Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adventures of a Greek Concert

So the past few days have been crazy as always, overloaded with school work and fun. The most exciting adventures have been centered around a concert that took place tonight at the Old Olympic Stadium, and even after everything that went into one night of fun, I was not disappointed. 

Our adventure began on Monday afternoon when Caitlin found out that the concert was taking place that night, so we decided to brave a new part of town to get tickets. Map in hand and having really no idea what we were getting into a few of us headed out on the town. We took a new route on the Metro in order to reach our destination, but while trying and trying to get the little machines to take our Metro passes, but failing miserably we were soon stopped by a nice man that told us that it was the one day out of the year that all public transportation in Athens was free, who knew!? Anyways, we ended up at the right station eventually, and began reading endless street signs and numbers. We were on a time crunch since we only had about twenty more minutes until the office closed so we started getting a little frantic. We had the name of the ticket office written down so I started going from person to person, once again beginning every conversation with "English? Yes?" and FINALLY took a correct turn and ended up at the office. Coincidentally of course, it happened to be about 50 feet away from the metro station exit that we had come from, typical. We ran into the office just as she was about to close up for the day, but luckily she took pity on us ridiculous Americans and took the time to sell us tickets. Tickets in hand, and exhausted we went back home to rest up for the big concert. 
Tori and I stoked that our outing was a success

Tickets! Hooray for going green and contributing to saving the environment! 

The Metro is our friend, especially on free public transportation day! 

While waiting, a HUGE rain storm moved in with thunder, lightning, the whole deal. We weren't sure how outdoor concerts would work here so we decided we would make the trip down to the stadium, just to see if it was canceled. On the way, the rain only got worse, it was INSANITY...and coming from a girl, born and raised in the constant rain of Bellingham, I'd say my opinion counts. This wasn't just rain, it was out of control, and the lightning was so close it was shaking the buildings and setting off car alarms all down the street. Needless to say, the concert was rescheduled for the next night so we headed home in the downpour. Rivers were flooding the streets and we were soaked to the bone by the time we finally made it back, but it was a hilarious adventure.

Jessi and I in the downpour!

The ladies on our trek back to the apartments in the rain

Beautiful friends being rained on.

We were so tired, cold, and wet but we had fun!

Tonight we finally were able to go the the concert. The entire Olympic Stadium overflowing of people was an incredible sight. We found seats pretty high up, and the view was incredible. Almost all the monuments in the area are lit up at night and you could see so much from the top of the stadium. Not to mention the amazing performances we saw. I wish I could have known at least a little bit about the music or who was performing, but it really didn't matter. The crowd was really responsive to all the performers so I could tell we were apart of something really exciting. The night consisted of a series of singers that came on for only a few songs at a time so we were able to experience a wide variety of music. Something I really appreciated about the concert was that it wasn't overly flashy, and not one performer was showing off. It was all about the quality of the music, not necessarily about an over the top presentation, as it sometimes is at home. Overall, I was more than pleased with such a great concert. And when we were getting ready to leave we went down to walk around on the track and see everything on the ground level as well. Such a good experience! 

Look at the crowd, just trying to get into the stadium

We battled security, fought the crowd and made it inside!

The Stage and crowd inside the Stadium

Once the concert began the lights were fantastic

Tori and I laying on the Olympic track...no big deal. 

The last guy we saw perform was such a rocker

Going for the Gold, I totally won. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Love Nest

I'm happy to say that everyone in our program is getting along so well already. I know it's only been a little over a week but I feel like we have a really great group, and I'm sure there are so many great things ahead of us. I'm really happy with the variety of people in our group, each person contributes a different personality to the group. I was so scared to leave the comfort of my amazing friends at home, but so far I have not been disappointed, everyone is down to have a good time no matter what we are doing! 

Some of the ladies getting ready to hit the town!

Almost all the AHA girls in my apartment

The Love Nest....So last night we decided to have a giant sleep over in our huge living room. We put together 7 mattresses and this was the result. SO fun! 

This is Tori and I attempting to use the chopsticks properly 

Jessi used her can of "BIG SEXY HAIR" hair spray on all us girls for our night out

Wandering around by the Old Olympic Stadium at night, no big deal. 

