By Andrew Boudon
Brian and me right after the marathon
So during this semester abroad, it has seemed like a lot of the students in the program just happen to like the show Friends. Randomly, without warning, people will remark, “this is just like that episode of Friends where…” and everyone will understand. And it occurred to me that, really, study abroad has been a lot like a good season of Friends. And this is an analogy that I intend to bear out.
Within a few weeks, the major cast falls into place. Because the program brings together people from a lot of different places and backgrounds, you can get people who fall into a wide variety of character types. From week to week you and your friends face new experiences and challenges to being abroad, usually with funny results. You develop recurring jokes and themes within your group; this connection comes easily because, no matter how different two students are, they have so much in common just because they’re studying abroad in the same place.
Since the weekends are usually punctuated with different people traveling to different places, it is easy to see each week or weekend as basically an episode. There may be weekends where your usual companions are gone, so you spend some time with people you knew less. Maybe you had assumptions or reservations about those people, but through the sit-com magic of a weekend, you could find yourself appreciating them in a new light.
The school trips are like holiday specials. You get to experience new scenery, and based on your field trip group you’ll probably hang out with some new people. The trips make everyone sentimental, so you may wind up feeling like you’re learning a life lesson at the end.
Ultimately, though, life is not television. It’s infinitely better. The jokes we have with our friends are funny because they are not planned. They are not scripted. The jokes arise as a natural product of our friendship. I value my friends because they are not paid to be there. They’re always there, and they always give their best; even when the ratings aren’t that great. Even when they know the season has to end.
Andrew Boudon is a Classics and Mathematics student at College of the Holy Cross and is studying at CYA for the academic year 2013-2014!
Although you have to cross half of Greece (at least from Athens) in order to reach them, the Prespa Lakes are worth it, because of their unique beauty, biodiversity and picturesque villages.
Great Prespa is divided among Greece, Albania and Macedonia, while Small Prespa is located almost entirely in Greece, with the exception of a small part on the west, which is Albanian. Both lakes are at an altitude of 850 metres and separated by a strip of sandy land about 4 km long and 200-1,000 m wide.
There are two islands in the northern part of Small Prespa, Vidronisi and Agios Ahilios (Saint Achilles). St. Achilles is connected to the mainland by a floating bridge, which makes it easy to access. On the island of St. Achilles, you will see archaeological, Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments. The most important basilica is from the 10th century. The cultural festival “Prespia” is also organised there in the last ten days of August and gathers internationally-renowned artists, The programme includes concerts, poetry readings and outdoor celebrations.
In the early 20th century, about 10,000 inhabitants lived in the villages of Prespa, which were 18 at the time. Today, only 13 villages are inhabited and belong to the Municipality of Prespa. The population is just under 2,000 in total. Inhabitants work mainly in the agricultural sector, growing mostly beans, considered the best in Greece, while fewer are engaged in farming and fishing. In recent years there has been an upward trend in occupations related to tourism (inns, agricultural activities and products).
Arriving in the area of Florina and Kastoria you will see Small Prespa first. Turn left towards the village of Mikrolimni. The villages of Lefkonas, Kallithea and Plati are on the right, and the next junction leads to Lemos and Agios Germanos. If you turn left, you will reach Great Prespa, Agios Ahilios, Pili and Vrontero.
The most famous and developed villages of Prespa include Psarades and Agios Germanos, located northwest and northeast from Small Prespa, respectively. In the pedestrian zone of the picturesque village of Psarades you will find many taverns, offering specialties of the region. You can have coffee while enjoying the tranquillity of the village.
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ATHENS, Greece—Some fight debt crises with austerity. Others fight them with luxury beauty products.
In the upscale Kolonaki district in central Athens sits a five-story, all-organic beauty store called Apivita, complete with a spa, library, hair salon, garden, pharmacy and juice bar—a truly surreal sight after seeing and hearing the devastating effects of the financial crisis in Greece. Royal jelly and carrot juice are not things people usually associate with an impoverished population.
