Skyline of Athens with Monastiraki square and Acropolis hill during sunset. Athens, Greece

In less than a month I’ll be arriving at the capital of Greece. And for the three weeks after that I’ll be visiting ten different cities as well as countless museums and historical and archeological sites. Despite having had access to the itinerary and syllabus for a few months now, it still hasn’t quite set in. That’s not to say I haven’t prepared myself though.

“We approached Athens from the north in early twilight, climbing a hill. When we reached its peak, we were dazzled to look down and see the Acropolis struck by one beam of the setting sun, as if posing for a picture.”
– Donald Hall

I’m currently working on the pre-departure timeline which is our first assignment that is due for the course, where we are to create a slideshow presentation from the Paleolithic Period to modern-day Greece. The purpose of the project was to give us a foundational understanding about the cultural and technological advances of the country and its people dating back to 100,000 B.C. As we visit the museums and sites we’ll be able to refer back to our readings and place artifacts back to their time periods while knowing information that was relevant at that time.

“We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their roots in Greece.” -Le Corbusier

One of the most interesting things I have learned from the assignment so far is that during the Bronze Age (3000-1100 B.C.), the Greeks had large stone walls that surrounded their cities which were more sophisticated than those of the Neolithic Period. The Greeks of the much later Classical Period (480-323 B.C.) were so taken aback by the sheer size of the boulders that they believed the rocks were placed by cyclops. And it was during the Classical Period in which the Greek established mythology and assigned it to the Bronze Age.

“It takes a lifetime to discover Greece, but it only takes an instant to fall in love with her.” -Henry Miller

Greek mythology has interested me since I was a child and it’s one of the reasons why I chose this program. I read Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series throughout elementary and middle school and I currently have stickers of Athena, Medusa, and Icarus on my computer case. I’m excited to see the temples and the foothills of Mount Olympus in person after spending years reading about them and only ever seeing pictures.

“You can’t swing a cat in ancient Greece without hitting at least one of Zeus’s ex-girlfriends.” -Rick Riordan

There are other ways in which I have prepared myself for this trip. I have downloaded Duolingo and have researched some basic phrases, luckily though many of the places we’ll be visiting will have many English speakers. And if all else fails, I’ve heard from other study abroad students that google translate can be a life saver.

“Greece was a muse. It inspired creativity in magical ways that I can’t even begin to understand or explain.” -Joe Bonamassa

As I countdown and gather my things I reflect on all that it has taken to get to this point. There have been several trips to the study abroad office, financial aid office, and scholarship office. Many emails have been received, written, and sent. But it all has gone by so quick. There are still a few things I need to sort out before the departure day arrives. Until then, I’ll be working on assignments, packing bags, and waiting to take off.