Dancing it up in the club with Carly!

I am missing everyone back home a lot already and I'm sure I will have times that are more difficult than others, but so far so good with new friends! 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Market, Gyros, and Family Dinner

Just a quick update on the past couple days. We have done so much, it is hard to keep everything straight. Yesterday was Friday, no classes whoohoo! So we hit up the Farmer's Market down the street from our apartments, best idea ever! Yanna, our Greek professor was telling us in class that the market was the best place to get fresh produce and pretty much anything else they sell there, and she was so right. I figured that since its so fresh and delicious that it would be way more expensive than most of the stuff found at the super market, but I was so wrong. We bought potatoes, garlic, apples, bananas, grapes, eggs, lemons, and more for really cheap! I love the atmosphere down there as well. Everyone is yelling, trying to get you to buy their food instead of the stand next to them, when it is all relatively the same. It's so different from any other Farmer's Market I've been to. At home, usually I'm the only person yelling at the market and everyone thinks I'm crazy! You can smell the fresh olives from a block away, I wish I could send everyone back home the smells and sights of this place. It is such a big part of their culture you can tell by the way the little Greek women are buying everything in bulk to last all week, and it is nothing out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, all of us foreign college kids stand in the midst of everything, dumbstruck by how great this all is. 

We were so proud of all that we discovered!

An endless amount of Greek olives.

We have discovered the greatness of Gyros on the go. I think I have had about ten since I've been here and that is a small number compared to many other people. Down on the corner of the square where we spend a lot of time is this amazing Gyro place, and SO cheap. We go there almost everyday, and hopefully soon we will learn to read the menu so we can order something else! 

Chicken and Pork Gyro meat grilling away! 

I believe Derek has the record for most Gyro's consumed so far. 

Last night we cooked our first big meal at home. The boys downstairs, Caitlin, Tori, Kristina and I combined forces to have a fabulous dinner. We had so much fun making it, with our amazing fresh food from the market, we felt so domestic! Once everything was done we crowded around our little dinning room table, and some one made the comment that we were "so Greek" in that moment. We had gone to the market to find food, made it at home, were eating at 9 at night, drinking only with dinner, and having intelligent conversations about classes. Sounds way cheesy and it was but I'm glad we are all adjusting so well already. After dinner everyone from the other building joined us for some fun before a bunch of them went out. I didn't join because I was so exhausted from a long first week. I have an overwhelming amount of homework to get done in the next couple days, so I have to get on it! More updates to come soon! 

Tori, Caitlin, and I in the apartment waiting for dinner to finish cooking

We prepared our first home-cooked meal!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First week of classes!

Today was day four of classes, and the end of our first full week. Thank god for no classes on Friday! I am realizing quickly that this quarter is going to be extremely work intensive because of all the classes I am taking, I might be in way over my head. At the same time, I am completely stoked for each class.

Monuments of Greece, taught by the amazing Michael, who sort of looks like he should be in a museum, but is a hardcore archeologist genius, is going to be fantastic. Tuesday, we went up to the Acropolis and the Theatre of Dionysos to see the Parthanon and other buildings like the Temple of Athena, Caryatids, and so on. It was scorching hot and Michael threw so much information at us I could hardly keep up but it was so beautiful and breath taking to see so much history being preserved right in the in the center of a high traffic, busy city like Athens. From the highest lookout point you could see to the edge of the city and further. I can't even describe how incredible that sight was, I'm still in shock that that actually happened. The next excursion for that class is next week when we are heading to Crete for a long five-day weekend, and I can't wait to see what is waiting for us there!

SO Excited to be at the Acropolis

Almost all of us AHA kids at the Acropolis

As for our Greek Language course, oh man! That class is going to be really rough for me I can tell already. Our Professor, Yanna, is so spunky and sort of all over the place, but I'm sure once we get the basics down it will get easier. I am trying to quiz myself constantly as we walk through the Plaka and when we go out, just to learn the alphabet is a challenge! Today we learned some basic sayings like “how are you?” and “I want” just so we feel less like idiots while we wander the streets and go to stores or restaurants.

