Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ashley's Post

A whole year of planning an experience of a lifetime you would think would seem to take forever, right? Well not in this case. My departure for my spring semester to Athens, Greece snuck up on me and is finally here. You think to yourself as you are packing, how do you fit three months worth of clothes into a single suitcase and one carry on? Don’t ask me how I did it, but somehow I downsized my belongings to make it work. It was very tricky to pick out what I wanted to bring because I’m a girl. What girl doesn’t like clothes, shoes, belts, jewelry, beauty products, etc.? And trust me, us girls have a lot of each of those. It took me a good 30 minutes to zipper my suitcase and somehow it wasn’t over the weight limit.  As my departure day came, it was very hard saying goodbye to my family and my closest companion. Soon after saying my goodbyes I was finally boarding the plane with the 8 other individuals that are joining me on this experience. I have never been on a 7 hour flight before in my life. Turns out my first 7 hour flight ever was not that bad. I got a whole row to myself and my own personal television. I got to eat food that they provided for us, which didn’t look to appetizing, but surprisingly it was pretty tasty, and I also watched three movies!  As the pilot announced that we were about to land into our layover in Switzerland, I looked out my window and saw one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. As we were right above the clouds, at the same level as us, were the mountain peaks of the Swiss Alps. It was like nothing I have ever seen before. Even though having a layover in Switzerland was technically a little bit out of the way, it was well worth it with the views of the Swiss Alps I got to experience. As we waited in the airport for our flight from Switzerland to Greece, I got the chance to “people watch,” as I would call it. As I was people watching, it seemed like everyone there was almost in a way the same. They all seemed like snowboarders, but what less would you expect? We were in the country where the mountains take up 65 percent of the country which makes it one of the most alpine countries! We then boarded our connecting flight , which was a lot smaller. This plane ride was only about 2 and half hours, and to tell you the truth I slept the whole time. I woke up as we were landing and the view of Greece from up above was absolutely stunning. Clear blue waters with lots of mostly white buildings surrounding it. Here is a picture of the view of our layover in Switzerland, and the view of Athens from up above.

As we got off the plane, we got all of our luggage, and surprisingly nobody’s luggage got lost!  As we were walking out of baggage claim our drivers were there waiting for us. We walked out of the airport after they greeted us very kindly, and the fresh air was so nice and refreshing. It was warm but crisp at the same time. We then packed up the cars and took off to head to our apartments. I can tell you one thing, driving here is A LOT different than in America. Here people swerve in and out of lanes without practically looking. The motorcyclists and the people riding on the mopeds deviate through the cars and sidewalks like crazy people!  Also, In Athens there is no such thing as parking spots. The Greeks park literally anywhere there car will fit. After a long day of travels we finally arrived at our apartments. All of us girls ended up all being in the same apartment on the third floor and all of the boys ended up on the 4th floor. Let’s just say that bringing my 50 pound suitcase up those stairs was one of the best workouts I’ve ever had! After we were all settled in, Professor Roth took us on a walk around our neighborhood to give us a feel of where things such as supermarkets. Since it was late on a Sunday, pretty much everything was closed up and gated. If you like graffiti and stray puppies like me, Greece is your kind of place!  There is graffiti almost everywhere you look. The government used to have people come around every week or so to paint over the graffiti, but since the economy isn’t doing so well they had to cut people out of their jobs of doing that. I personally like all the graffiti because I look at it as expressive art. As for the stray dogs, they are very cute and very nice. Everyone in Athens accepts these dogs and will feed them.  They even have their own collars!  After walking around, we all had dinner at our apartment. We had pizza from a local pizza place down the street. Their pizza was good but definitely different than American pizza. After dinner we decided to explore the night life a little bit. We asked some of the locals around where some of the good bars that everyone enjoys were. At one bar we told them that we were American and that it was our first night in Athens. The bar tender thought it was great and yelled “AMERICANS! Free drinks on the house! And at another bar, Hayley Kelley asked for our check and the bartender couldn’t understand her English that well so he came back with a glass of Jack on the rocks instead! Looks like we will need to learn how to ask for the check in Greek! Overall our first day and night in Greece was already Amazing. I’m looking forward to traveling and experimenting different cultures.
                                                                                                                        Until next time, Ashley.

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