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onceinalifetimeadventuress

Just your typical small town girl, who likes to get lost & found (by herself) in new places

Victoria Square

Hello everyone! For this entry I decided to make a video post rather than a written one. The video should show up right below!

Thanks so much for your constant support of my blog!

καλεηγχτα (goodnight)!

Athens Salvation Army- https://www.facebook.com/The-Salvation-Army-in-Athens-Greece-1443541422526748/timeline
Boat Refugee Foundation- http://bootvluchteling.nl/en/

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Roman Holiday

Now, I don’t pretend to think I’m as chic or poised as Audrey Hepburn, and my Roman Holiday was no where close to as fabulous as hers, but to me, it was life changing.

It seems that the more places I go in Europe, the more I love this continent and it’s diversity. As soon as I went to Crete I fell instantly in love- with the people, the city (Xania) and it’s vibe. I didn’t think it was possible to love a place more than I loved Xania, but then I went to Rome.

I read a quote that said, “For someone who has never seen Rome, it is impossible to believe how beautiful life can be.” Rome, despite it’s ancient monuments, is such a modern city. And even though, there are floods of tourists all year round, it is quite beautiful.

The first full day there was spent touring the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum, and the Sistine Chapel. Anyone who really knows me, knows how much I love art. And any person taking an art history or appreciation class ultimately gets Renaissance art drilled into them. This leads to a dis- appreciation of Renaissance art. Despite this, Renaissance art is my absolute favorite. When I tell people this, often enough they look at me with a scrunched nose and ask, “why?” Maybe it’s because Renaissance art was the first thing about art that I learned about, but what I do know is that it was the period that made me fall in love with the idea of art. So being able to tour places that are famous for their art, was life changing. Another thing a lot of people know about me is that I rarely cry. That said, as soon as I walked into the Vatican, looked up at the vaulted ceilings with ornate artwork, I cried. I cried walking in the tombs of the famous saints. I cried when I walked into the rooms that Raphael had painted. I cried when I saw a room full of Matisse artwork, and when I saw a Salvador Dali painting. Lastly, I cried, full tears, when I went into the Sistine Chapel. No amount of education can teach you how moving a piece of art can be. I was so moved and insanely happy that I cried off an on for over 3 hours. I was not prepared for how much I would be moved by the art, and I wasn’t prepared for how much the experience would make me question my lack of [religious] faith.

Vatican1 Vatican2 vatican3 vatican7
vatican9

The next day, my friends and I spent the day walking around Rome and going to all the famous places: The Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and any interesting spots in between. Unfortunately, this was the year when the Spanish steps and Trevi fountain were closed due to restoration. (I desperately wanted my cliche moment of throwing a coin into the fountain). The more I walked around the city, the more I fell in love with its old world charm.

view lala trevi day2

On our third day In Rome, we toured the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, which were all once the center of Athens. This day only solidified my love for old buildings and structures. Some fun facts about the Colosseum:

  1. Tigers were the rarest, and most expensive animal to have in the ring.
  2. The fights were almost always fixed, and people didn’t die that often is, because the slaves who were fighting had a price, and you don’t want your investment to die.
  3. Women also participated in the fights- against “midgets” (Please excuse my political incorrectness. I typically use the term “little people” but the woman who gave our tour used that word)
  4. The fights were an all day affair, where people rarely ate, but drank a lot, so there were designated throwing up areas (Yuck!)

colosseum chic colosseum.jpg1 lalala view-ph  My final day in Rome, I spent by myself. I had gotten a good grasp of the city by then, so I was able to walk around and not get lost. That day was spent doing different things. I started off my day by writing post cards in front of the Vatican. Then, I went to the Tevere river and sat on a wall reading the New York Times, doing the crossword and word scramble, and listening to a street performer who played the violin beautifully. Before leaving for the airport I walked up and down the river, got a some wild berry gelato, and soaked in my last few moments in Rome.

tevere1tevere2 tevere3

It was very bittersweet leaving Rome. As much as I love Athens, the two cities are just so different. Rome moved at a much slower pace; it reminded me a lot of Portland. I’ve found that any city that slightly reminds me of Portland or gives me the same at home feeling, I instantly fall in love with. So far, only two cities qualify; Rome and Xania. I’m very excited to find other places I love just as much.

me3 me2 me breakfast

Crete, etc.

Please forgive me for my lack of posts so far. I’ve been here around 20 days so far, although it seems like much longer. To say that it was a culture shock moving here is an understatement. I want to blame my lack of posts on my schedule (which has been busy), but doing so would dishonest. If I’m being honest, I haven’t been posting because it’s hard for me to put into words how my life is here. I could list off all the things we’ve done so far in the program, what I’ve seen, etc. I could attempt to explain how I’ve been impacted by these things, but I’m afraid my words wouldn’t do justice.

