Sunday, September 11, 2011

the second week


The view from our schoolroom balcony.

Sunday, September 4th- Day 6


We began the day with brunch at our landlords' house. They live next door to Lauren, Cristina, and I and are very sweet. Everyone came, including all the program directors and teachers, and ate the meal prepared by our landlady. There were lots of unique little appetizer-like dishes. Some were okay, but I didn't really care for a lot of them (which was awkward, because I didn't want to seem rude and not eat them!). Everyone was really nice though and we had a yummy orange gelatin-type thing for dessert.

After that, we hopped in our swimsuits and headed to the beach! It's just a five minute or so walk from our apartments. There isn't any sand along the shore, just rocks, but once you get in, you can stand and there's sand beneath you, very soft and nice. The water is so beautiful and clear. Just gorgeous!

Then, we went to the mini-mart for some food. It's just down the street and almost always open, which is very convenient on an island with siestas. It has most basics so I was able to get some fruit, pasta, yogurt, and water.

This is where the day takes a bad turn . . . I was in the building working on homework and uploading pictures when I felt very suddenly sick. This was around 6 o'clock. I hadn't eaten since brunch, so I went home and ate a peach and sat on the patio with Brandon, but it didn't help. I was sick three times on the patio before we went down to Brandon's apartment so I could lie down. Sick at least 5-6 more times there. Then went to bed and was sick about 3 more times. Such a miserable night and threw up more than I ever had in my life. :(

The apartment.

Monday, September 5th- Day 7


Still feeling sick, I didn't go to the first day of classes. Panos was worried and offered to take me to a doctor, but I'd begun to feel a bit better by then. I think I had food poisoning, though I don't know what food it was. All I had was the brunch on Sunday and no one else got sick. According to some medical website I looked at, sometimes it can take days for food poisoning to show up after eating the culprit food. So maybe it was something I had in Athens?

Slept the day away before walking over to the building at night to e-mail and skype. Still felt weak and nauseous when I headed to bed.

Our school building.

Tuesday, September 6th- Day 8

Although I still felt weak, I didn't want to miss another day of class. We started with Greek, which was scary. Our teacher is crazy, but very entertaining. And since I missed the first day, she let me just listen. Everyone is in the same class (the 12 who have already taken Greek 101 and the 4 of us who haven't), so those who haven't had Greek have to catch up quick. I felt overwhelmed but just tried to get down some of the alphabet even though my teacher wasn't teaching it today (because most people are far past that). Instead she had people pronounce words, an activity which seems impossible to me when I can't even say the letters of the words they're pronouncing . . . I miss French!

Mediterranean Cultures was next and because our guest professor from Drury is Ioana, a biology professor, we'll be learning about Mediterranean plants. It's not a subject I'm very interested in, but Ioana's enthusiasm makes me more excited for it.

The rest of my day was spent e-mailing the professors of my online classes (Journalism Activities and Creative Writing- Nonfiction), trying to study Greek, shopping for an adaptor (the one I brought doesn't work), and reading.

It was rough going because I still felt very tired, weak, and nauseous, but still a productive day.


Wednesday, September 7th- Day 9


Greek class is still scary, but do-able. I studied a lot for our quiz (which is Thursday), in which we have to know all the Greek letters, uppercase and lowercase, their pronunciations, the order they go in, their names, and how to spell their names in Greek letters. It was difficult to study for (it felt impossible at first!), but I was pretty happy with my progress by the end of the night.

I spent most of the afternoon working on my first article for the school newspaper, the Mirror. I'd never written a newspaper story before, so it was a little nerve-racking. Hopefully it'll get easier as the semester goes on!

Aigina harbor.

Thursday, September 8th- Day 10


After our Greek quiz (which wasn't too bad) and Culture & Place, a few of us found a shop selling ice cream. I got Bailey's-flavored and it was delicious! We went to the beach again afterward. It was as beautiful and refreshing as ever (and amazing on a hot day like this).

Then we trekked to the grocery store for the first time! It's about 15 minutes away from our apartment. Far superior to the mini-marts around, the grocery store has a much bigger selection of food, so I was really excited to look around. I found a lot of yummy things that made me less worried about what I'll cook here in our minuscule kitchen. It was still very different from grocery shopping in America though.