On the last day of a media tour by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, I visit the high-end store. Through large iron doors, inscribed with bees and flowers in this neoclassical building, customers are greeted with a “hospitality table”: dripping golden honey with the honeycombs still in it, dried apricots, almonds, walnuts, dates, and mountain tea. It’s a common platter at a beekeeper’s home in Greece, and one that owner Nikos Koutsianas (a beekeeper himself) would present to visitors of his pharmacy. Honey, considered an ancient medicine here, is found in most of the store’s products, sourced from Apivita’s 300 local beehives in Greece.
An olive tree towers through the open ceiling, peering into the second floor. The walls are lined with organic products, from facial masks, to shampoos, to cologne. This store has been open for three weeks, the first of its kind.
Owners and employees of Apivita passionately proselytize their belief that the crisis that left the Greek economy in shambles is not one of simple economics, but a crisis of conscience.
“It’s not just an economic crisis,” Tassos Choukalas, the head of sustainability, tells me. “The real reason this is happening is more of a crisis of ethical values, a crisis of not-so-ethical business, a crisis of society, an environmental crisis.” …
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The Greek mother is a special breed of person, a nurturer whose love for her children is boundless. And wherever her child may go, near or far, her home-cooked food invariably follows. The Greek mother’s food parcel – moussaka, stuffed vine leave, pies and every other delicacy that can be packed into a plastic food container – has been has been making its way through airports, ports and even intercity bus stations all over Greece and around the world for decades now, most often packed into the luggage of sons and daughters as they head off to university.
These days, meanwhile, as young Greek adults head further and further away from the nest in search of jobs, this practice has experience a surge that goes hand in hand with the typical overprotectiveness of most Greek mothers and everything else that entails.
The typical relationship between Greek mothers and their children, one which is often manifested in food, is the subject of the documentary “Food for Love” by Marianna Economou, which will be screened on Wednesday, December 11 (at 9.30 p.m.) as part of the Cinedoc festival currently being hosted by the French Institute in Athens.
The camera follows three moms – two in Athens and one in Agrinio, western Greece – as they prepare food parcels for their children in Scotland, Romania and the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina.
“I told him: I’m sending you artichokes, meat, apple pies and raisins. And he just started going on and on, complaining. But you know that he’ll be overjoyed when he opens the parcel,” says one of the mothers as she tries to pack the food into a suitcase in such a way so that it won’t be found too easily in a customs check.
In a recent interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA), Economou said that she believes the typical Greek mother is anything but an endangered breed.
“That’s what compelled me to do the documentary,” she told AMNA. “I thought it was a practice that was traditional, but the opposite is the case. When I started seeing that all my friends were sending parcels of spinach pie on the sly, I admit that I was intrigued by the phenomenon and wanted to explore it.”
“Food for Love” has been screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival as well as at other festivals in Europe in the past year. It also did very well when it was screened in August by the French-German television station Arte, part of a tribute to Greece.
The way the film is perceived by non-Greeks is as “something that is either very funny or very odd,” says Economou.
“Foreigners wonder how it’s still possible for mothers to behave in this way toward their grown-up children. I try to delve into the psychology of the Greek mother in the film and into what food means to her in terms of her relationship with her child. We know that food has a symbolic dimension, and the truth is that most Greek families are connected through food,” Economou told AMNA.
French Institute in Athens, 31 Sina, tel 210.339.8600. A second screening of the documentary will take place on Sunday, December 15, at the Danaos cinema (109 Kifissias, tel 210.692.2655, 210.692.2609).
Most locals of dopios are not professionals in the tourist industry. They are here, every one of them, to offer you something different; to let you in their city in a way that isn’t so much about specific routes or spots but rather about the feeling of that city, its sound as it can only be heard by someone who is part of it. Each local is there to share with you who they are, to let you in their own small world, one way or another, which belongs in the bigger picture.
My small world revolves around books.