I’ve spent that past 20 days trying to absorb everything; every sound, sight, experience, that I’ve encountered. I’ve been trying to live in the moment as much as I can, because soon, this experience will not be my present, but my past.

That being said, I want to talk about Crete; Xania in particular. Yesterday we got back from a 6 day trip to Crete. We began in Heraklion and ended in Xania (Pronounced Chania). We saw the Palace of Knossos, the Law of Gortyn, several museums, and other ancient ruins in between.

And while I will forever remember how beautiful those ruins and artifacts were, what I really loved about Crete is the experiences I had there.

In Heraklion, we had the opportunity to go to a concert that was a fundraiser for refugees. Even though we didn’t stay that long (we were exhausted from walking around in the sun for like 5+ hours). There were so many different kinds of people there all for the same reason, and it’s a cause I’m extremely passionate about. Being there, I felt a sense of unification. I didn’t know any of these people and I’m from a country over 6,000 miles away, yet we were all there for the same reason.

And now we get to Xania. I have never been to a place besides Portland that had moved me as much as Xania did. Even though we were only there for 2 days, I will forever remember it. Xania has this rhythm and buzz about it that is so rare and so beautiful. I remember sitting on a bench in the port, looking at the old stone wall leading to the lighthouse and feeling at home. It has the natural beauty of Venice, but is somehow even better. Our first night there we went to get a quick dinner and one of the guys working at the restaurant invited us to his friends concert later that night. A few of us took up the offer (When in Xania, right?) It was an “underground” hip-hop concert and was probably the most fun I’ve had in a while. It was so interesting to me to go to a concert where I had no idea what they were saying, (we managed to pick out 3 words we knew) and to see how passionate the people there were about what he was rapping about. The guy who invited us was so incredibly nice and he even translated to us what the songs were about. Xania had this old-world feeling about it, but had that modern, Portland vibe as well. 

Although Portland will always be where I feel that I belong, I definitely left a part of my heart in Xania.

xania xania3 xaniadoggie

Greece in Crisis?

I mentioned in my previous post how I thought the Athens that I’ve been exposed to did not reflect the Athens that has been portrayed in the media. And while I still have a lot to learn about Athens and it’s current crisis, I thought I’d share more about what I know and have seen so far.

I feel really lucky that the other girls in the program are just as curious as I am about the current state of Greece from a Grecian perspective. Every chance we get, we ask locals their thoughts on what is going on. In America we only get certain information; whether that be information based on “leftist” or “right” views. In my Humanities 352 class at Concordia we learned about a view that is blind to most Americans, one that is in full force, especially in times of war- centrist media. To put it simply , centrist media is not left or right, but an almost overlapping of the two. It glorifies warfare and makes the average american numb to the consequences of war and violence. What I mean by glorify is not that they say it’s great and okay, but rather the media removes us so much from what is going on and feeds us the information it wants (whether it be left or right, etc). An example of this would be after 9/11 when media talked solely on the war and had segments on the weapons we were using to combat terrorism (drones, etc). What I’m trying to get at, is we Americans are never really given the full story of anything. I’ve noticed that since I began college, and I especially see it now as I talk to people about the refugee crisis. The information I’ve read about the crisis has mostly said how people are leaving Syria. They say a little about why (to escape war) but often the information left out, and maybe the most important part, is why they are in war in the first place.

Everyone that we’ve spoken to don’t have any strong views on the crisis. They have an, “it is what it is” feeling about it. The people we’ve talked with so far, haven’t really been impacted by the flood of refugees. Last night we took a taxi out and over the course of the 25 minute taxi ride, my friend asked what he thought about the refugees, “I don’t have [a] problem with them…They need some place to go. They can’t stay there.” After seeing our nods of agreement, he continued, saying, “they flood here to get to Europe to get money. All America does is give Europe money for them. America should take some in so we don’t have so many.”

I’ll leave the conversation at that. Of course there was more said; A lot more. But I don’t want this post to be about my opinion on the Syrian refugee crisis.

The whole reason I came to Athens was to help. I wanted to help the homeless, the refugees, and the people who lost their jobs after the crash. I’m still in the process of putting that in the works, but I hope to have started volunteering by the last week of September. If you read this post, I hope that you read about the refugee crisis in detail, and try reading about it from a new source. Become educated on why they are fleeing Syria in mass numbers, and rather than attributing it all to ISIS, try and understand why they had the war in the first place and consider the US’ part in it all. I also hope that once you understand what is going on, that you find a way to help.

refugees

I saw this written on the first day that I arrived. I’ve thought about it every day since.

