Adjusting to Athens, Greece
Submitted by Allison Maiorano on the 2016 winter session program in Athens, Greece sponsored by the Department of Philosophy…
Only just now, two days after our arrival to Greece, has the realization begun to sink in that we are no longer in the country where I have spent the last twenty-two years of my life. I didn’t have any expectations for what my first journey outside of the United States would be like because I have never truly experienced a culture different from my own, and I am utterly delighted at what I have experienced thus far.
The first day here, I was quite tired, but that was to be expected after staying awake for a full twenty four hours (sleeping on the plane did not work out as planned, unfortunately). The second day we were here, I could feel myself lingering in an awkward space just outside of my comfort zone, but not quite knowing what to make of any of it. I was trying to figure out where I fit into this culture – how different is it? Will it be hard to function within this new society? How long would it take to adjust to my new surroundings? I found it difficult to absorb the information our tour guide taught us the first day we were here. Taking in my new and incredibly unique surroundings was using up all of the mental capacity I had, but soon enough, I started to memorize the general layout of our neighborhood and the major areas for eating and shopping. Soon enough, groups of us were able to go out on our own to get meals and coffee. I felt accomplished and excited to learn more about the language and become more self-sufficient within the community.
We had our first class the other day, and it opened my mind to questions that I had never asked myself before. I am generally aware my perspective has been cultivated by my nature and my environment, and therefore, I try to question my own thoughts and beliefs when I find that there is more to a situation than meets my eye. However, I suppose that there were types of questions that I never asked myself – questions that drove down to the core of the matter and opened pathways to ideas that I have never explored. I look forward to learning more about these kinds of questions and to modify my beliefs and my understanding of my social and political surroundings based on these nuances.
Today, we embarked on the first of many visits to historical sites, and I am still in awe. Not only was the Acropolis aesthetically stunning, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the notion that important, influential men and women once stood on the very ground where I planted my feet. Mythology has interested me since I was very young, and it does to this day. It clearly was a crucial part of life throughout Greek History, and seeing the Acropolis helped me understand its magnitude. Standing beside these monumental ancient ruins was surreal, and it felt as though I was more connected to this subject matter that has fascinated me for so long.
I can not wait to see the Acropolis Museum tomorrow and to learn more about this history that has affected the lives of so many people, and even more, to do so with a mindset that incorporates the lessons I learn in class.