Books carry on their fragile pages the thoughts on mankind. And since it has been said “I think therefore I am” one can say that books are arks of existence. And how do you make such an ark? Simple- by binding a book…
Almost all civilizations have created something that could be qualified as “book”. Clay tablets linked together, bamboo strips forming a continuum, papyrus scrolls, etc. The common form we take as granted today was an ergonomic innovation that gradually won the competition. The first reports of such books date back to the ancient Romans. But a book that can traverse centuries with its precious content always available is not an easy thing to produce. It must be resilient, functional and aesthetically pleasing. The procedure involves some 40 different stages, in some cases even more.
At first there’s only a number of loose folios with the content of the -yet to be- book printed on them. Then the folios are folded, placed in front of cord strands held tight on a frame and sewn to each other in a single body. Now you have something that is compact, readable and can be carried around. Yet it is still fragile, awkward to use and difficult to store properly….
Greece has played in the past a crucial role in the history of books, with its peak during the prime of the eastern Roman empire centered at Byzantium. You can still get a glimpse of a time where books were among the most treasured possessions by visiting monasteries across Greece, especially at Meteora and Mount Athos. Many of these grant supervised access in their libraries where codices have been kept for eons. The monastery of Patmos is renown for its precious collection. Last but not least the Byzantine museum in Athens has a number of codices on display.
By Harry Crimi
Of all the islands in Greece, Rhodes holds a special place in my heart. It is home to one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes. According to my family, I was born a rather big and plump baby, with a serious and somewhat agitated expression on my face. My Aunt Cathy and Uncle Angelo found this amusing, and would always call me the “Colossus of Rhodes”. Well, even after I thinned out and gained the happy face I often wear today, the name just kind of stuck. Every now and then, I would hear that name addressed to me, and I always wondered, “What does that actually mean?!” Ever since then, I’ve had a desire to travel to Rhodes and go full circle with this childhood nickname of mine. Finally, I was finally able to go there two weekends ago with my friend Salpi and her friend Ansgar, and the experience was….well, pretty colossal.
The dogs of Rhodes. My personal favorite picture of the weekend.
As I quickly discovered, there is a lot more to Rhodes than just the history of its Colossus. Rhodes is actually home to the best preserved Medieval town in the greater area. Rhodes’ “Old Town” is surrounded by huge fortress walls built by the Venetians and used by the Knights of St. John. It is comprised of narrow corridors of cobblestone floors with traditional lanterns lighting the way. We strolled through there on Friday night, and were amazed at how massive the walls were, and how heavily fortified the Old Town was. There were dozens of canon holes and openings for shooting arrows. Normally in the summer these cobbled streets are lined with crowds of tourists going to local tavernas or souvenir shops, but since we went in the off season, we had the whole place to ourselves. Unfortunately, this also gave us a lot of trouble trying to find a place to eat dinner, We eventually got lost and ended up at a seafood restaurant, where I ate the best, and most expensive, seafood I have ever had. On our plates that evening were: freshly grilled octopus (of course), stuffed calamari with feta and tomato (AMAZING), and a local fish called ‘”Dentrix”. To celebrate our Rhodes arrival, we decided to indulge and get a bottle of delicious local white wine. We made friends with the owner and eventually got desert on the house. After the dinner, we wandered around the harbor and got some more desert…who can resist real Greek frozen yogurt with gobs of nutella?
The fortress walls of Rhode’s Old Town
One of the entrances to the Old Town, with a hint of Autumn through the middle.
Then we found it: the bases for the Colossus. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the actual statue, just the bases on which it is believed he stood. According to some experts, this massive bronze statue stood at the entrance of the harbor, most likely to highlight Rhode’s increasing economic success from sea trade in ancient times. It is said that his feet stood on two bases that line the harbor entrance, forcing ships to cross beneath him. However, the statue only lasted for 50 years due to an earthquake that sent him tumbling down.
The bases of the Colossus!
Me imitating how the Colossus supposedly stood. I think I still got it even though I am no longer a chubby serious baby!