Impressions

I arrived in Athens yesterday, not knowing what to expect. When I walked out of the airport and into the taxi terminal, I was hoping to have good luck and get a really nice driver. Luck was on my side because he was such a sweet guy! The airport is 36 km outside of Athens so we had time to talk. He told me his name, but I was so out of it yesterday, that I’ve forgotten it. Anyway, we talked about my plans in Greece and he told me a little about himself and how he had lived in Athens 17 years and is originally from Albania. When we finally found my apartment, he gave me his phone number and said to call him if I needed a tour guide or wanted to get coffee. One thing I’ve noticed about Europeans in general, is they are so friendly! Almost everyone I’ve encountered has been really helpful and kind. Which is most appreciated since I was a mess trying to get here.

Today, the other four girls and I went shopping downtown in the Plaka district (I think that’s what it’s called). I’m so amazed whenever I walk around because it’s like you see something old or historical ever time you turn the corner. Just while we were walking we saw the Acropolis and Zeus’ Temple. I’m really excited to be up close and learn about them more!

I don’t know why, and maybe it’s just because I’ve never been out of the country before, but I was thinking Athens would be like Portland, only older and have old monuments. But it’s nothing like Portland. For one, the drivers here are crazy! There aren’t really traffic laws, so no one stops for pedestrians. It’s also not as green as at home. The only trees I’ve seen are the cemetery or in the small park we walked through today. People don’t really pick up after their dogs either, which is so strange to me.

One thing that really surprised me, is that so far I haven’t seen the Greece that has been in the news. I haven’t seen any protests, and I’ve seen less homeless people around than I do in Portland. I’m not sure of that’s just because of the neighborhoods I’ve been in, but based on the articles I’ve read and the economic crash, I was expecting something different.

I start classes on Monday and have a few field trips right off the bat, so expect more pictures and posts!

The view of the Acropolis from the Athens Centre where I'm taking classes.
The view of the Acropolis from the Athens Centre where I’m taking classes.

To make a hostel sheet, or to not make a hostel sheet?

Hostel sheets, either you make ’em, or buy ’em.

What is a hostel sheet? Also known as a “sleep- sheet,” is a sheet sewn together like a sleeping bag/sleeping bag liner.Many hostels require you to bring your own or you can pay a fee to rent sheets at the hostel.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m a poor college student who can’t even buy herself a new pair of $40 shoes, so I’m not about to spend money on things that I can make (or recruit someone to help me make), myself. There’s a debate on silk vs. cotton hostel sheets, since silk is not only lighter than cotton sheets, but also more compact. I chose the cotton route (nothing a ziplock space bag can’t fix!)

I recruited my best friend’s mom (who is like a second mom to me) to help me with this project. Here is the link to the instructions we used. This was just used as basis though; we improvised a bit. Link below:

http://beersandbeans.com/2011/07/27/this-is-your-mommas-sleep-sheet/#comment-7629

Here is the finished project! I even posed with Tigger the corgi in homage to the man in the instructions.

sh

Choosing a backpack

For the longest time I went back and forth on what to bring, how much to bring, and how many suitcases I would need. Normally I’m the Queen of over packing. I like to bring more options than I could ever need; I mean, when I pack for school each year I bring my entire wardrobe and only wear a third of it! I didn’t want to do that in Europe too. I had to be realistic, I was going to be there for 4 months, and travel another month after that. I didn’t really want to be carting around multiple pieces of heavy luggage. So, I made the decision to only take one piece of luggage: a carry on backpack.

Now, when I say I know absolutely nothing about travel or suitcases or packing, I mean it. Everything I know I’ve learned from articles off of pinterest. Here is what I did know that I needed in a backpack:

  1. It had to be comfortable. I was going to be carrying it around for a month while I travel so it needed to have cushy shoulder pads.
  2. It needed to be big enough for all my stuff! 4 months worth of clothes and items is a lot
  3. Not only did it need to be big, but it needed to be small enough to work as a carry on, and be less than 50 lbs (which is the carry on limit).

I went to REI to find it, and even though I didn’t know anything about backpacks, I was determined to pick one out without assistance. REI is heaven for backpackers, for sure. They had everything. After looking around a bit, I spotted one that I liked.

This pack turned out to be perfect for me. It has a large main compartment that is accessible from both top and bottom, plus at least 8 different compartments where I can store smaller stuff. It even came with it’s own rain guard (perfect for the rainy UK!)

Pack prep

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