Five years ago I left everything and everyone I had known and decided to study abroad in Greece for three months. Little did I know, this would be one of my most life-changing experiences. I was about to meet people who I would forever feel connected to, see some of the most breathtaking views, and embrace one of the richest cultures. On March 27, 2011 my parents and boyfriend at the time, drove me to the airport. It was a tearful goodbye but I was ready to go on this new adventure for myself. The majority of our group met at the same airport and we awkwardly exchanged smiles, not knowing anyone else going on the trip. We walked onto the airplane, found our seats and reality set in. I was spending three months with this group of strangers, starting now.
We had a five hour flight to England, a layover, and then a seven hour flight to Greece. It was long, tiring, and we were anxious to see what was in store! We all tried to make small talk and get to know each other. We hadn’t brushed our teeth or showered in almost twenty four hours and we all had our own moments of tears for various reasons. If we could get along under those circumstances, I had a feeling we’d be fine. 😉
After finally arriving in Greece, our tour-guide, mother-figure, friend, and caretaker, Aphrodite, greeted the group with open arms and a heavy Greek accent. The struggle was real as I had to walk several blocks carrying my purse, backpack and two massive suitcases, along a bumpy sidewalk while trying not to get run over by the insane amount of people and traffic.
Our group was split up into three apartments that we were previously assigned. Six other girls and I were going to live in the “Penthouse” as we called it, which was a fifth floor apartment. One kitchen. One bathroom. One apartment. Seven girls. This is where we said several prayers. 😉 We decided the easiest way to pick roommates and rooms would be to pull numbers. I squealed a little when Mary Grace (Mace) and I pulled the same number. Mace and I went to the same college but I hadn’t known at all before. We stayed up several nights talking about our families, boyfriends, and anything and everything. Years later, she is still one of my very closest friends and I am so thankful that we pulled the same number! 🙂 After pulling numbers, and settling into our rooms, we toured a little more around our apartment before meeting the rest of the group for dinner. Our space was so minimalistic and European. It was definitely different from what I was used to in the states but after a short amount of time, this place started to fill to the brim with wonderful memories!
The “penthouse girls” navigated our way through the noisy commotion of Athens as we passed stray dogs and quaint shops. This was a big eye-opener for a girl who grew up in the country, but I was so ready to experience a change of scenery. This was what I craved. This was what I wanted. This was how I was going to grow, and experience life like I never had before. Our first Greek dinner as a group was in typical Greek fashion. The food was so real and authentic. Our plates were never empty, our glasses were constantly being filled to the brim, and we relaxed for hours. We got to know each other through small talk, in the midst of our jet-lag and craving sleep. We felt the cool breeze from the open air restaurant and I was in awe that our view included the Acropolis. I headed back to our new, “home” with a full stomach, full heart, and so eager to see what the next three months would hold!
Happy Easter everyone! 🙂