Shampoo and conditioner were ridiculously expensive (4 E and 5 E each). Cereal is about 4 E. Meat was just generally expensive (even fish), so I'll be eating a lot of vegetarian meals. Produce, though, is pretty cheap. Bought lots of peaches and kiwis. Lettuce, however, cost a bit more than most veggies, so I had to pass on that. Bread is weird-- most of it is on the hard side, even the sandwich bread. Alcohol is very expensive except for ouzo (Greek alcohol) and some wines. For some things, like cheese, we couldn't read the labels at all so just had to guess at what to buy!


Perdika.

Friday, September 9th- Day 11

A big group of us traveled by bus to a beach on the south of Aigina called Perdika. It was pretty, but hard for both swimming or laying out. There were rocks, not sand, and getting out was difficult because there were rocks right beneath the ladder and some had sea urchins on them that were hard to see. There was lots of shade, at least, and places to sit. I got a bit burnt on my stomach and arms, but it was overall a nice place to spend the afternoon (though I think I prefer our usual beach).

After that beach, the group split up and Brandon and I headed back to the apartments. We went shopping and made pita pizzas for dinner-- delicious! Just toasted pita, tomato sauce, feta cheese, Greek cheese, and a little pepper microwaved.

Hypatia's adorable dog, who once ran away to Athens from Aigina!

Saturday, September 10th- Day 12

Our Culture & Place teacher Hypatia invited us over to her father's house where her family was stomping grapes that day! It was amazing. They had a big stone rectangle filled with grapes that you hopped into once your feet were clean and then stomped around. All of us girls tried it. The grapes were really squishy and smelled wonderful. All the juice drained out a pipe in the side. They also used a grape press to get even more juice. When they were done, we all tried a sip of the grape juice. It was very sweet and I just tried not to think about how many people's feet had touched it.

After, we had dinner at our teacher Ioana's house. It was scrumptious-- lentils, spicy greens, cheeses, bread, figs (my first try with them- they were very, very sweet!), olives, wine, etc.

When we got back, Lauren and I were on the balcony of our apartment talking. Our neighbors across the street were having a party on their rooftop with lots of people. They saw us on the balcony and started waving, so we waved back. Then they started beckoning us over and before we knew it, one of the guys who had been waving appear down on the street, smiling and telling us to come down. Knowing it would be a cool experience to see a real Greek family party, we went!

The guy was named Kristos and he was 25. It was either his sister or his cousin's party (I couldn't really understand him) and about 50 family members were there on the rooftop. They were very friendly, asking our names and where we were from. They offered us beer, which we refused, and wine, which we accepted, and kept saying we should eat (even when we insisted we weren't hungry). Finally, before he could stuff it in my mouth, I did have a bite of the chicken that Kristos's uncle (and our neighbor) offered. It was very juicy and delicious. Kristos's little niece, who was probably 2 or 3, danced a bit and people shouted "Opa!"

When I was going to bed, I could still hear the party very loudly and from my window I could see people Greek dancing, shouting "Opa!", and smashing plates. :)

3 comments:

  1. Oh no, I'm so sorry that you got sick! :( That's dreadful. But it sounds like things really picked up after that. What an experience you're having there-- smashing grapes with your feet and lounging on the gorgeous (though rocky) beach and learning Greek and attending parties. Opa!

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  2. When you mentioned passing up the beach you cleverly omitted the fact that there were DEER and PEACOCKS on this beach. You're in Greece, for crying out loud, shell out the $6! :)

    It seems like the native people you've met have been really hospitable. I think it's cool that you get to spend that time with them. Interesting.

    I was expecting a bit more of a risque story concerning K. I'm glad it's not, though. haha I think it's incredibly that they invited two strangers over to a family party and treated you like wanted guests--and that you accepted! Sounds like fun.

    Miss you!

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  3. I didn't omit the fact that there were deer and peacocks there! I totally included it. We just had no idea that they would be there at the time. When we heard about it, we just heard that it was another ordinary beach :P And we'd already been at the beach for hours without there being any sand at all! I still stand by our decision at the time (if I'd known there would be deer, it would have changed).

    My dad was totally irked by that thought, btw. He thought I was crazy for passing up a beach with deer!

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