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07 June 2011

Greek Travelogue: Epilogue

My trip home was rather uneventful. I had brief layovers in Zurich and Philadelphia. Lauren picked me up at the Atlanta airport, and we stopped for some Buffalo Wild Wings on the drive back to Milledgeville. We didn't end up getting home until around 10:00 PM. Without exaggeration, I don't think I have ever been more tired than that night. The jet lag and the activity of the previous week finally caught up with me. My ankles and feet oddly swelled up when we got back. I felt like an old lady. Luckily, it had mostly subsided by the following morning. It was great to get a full night's sleep and then to get back on my bike for some exercise. Believe me, I got daily workouts from hiking around Athens, climbing among ruins, and generally being on the move (which really gives one a perspective on what life must have been like in the ancient world), but I was fiening for some aerobic work.

I ended up taking nearly 500 photographs over the week. I spent some time yesterday winnowing those down to just 142. Here is a link to pictures on Facebook.

Here is a really helpful map of the Acropolis that Rob and Pam used in class. If the pictures of that site are a little confusing, you can cross reference them here.

I realized that I had forgotten to mention that we had also stopped in Rhamnus during our bus tour on Friday. Rhamnus is an amazingly well-preserved community of a Greek seafaring village. It was a very cool site and, aside from Sounio, offered some of the best panoramic views we encountered.

I also neglected to write about the animals in Athens and Greece. There are countless cats and dogs that simply wander around and live on the streets. They were all rounded up before the 2004 Olympic Games, fixed, tagged, and released back into the city. People leave food and water out for them, and they are surprisingly docile.

I noticed an interesting historical parallel between September 11th and the Persian's second invasion of Greece and their subsequent destruction of the Pre-Parthenon. The peoples' reactions were very similar. Both the ancient Athenians and we modern Americans had become very complacent in our militaristic dominance, and with the destruction of the Pre-Parthenon and the Twin Towers respectively, both societies were thrown into existential crises. They also both responded with a military buildup, although the funding of this in both societies was a serious point of contention. I think this might make for a cool paper project for a class with the program in the future.

I mentioned before that one of our hosts at the CYA surprised us when he said that this was a wonderful time to be a Greek and that he'd want his children to be a part of these historic events, particularly the regular protests against the forced austerity measures at the hands of the IMF, EU, and other VSP's. Most parents in the States would not respond as such, and I doubt that the administration at Georgia College would be excited about our students "endangering" themselves by observing. It's refreshing to hear such a perspective in this day.

George the Wine Merchant kind of epitomized a kind of caricatured Greek for me. He was gruff, blunt, animated, and emotional. We weren't quite sure what to make of him, but he did have some good Nemean wine.

Unlike in traditional classrooms where the roles of teacher and student are fairly well defined, there is some ambiguity in this respect with study abroad programs. What is the proper/appropriate role of faculty vis-à-vis students in these situations? I don't think there is one answer to this, but Rob did a superb job of toeing this line. He generally got out of the students way, except when they were obviously lost or when he was formally teaching. He was a great role model.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way this travelogue came together. The one major pitfall was that since we spent so much time doing stuff, I had little in the way of time to write and organize--which, I know, is a good problem to have. I wish that I'd been able to do a little better job of fully documenting everything, and it certainly would have helped if I'd been able to post pictures on a daily basis.

Thank you all for following along in my travels and indulging my vanity. I hope you gleaned some from what I had to write. Please continue to follow me here as I blog more in the future about sociology, religion, education, my pet peeves, and whatever else might be floating around in my cranium. Aντίο!

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