Wow. The days are all blurring together. I should really try to blog more often so I can distinguish the days from each other. It is hard to blog and sit on a computer when friends, homework, coffee shops, bakeries, and Greece are calling my name. I have neglected this blog and updating facebook pictures in favor of building relationships, exploring, and making memories. I think most would agree I have chosen the more rewarding path, but I am sorry that my days might run together.
Saturday we had class day number five. We had class on a Saturday to make up for Thursday when we went to the Archeological Museum, and because we leave for Israel in four days. As my friend Evann mistakenly puts it, "You take some.You get some." Her intention is correct, and I am happy to give and take for the sake of this whole semester's worth experience. After class I had the chance to skype with some friends and family during the day. I talked to mom and dad for a while before dinner. It was the first time we got to talk together as a family unit, and face to face at that. It was so good to see them. I am so thankful for the technology that allows me to stay connected to all the people I love and miss. We made our 'skype date' with the intention of talking about an opportunity for me to go to Barcelona for a travel weekend in March. I am so excited to say that my parents encouraged me to go and join the group of 10 already going! Later that night we booked our tickets. I am beyond thrilled to get to spend 4 full days in Spain in the beginning of March. As my dad said "What a way to celebrate your 20th birthday...in Spain!"
After dinner in a wonderful local taverna down the street, we headed back to the Artemis to hang out and relax. The entire group played Sardines for a few hours, and it was so much fun. Sardines is a game of backwards hide and seek. One person hides within set boundries of the the Artemis and its outside campus. After a few minute all the other players search for the solo player. Once they find their mark, they have to slip away, unseen, and hide in the same spot. This continues until the entire group is hiding in one place and only one person is left seeking. At this point the round is over and the last person left seeking becomes the person to pick the new hiding spot. In the third round Kelcey and I tied for last place and were then tasked with the hiding job. In a moment of kismet, we simultaneouslly locked eyes on the cabana roof on the back patio. We hopped up onto a stone wall and hoisted ourselved onto the rooftop where we would end up laying for close to an hour. We layed there in the silence and cold for what seemeed like forever as the rest of the group proceeded to wander around searching high and low, but not quite high enough. It was only after Victoria climbed a fire escape ladder were we discovered. We climbed off the roof and defrosted ourselves by the fire place before heading for bed and calling it a day.
Sunday I slept in until 1:30pm. I know you are probably asking "How could you sleep that late when there is so much to do in a place like Greece?" Well, I will tell you. I am a night-owl. Curfew is at midnight and then I staty up an additional few hour each night catching up on homework or talking with people back home. It is difficult to get all the homework I need to get done during the day when there are more fun things to do, so I stay up late and get it all done. Sunday is our only day to sleep in. We leave for church at 4:30pm, and the rest of the day is ours, so I spent mine catching up on all the lack of sleep. I love my bed here. I am no longer worried about sleeping soundly this semester. I am so comfortable each night, and I find that the only thing I dread is the moment when I have to get out from under my covers and take the first step on the cold marble floors in the morning. I suppose it is a good thing that this moment begins each day and that the day's events can only become more pleasant as the time passes.
After waking up and getting ready for church I had a few hours to grab lunch and do some homework. But while putting off that homework, I made a very tenative plan for free travel at the end of the semester. The people I am thinking of traveling with made a list of ideal places we hope to visit. We then pulled up Google maps and plotted a rough estimation of our route and calendar days of locations. It was so fun to talk about all the great places we will soon be seeing. On the tenative list so far we have Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Czech, France, London, and maybe Ireland if flight prices permit. Wow. Can you believe that last sentence? Do I really get to go to all of these places? All of this, not to mention the sites we are about to see in Israel in less than one week. At 4:30pm we loaded the bus to go to church. I love church in Glafayda. The singing is wonderful, and we even sang two songs in Greek. Hopefully with more practice I will be able to learn what they mean and maybe be able to pronounce the words.
