a checklist before the trip (Greece study abroad Part 2)

Okay, maybe not a checklist, but things to at least think about before the trip.

An Introduction

Know the teachers who are accompanying you on the trip.  Many times your study abroad leaders are teachers who are unfamiliar to you.  Go to their office and introduce yourself so they know who you are and you can become familiar with them.  Do not wait until you are in Greece before you start asking them questions.  Also, when you have group meetings, and you don’t have a conflict but you do have a warm comfortable bed, just get up and go.  These meetings might be inconveniently scheduled for Saturday mornings bright and early, but you’ll get some questions answered and meet the people on your trip.

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Dr. Judy Bullington, art history professor and Dr. Mark Anderson, sociology professor

Orientation

Pay attention to the study abroad orientation.  So many students either blow it off, getting a friend to sign in for them, bring homework to work on or just don’t pay attention.  It’s three hours of your life that you won’t be losing.  Plus there is free coffee, and sweet treats like cinnamon rolls and morning muffins.  You can do it.

Packing

You will hear this one million times, but here is one million and one: pack light! Start off by packing clothes that are comfortable and light: t-shirts, shorts, jeans, underwear, cute tank tops (remembering a cover for going into churches or monasteries), a laundry line and detergent! My roommate brought along this great laundry line that twisted so you could easily hang clothes on the line without pins, fantastic invention and highly recommended.  Okay, look at all the clothes you just laid out and eliminate 20%.  It’s okay, really you don’t need that many clothes; you’ll be doing laundry occasionally.  Plus, you are there three weeks; you’ll come to find that some pieces of clothing you brought are more comfortable and more practical, wearing these in rotation.

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Me trying to line dry in the mountains, success rate 37%

{Side note – do not try to hang dry laundry in the mountains, like Olympia – your clothes will not dry. I repeat YOUR CLOTHES WILL NOT DRY.  Now, you might have more luck with the weather than I did, but the moisture in the air there is not your friend. Best places to hand wash laundry – Athens, because it is so hot and humid and the Islands, because of their gorgeous breeze.}

Pack both for warm and cold weather, mostly warm, but we hit a 60-degree rough patch one day in Delphi when we were exploring the Upper Sight.  The misty rain and fog did not help the situation, and for someone who had no warm clothes or closed toed shoes, layers became my best friend!  It wasn’t the greatest day, but it was an adventure, so do I really regret not packing warmer clothes… not really.  I’ll sacrifice one day of warmth, for a lighter suitcase.  You have to cart those things around EVERYWHERE, and it is not fun.  Also, packing light keeps you from asking others to carry your suitcases and keeps your personal items safer. Remember you only have so many hands.

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For the chilly day in Delphi some students purchased a heavy sweatshirt or layered almost every warm article of clothing they owned! Well, at least the latter is what I did.

With clothes being mentioned: for the day, I chose to stick with breezy tops and shorts, but for the evening I did dress it up a bit.  I feel like I was taken a little more seriously rather than another ignorant American college student studying abroad.  But then also, you will always look American, no matter what you do, so embrace it to the best of your abilities and be a great representation of what college students should act like or you can continue to be that American, your choice.

Be prepared to lose at least one article of clothing.   It could blow away while line drying into the hotel’s neighbor’s garden, or become missed placed/forgotten while out.  This happened to me, but I miraculously got back my favorite sweater while out one night in Delphi.  Another group of college students from Nebraska happened to also be staying in the three road town, so it was easy to find our group and return the sweater.  A common practice for traveling abroad is packing older clothing that can be left after wearing it. Some students decided to leave old articles of clothing or shoes opening space in their bags before the trip home.  I encourage you to not do this until the end of your trip, because Isabella, the tour guide, will take your unwanted items and give them to families in need.

Shoes: they must be comfortable.  I know this is a simple statement, but it can be easily overlooked.  Just because your favorite pair of shoes to wear around campus for a day doesn’t bother your feet, they will in Greece.  You do some serious walking here which starts to add up to miles and hours, not the short walk in-between classes followed by 50-minute classes where you sit.   I only packed two pairs of shoes: a nicer pair of sandals for dinners and nights out, and I saved up my money for a pair of Chacos, a sporty form-fitting activity sandal with great support.  But with these shoes be ready for great Zoro inspired tan lines on the tops of your feet.

Toiletries:  try to keep them as small as you can.  I know this probably goes without saying, but I had to mention it.  I understand that some items do no come in travel size.  My solution for packing travel toiletries and not knowing how much shampoo and conditioner I would actually use was to pack one travel bottle per week of each.  This way once I finished a set, I could easily throw it out, opening room up in my suitcase! Also, bring a washcloth, luffa, or something. You will need it to scrub off all the dirt on your feet.  Don’t say eww, it is not that gross.  Don’t worry too much about forgetting something, chances are someone else on the trip will have it, or you can buy it.

Homework

Tired of talking and thinking about packing? Well, let’s briefly skim through another unfavorable part of the trip.  Homework. You will be recommended to finish and turn in your work before departure.  You can attempt to do this at the end of an already hectic semester on top of all your essays and final exams, or you can save it for later.  Most days finish around two, so the rest of the afternoons are free to explore and do whatever you like.  On some days, especially in Athens, it was nice to relax on the community porch (from which you can totally see the Parthenon!!) and work on homework. Another option is to save the work for the plane rides.  I mean they are about 11 hours, what else are you going to do? Awkwardly try to sleep in an uncomfortable upright position? I couldn’t do it, so I wrote my little heart out.

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I’m attempting to write a discovery journal about Athens for my Art History course. It didn’t work. I ended up writing the majority of my course work on the long boat rides, the plane, and in my kitchen once back state side.
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