The next day we walked around the city to catch a glimpse of the basses in daylight. Rhodes’s symbol must be a deer, because on each base there is a deer statue, and all over the streets there are deer mosaics. Apart from the Old Town, Rhodes is also known for its city of Lindos. Since it was the off season, most of the buses were shut down, so we made friends with a taxi driver, who was actually from Lindos, and got a discounted rate to and from the city. Like every other male in this country, his name was Costas, and told us that before the crisis he was a professor in restaurant management, where he taught how to treat tourists as actual human beings and not just walking dollar bills. His positive outlook on Greece and tourists was very refreshing. Lindos is a quaint city that rests below a massive acropolis that dates 50 years before the acropolis of Athens was built. On the Lindos acropolis, there are remains to a temple to Apollo, which we were able to go inside since we were the only ones there; technically that’s illegal…but oh well!
Salpi and I inside of the Temple to Apollo!
We take full advantage of sneaking into temples.
Of course most of the restaurants were closed since it was November, so we wandered around until we found one taverna that had lights on inside. Much to our surprise, the old man who owned it decided to open up four hours early for us (I forgot it was Siesta time where everyone is napping)! After lunch, we called Costas to pick us up, and we went back to the Old Town for drinks and calamari with the owner of the fish restaurant. We seemed to make a lot of new friends that weekend in Rhodes! We then did our normal nightly routine: get fro-yo and eat it next to the Colossus bases. Not a bad way to spend my weekend nights.
Lindos during sunset. The picture has all of the typical island characteristics: A city full of white houses on a cliff side overlooking the water.
On Sunday, the Old Town was suddenly bustling with tourists and open stores because a cruise ship rolled into the city that day. To the shop owners of Rhodes, this meant all hands on deck! We went window shopping and came across some boats on the harbor that were selling local shell trinkets. The experience was something that reminded me of my family vacations to the beach, so I felt right at home and knew that this is somewhere I want to take my family one day. We then decided to go swimming! Yep, I’m still swimming in Greece, even in mid November! The Aegean actually was pretty cold and rough that day, but failed to prevent us from jumping in. Later, we saw the sun set into the hills of Turkey on the horizon. As opposed to all the other sunsets, this time the sun turned a bright pink that lasted in the sky a good hour after it went down. It was the perfect way to end our stay. The whole weekend was such a joy to me, and I thought of my aunt the whole time. I am so happy I had the chance to have such a personal trip, and I can’t wait to show all the pictures and videos to my family.
The sunset with the hills of Turkey in the background.
The pink sun…something I have never seen before.
Harry Crimi ‘15 is a student at Holy Cross College and is attending College Year in Athens for Fall 2013.
In Athens, I learned what we really mean when we talk about community, about traveling without doing harm, about seeing a place for what it is. I sit at a cafe on a square where riot police just supervised the removal of a burned out car. Banners crisscross the trees. It’s sunny. When Henry Miller came here in the 1930s he found a place where people were not isolated and greedy, as they were in America and the rest of Europe. People opened up, offered him friendship, and he fell in love with the whole nation. He was a romantic, an essentialist, and he was in his own way a bit of a racist - but traces of what he saw remain. If you want to travel and do it with your mind switched on, in order to see things as they are, then come to this city, sleep on someone’s couch, throwaway the guidebook and buy some ouzo. Make friends with all the many little gods the Ancient Greeks left behind, and leave only the faintest trace when you go.
…The point of all this is to say something quite simple about being a tourist here: it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can be a series of gifts, exchanges. For a week now I’ve been staying in the spare room of a woman I met on Couchsurfing. It’s a network I’ve always wanted to use but never really had need of - wherever I’ve gone there have been friends or family to put me up. My host’s attitude is just like that of the man who sold me figs and gave me raki, and welcomed me: she is generous, kind, curious about me and happy to show me her side of the city. The sense of community we so often despair of - “we” being capitalism’s lost children, we who think we’re connected but are secretly anxious that we’re nothing but isolated avatars - still exists. It requires a leap of faith, but it does a lot of good. For one thing, you do not have the carbon footprint of staying in a hotel. You simply slot into someone else’s home, and it doesn’t require much more water, electricity, heat. But more importantly than that, Couchsurfing is a system that requires generosity, and reciprocity. It’s an economy of gifts, not of scarcity. If we are ever going to change anything - what we do the environment, what we do to ourselves, wealth gaps, gender gaps - then being more generous is a good place to start….
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