I am also taking Modern Greek History and the Balkans, which I can already tell will be the most difficult for me, even as much as I love history. I am excited because this is the first upper level non-US history course I have taken in college so far so we will see how it goes. Despite the fact that it is a three-hour class first thing in the morning Ekavi, our professor, keeps a good pace with her lectures so it’s easy to keep up. Plus, how amazing is it to be learning about Greek history in GREECE….pretty much rocks my world.

Eleni is the name of the Professor of the Cross-Cultural Communication course that we are all required to take. I’m not sure what all we are going to be talking about in this class yet since we have only had one day of introduction, but I hope it helps with the adjustment into such a different culture. Hopefully soon we won’t be constantly blocking the crazy traffic and waving with palms out, offending half the city, and soon I hope to be able to order something else to eat besides a Gyro. I’m just hoping she will teach us how to not continuously stand out as ridiculous Americans, and that in three months we might almost pass for locals? Well, maybe not that far, but we will see. 

The class I am most excited about so far is Alena’s Greek Persuasion class. She is the most enthusiastic professor I have ever had, and she makes everything seem exciting. For the class, we are going to be learning about the different methods of Persuasion, linking them back to the persuasive origins in Greek History. The major project for the class is to write a paper using the techniques we learn in class about an issue that currently exists in Greece today. She gave us some interesting topics to choose from and I think Tori and I are going to team up and write about the overwhelming amount of stray cats and dogs in Athens, and propose a solution of some sort. My favorite part about the classes is the small setting of all of them. I don’t think I have ever taken such small classes before, and it’s rare for a Professor to know me be name as well as everyone else in the class which is something I really appreciate. Especially in Alena’s class we have a really great group for discussion I can tell already. Overall, I am stressed by the amount of work I have after only one week, but it is a lot of credits and the time actually spent in the class is limited, which is nice.

Not to mention all the fun I’ve been having outside of class of course! I am finally getting the hang of the neighborhood, considering I haven’t gotten lost in a couple days. Last night a bunch of the girls hit the town and it was so much fun. We went to a beautiful restaurant that is all white with subtle blue on the tables and chairs, (very Greek) for drinks and appetizers and then hit the club. The people of on this trip have been a riot already, and I think we are planning a trip to Mykonos the weekend after Crete. So much to see and do! Tomorrow we are hitting up the street market for some fresh produce, (Caitlin and I are on a mission for potatoes) and then we are heading to the beach, which I haven’t been to yet, but apparently it is a good time!

That’s just classes, so I’ll try and update more again soon. More pictures to come too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


We went to the Acropolis today and it was incredible! 

I am loving this place! 

Picture break on the way up to the Acropolis with some of the girls

Amazing Theatre, recently renovated and still used for shows today

All the Roommates in front of the Parthanon

Katie and I messing around while we should probably be listening to Michael's lecture

Alena and Michael in the midst of  all of us eager students 


Kristina and I enjoying the view

Jessi, Jenee and I from the highest point at the Acropolis

Amazing view from the look out point

These two girls crack me up

Girls grabbing some grub after a long hot afternoon


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mumble Jumble of the first few days of Athens

Me: We either DIE or GO HOME!
Caitlin: What is this, Sparta? Oh wait....

Okay, so I've been a little slow for the updates considering how much has happened in just three short days, but I'm sure I'll get into the groove of everything soon enough. Classes start tomorrow and I'm really stoked. I'm taking Monuments of Greece, Beginning Greek Language, and a Cross Cultural class, all of the required courses, plus History of the Balkans and Greek Methods of Persuasion. It's a lot, and I'm not sure if I am going to stick with Persuasion, I was just really hoping to take a class from our traveling prof, Alena because I have heard nothing but amazing things about her so I will have to see how it goes. 

The last few days have been insane. Starting with just the first night, Kristina, my roommate, Michele, Katie and I hit the town as soon as we were settled. We found this amazing place that was a rooftop bar where you could see forever, including an amazing view of the Acropolis. In the words of Kristina, "This is like Disneyland...only REAL!" Vasilies was the name of the bar and he loved us crazy American girls that were completely awestruck by the city. He won us over with his dance moves and free drinks, and I'm sure he will see much of us for the next three months. 