Monday, after class day six, I used a lot of the iTunes money I got for Christmas to buy a few new albums. I made a playlist of all of my new songs and proceeded to knock out 4 hours of homework. It was a very productive day and overall pretty relaxing. Ten people from our group left for the evening to work with a local ministy that provided meals, showers, and laundry services for refugees in Athens. Since Greece is widely considered the gateway to Europe, ther is an overwhelming population of undocumented refugees from many of the surrounding countries. One of the members of the church we attend in Glafayda is a missionary in charge of this ministry on Monday nights. The rest of the group who did not get to go this week, including myself, remained at the Artemis and enjoyed a relaxing night of watching the Lion King.
Tuesday, we had a quiz over the Greek alphabet. I now know how to write and pronounce the entire alphabet. This is a big step, because now I can sound out most words. Our Greek teacher likes to point out everytime we use an English word that has Greek origin. It reminds me of the dad from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (hence the title of this post). Over the past few days we have learned almost 80 words, all of which sound just like the English word. Being able to read and sound out words is a big step toward understanding and feeling more comfortable here. After dinner our group went to the beach of the Aegean sea to hang out and built a campfire. It was a very cold night, but by the fire we had a great time. After most of the group made their way back to the Artemis, those of us still at the campfire had a little devo. We sang some praise song and as we were wrapping up two men walked up and asked where we were from. They recognized our use of English and stopped to say hello. They were from Florida and in Greece on a mission trip. What are the chances? It was definitely a cool moment. When I got back to the Artemis I got a chance to call my aunt and cousin. With all the ice and snow back home they were out of school and it gave me a chance to call during their afternoon. My cousin is seven years old and when he found out I was leaving for Greece he became curious about the language. My aunt has been updating me about his interest in Greek over the past two weeks. He bought a conversational Greek book and is learning phrases he thinks I might need while I am here. He is so sweet and I was anxious to call him to trade the words we have learned. It was nice to be able to answer all of his questions and tell him about new words and cultural difference here. I am definitely impressed by his curiosity. We talked until right before curfew and I had to explain to him that I had to go because it is 8 hours later here and I had to go to bed.
Wednesday, after more classes and lunch time, I played ping pong for a few hours. Part of the group went into Athens to the mall. Another group climbed "HUG mountain" for a few hours, and I went with a group to some local stores and to a coffee shop. At a local bookstore we found lots of popular American titles in all Greek text and we found some really cute children's books. Later in the afternoon we studied and worked on a project for Humanities. My partner, Jill, and I were assigned a city in Israel to connect to its biblical origins. Today in class we presented and heard lots of information about the many cities we will see next week.
My roommate, Victoria, almost got to go to a Greek fashion show but discovered at the last minute that tickets were sold out. In order to cheer her up we put on a HUG fashion show. We turned the disco ball on and set up a runway in the dinning room. Victoria's (secret) Fashion Show was a success! It was so much fun that our professors joined in on the catwalk.
Today I woke up to a very dreary scene outside. It is pouring rain and the mountain outside our window is covered in low clouds. After class and lunch concluded the group settled in for a movie day. We just finished the Disney classic, Hercules and now we are watching The Mummy. Tonight I will start packing for our ten day trip to Israel. Today marks a full two weeks since arriving in Greece.
A lot has happened in the past week. Things are always changing. With the situation in Egypt escalating daily it is doubtful that we will be allowed to go. The directors here are working hard to find the safest situation for us and they are currently working on a contingency trip to Turkey if the problems in Egypt do not resolve in the next 4 weeks. Things in Egypt are very dangerous and unsettled right now. We are all praying that things calm down and the government is able to stabalize for the sake of all the citizens. I am really hoping to go to Egypt, but if it doesn't work out I am sure Turkey will present other great opportunities and amazing experiences.
For now, we go to Israel and wait to see how things pan out in Egypt. Sorry this is such a long post, but I hope I gave a good account of what is going on over here. I also hope you have a great day and that you stay warm in the midst of the crazy cold weather blasting lots of the United States.