Well, it’s been a long and busy two weeks here in Greece! After an entire week in The Peloponnese my program and I came back to Athens for about 4 days of classes and then were soon off again to a place called Delphi in northern Greece. Throughout this time I have visited countless museums and archeological sites. My knowledge of Greek history and mythology is much deeper than when I first arrived in Athens. While I am not a classics or history major, I would be able to tell you almost everything about the renowned Byzantine Empire, for instance, from its beginning to its end.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that I was fascinated by the Peloponnese. I specifically enjoyed our visit to the town of Naplio in the Peloponnese. Naplio’s Italian and Greek influences truly make it a unique place. At times I felt as if I were in Italy rather than Greece! There were gelaterias at almost every corner and restaurants and stores with Italian names. After learning more about the town by visiting museums and listening to professors lecture, I became knowledgeable to the Venetian influence of Naplio. The Venetians of Italy attempted to conquer this part of Greece long ago, thus explaining why everything was in Italian. Additionally, as an Italian myself I would say I felt as if I were home. In fact, I remember our first night in Naplio I spotted a gelateria right around the corner from our hotel. I decided to check out the gelateria and buy myself something sweet. As soon as I entered the store, the employee immediately said “Ciao Bella!” “Ciao?” I thought to myself. “He speaks Italian?” I was surprised. I then responded in Italian and asked the employee how he knew the language if we are in Greece. He further explained to me the Italian-Greco history and noted that in this particular part of Greece there are a significant number of Italian people. I really enjoyed talking to this employee and practicing my Italian. I missed speaking a language I was comfortable with as Greek is still a language I am getting used to.
Another part of the Peloponnese that was very interesting was our quick visit to Olympia, where the Olympic games started! This was incredible. The site was full of great history and very well preserved. I can now say I have stepped foot onto the birthplace of the first Olympic games.
More recently however, since coming back from our last trip to Delphi, the major of us American students along with the local Greeks, have been keeping up with the US elections. My study abroad facilities actually stayed open all night the day of the elections where we all anxiously watched and waited for the election results. Yet, by the end of the elections there were many mixed reactions by both students and professors. It has been quite hard for all of us American as we try to process such new and unexpected information while being abroad.
On a lighter note, today President Barack Obama will be visiting Athens! Many of the students plan to go see him speak about the US relations with Greece. While many people are expected to attend this event, we all hope to at least have a glance and listen to at least part of Obama’s last speech as president of the Unite States.