The following day we were taken all around the surrounding area of our apartments and the Athens Centre, where our classes will be held, to get a feel for what is around us. We also had a great dinner provided by the Athens Centre, at a Taverna not too far from our apartments.It was amazing food and so much fun to finally sit down and chat with all the people in our program. 

Later that night we wanted another round of fun, so Caitlin, Tori, and the boys from downstairs and I went of the craziest adventure yet. We still had no idea where anything was still but we were determined to push the limits and that's exactly what we did. Wandering around with no clue we started asking strangers on the street where we could find a fun place go, and two guys took us in and basically let us follow them around half the city. They were headed to a Tiki Bar which sounded perfect, but after about an hour we found it only to discover that the owners have closed it for the holidays. Which holidays...who knows so we ended up in Plaka, a very crowded and lively part of the city, especially at night because its full of clubs and restaurants. This is where our tour guides left us, after telling us how to get home on the Metro first. Since they informed us that the last Metro runs at 2am, we decided we still had enough time for a little Plaka fun! We found Club Spirit, got some drinks and started to dance the night away. The club was pretty much empty expect us, the crazy six Americans, and two older women from Russia that were dancing it up with us. Caitlin and I had to drag the boys away from the bar so we didn't miss the last Metro. We were panicked so we ran through the station until a security man yelled at us in Greek, then in English, oops! 

Once we got off and out of the station we were waaaay lost! Matt thought he had figured out where we were and started running up and down the street shouting that he knew where we were while Caitlin and I tried to read a map. Not much time passed before Matt came back like a wounded puppy and told us he had no idea where we were. The quest home was full of constant conversations that began with "English? Yes?" and confused faces as the kind people on the street tried to guide us home. We even met a brother and sister from US and Canada. Sam, the brother was so excited he gave me a hug when he found out I was from Bellingham, since he had spent the past four years in Vancouver BC. 

We stopped to ask a gang of Taxi drivers how to get home and once they pointed us in the right direction I went in for the high five. I should point out the a palm outward gesture is a big no-no in Greece, so I panicked and apologized a lot realizing what I had just done. He just laughed at me and said high-fives were a perfectly fine gesture and then pounded my fist, and said "like the Americans!" 

As we continued to walk the neighborhood finally became familiar and we found our way back to the apartments. Only took us about two hours to get home, a simple adventure turned into an amazing night of chaos. 

After only about 5 hours of sleep we had another tour yesterday. This was hilarious since the tour took us pretty much all the way through the places that we had been the night before, only this time we had a guide and didn't get completely lost. I was proud of our fearless attitude though, everyday I get more and more confident about the area and I know it will only get easier. 

Once we told everyone else about the crazy adventures the six of us had, they all wanted to make the trip to Plaka for a good time. So after the tour, some delicious Gyros by the market, and my first grocery store adventure, we rounded everyone up and headed out as a huge crowd. I was so excited to see almost our entire class together, everyone is getting along well so far. This time we actually knew where we were headed so it took a lot less time, and it was a crazy night. Everyone was dancing and making friends. We met a guy named Harry from Whales that had the perfect accent, we couldn't understand his name at first so he just said, "'Arrry, like 'Arry Potter!" Exhausted from the night before, a few of us headed out early since it's a long trek home. These three stay dogs walked us back the entire way. It's overwhelming how many stray cats and dogs there are all the time. It's really sad, and I know we aren't supposed to pet them or give them any attention because sometimes they are feisty but we have taken up a habit of naming all of them as we go. Edgar, Pedro and Paul walked us home last night, they were like little guardians for us. I've been trying not to become too attached to them but it's hard. 

Today was a much more low key day since nothing was scheduled for us to do. We had a gathering at Alena's apartment though which was sort of a meet n' greet once again, giving us more opportunity to talk to everyone in our program. Name games were played and we all had to bring representations of ourselves which was a good idea. 

This is such a long post but that just shows that the past few days have been jam packed full of so much! 

**Can't figure our the format on this picture thing to save my life...so they are all out of order but I will figure it out and put more up sooooon!