I had never been overseas before going on this trip and I was incredibly nervous when I first stepped on the plane. I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know what it was going to be like to live with thirteen other people for almost three months. Looking back, I can say with certainty that the trip was a positive experience. I was overwhelmed at first—new currency, new food, a completely different language, and all the craziness that is Athens—and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Greece. But like always, you adjust. I figured out how to pack light, how to deal with moving every three days, and how to eat cheap (my one serious regret of the trip is that I didn’t figure out that Greek “toast” is actually grilled cheese until a week ago—I could have avoided at least twenty tiropita induced stomachaches). So after all of this is over, what do I like about Greece? I like the landscape: the mountains, the plains, the coast, and getting to see all of that as we made our way from one side of the country to the other. I like the small country towns, little collections of houses, surrounded by herds of animals and little farms. I like the people, who always want to know where you are from, and are generally very nice and welcoming. And I like frappes.
I was a little conflicted about traveling around Greece—I couldn’t help but feel like a super-tourist in a country that is already overrun with tourists. I found myself wondering how it would feel to have other nations claiming your heritage as their own. I don’t think, however, that Greece has lost what it is. Underneath all of the cheesy tourist shops and the overpriced restaurants, I feel like I got a real sense of what Greece is today, which in the end was just as valuable to me as learning about all of the history and archaeology.
I also learned about living and working with other people. I thought that summer camp and college roommates had given me some idea about what it is to live with other people. I was seriously wrong. Being confined in a small hotel room, every day, with basically the same people really teaches you about being patient and respectful. One of the most important things I learned on the trip was also not to let my first impressions of people shape my idea about how they really are. The great thing about spending three months with thirteen other people is that you really get to know one another, and I realized that how people come off in the beginning is not always how they really are.
Overall, I wouldn’t change anything about the trip, even the bad parts. I was so lucky to get to spend three months in Greece, especially because I was surrounded by some people whose company I really enjoyed, including a few who were already my good friends from before. I know I’ll always remember the trip, and I can’t wait to come back again.