Hospital Experience

Nothing gave me a greater experience of Greek culture than going to the hospital. My roommate James and I went to the beautiful Sounio to revisit the Temple of Poseidon and of course spend a day at the beach. Rather than tarry where all the other beachgoers lounged, we explored the rocky areas, found unrestored pieces of temple, swam in sea-urchin infested waters, and threw fragile sedimentary rocks against boulders to watch them explode. Then, he began to climb up a bunch of rocks and made it look so very easy. Naturally, I had to follow. I lost my footing and felt down straight six feet, and then helplessly tumbled and rolled down the rocks another six feet. I ended up with a severely sprained ankle–and praising God that it wasn’t much worse! Unaware of the intensity of my injury, James and I walked up to the temple, spent some time in the next town (after dressing my wounds), and then finally took a cab home. The adrenaline wore off and the pain set in.

Me acting like my ankle didn't hurt (with adrenaline aiding my delusion)

Me acting like my ankle didn’t hurt (with adrenaline aiding my delusion)

The next morning I told Nikos, our graduate student guide, about the injury. Immediately he dropped everything he was doing and insisted that I go to the hospital. He asked me about my pain level every 15 seconds of the 10 minute ride, all while reassuring me that it would be okay. Every time I told him that it was fine. When I got to the hospital, I saw people with fairly minor injuries wincing and rolling in expressions of dread and agony. I had an epiphany. Greeks are obsessed with health. Even their word for hello means good health, and toasts are always to continued good health. Therefore whenever anyone has anything but perfect health, they treat it as a major crisis. This was totally confirmed when, upon returning to the hospital a week later for a check-up, I saw a guy whose arm was propped up in a homemade pillow sling. He continually and urgently walked into the doctor’s room in order to receive priority healthcare, and he walked out with the sling over his shoulder and his arm looking just fine. He might have had a bad bruise. All I could do was chuckle. To good health!

Καλώς ήρθες

Athens is a city of extremes. Vital pieces of ancient Greek history—the centric site of the Acropolis, exhibits of ancient artifacts along metro platforms, or the hill of the Areopagus—exist boldly alongside Athens’ fast-paced modernity. The modern city is a sea of white apartment buildings with lush plants spilling off of balconies and small tavernas, whose patrons sprawl out across sidewalks and into the narrow streets, which are populated by impatient motorcyclists, colorful graffiti, and erudite Athenians, for whom the city constant state of flux has become routine.

The modern meets the ancient both daringly and seamlessly, prompting numerous interactions between the historical and the contemporary. The dialogue between Athens as the birthplace of democracy and Greece’s modern form of democracy exists in the sharp distinction between the ruins of the Parthenon and the image of the imposing Parliament House beside Syntagma Square. The dialogue between Athens’ past and present exists in the strange juxtaposition between the remnants of the Ancient Agora, the social trading center of ancient Athens and Varvakios Agora, an energetic, colorful market crowded with open fish and meat displays and bins stuffed with greens and vegetables. The dialogue exists between the preserved ruins of Athens’ 5th century BC fortifications around the Piraeus peninsula and the unseen distant borderlines where the refugee crisis festers and develops along chain link fences.

Athens has been my home for three weeks now. In these weeks, I have seen and touched and moved through Athens as a stranger, a student, and a visitor. Since it is a new city to me, I have encountered the modern and the ancient through the same eyes. The Athens that I have met and explored is incredibly multi-layered and complex—not to be defined by its immense historical value, but simultaneously not to be denied its budding global existence.

Sights and Tastes of Greece

Hello, Everyone! It’s officially been three weeks since I left the U.S. and arrived in Athens, Greece for my Global Seminar, and I’ve been enjoying every moment. We’ve had a lot of opportunity to explore the city (as well as a few other areas in Greece) and experience what Greece has to offer. Some things I’m quickly learning to appreciate are the magnificent sights to be seen in Greece. Whether it’s the early morning or late at night, in the middle of a busy city or on the coast, here are a few views from my time here thus far:



The view from the balcony of my apartment! We live alongside local Greek citizens while in Athens, so we’ve been fortunate to authentically experience our district in Athens as well as life in a foreign country. In fact, interacting with citizens in this district has been one of the best parts of living here, as people have helped in every thing from grocery shopping to commanding a dog to sit in Greek. I love eating out on the balcony at night and seeing the city begin to light up.



A photo of the Acropolis at night. Seeing the Acropolis was one of the first things we got to do while here (on day 2 we had a massive exploration of the city) and this view absolutely took my breath away. Not only could we see the Acropolis lit up from our position but also the entire city of Athens and the mountains surrounding it. Not a place to miss!


Above is a photo of the Corinth canal, which we needed to cross on the way to the city of Nafplio. Now, I’m a person who’s normally afraid of heights, but standing atop this canal was too breath-taking of an opportunity to miss. It was incredible to hear about the history of this canal (apparently, the canal saw some World War II action that you can find photos of online).




Still, although the Corinth canal was a beautiful stop, the destination was even more magnificent. Captured above is a photo of the Aegean Sea in Nafplio, and I think the photo and clear blue water speaks for itself. Directly underneath it is another view with a few other students and me on our way to the beach.

Now, we are going to move onto tastes, which of course means FOOD! Greek food is absolutely delicious, and every meal I’ve ordered here has left me completely satisfied (and not-so-secretly wanting to come back for more). Here are a few of my favorite dishes and some memories to go along with them:




Communal dinners have been some of my favorite meals to have in Greece. Everyone in the Global Seminar gathers to eat some fabulous food and talk together. Fun facts about meals in Greece: locals here eat dinner a lot later in the day, around 9:30 to 10 p.m., so it was a bit of an adjustment at first. Above are photos of the delicious seafood linguini and mussels I had at our first communal dinner.


Trying traditional Greek dishes has been really interesting, and souvlaki has become a quick favorite. On our first day of exploration I also tried my first plate of souvlaki, and whether in a restaurant or from a street stand it tastes delicious. While here, I’ve also sampled tzatziki (if you don’t know what it is, look it up because it is fantastic) as well as domaldes, stuffed grape leaves. If you ever come to Greece, look forward to the food!


While at Nafplio, we got to visit what is supposedly the absolute BEST gelato in all of Greece, and let me say that I think it’s a title well-deserved. This banana gelato was delicious and refreshing on a 90-degree day.



Despite my goal to experience as many Greek dishes as possible, I was happy to find a vegetarian restaurant named ‘Avocado’ while in Athens. The food was superb (I love avocados!) and it was comforting to know that Greece has a little something for everyone. In fact, across the street was a sushi restaurant and noodle bar, which I may be tempted to try in the future.

Well, that’s all for now! Hopefully, I’ll be posting back soon with some more detail on the experiences we’ve had outside of Athens, but in the meantime check out the PIIRS Instagram page to see a few more photos of our Global Seminar! Thank you, of course, to PIIRS for allowing me to be a part of this amazing trip.