Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On the road again...

Well this year has certainly been a whirlwind. I am now almost 4/5 done with my master's program and this year I have had a ball down in sunny Southern California! I have discovered a new passion for Organizational Development while figuring out how to incorporate my existing love for ancient and modern Greece in incredible ways. I've started taking modern Greek language lessons at a local Greek church and have enjoyed building a community with my fellow students and hellenophiles and I'm currently working on co-writing an article with my professor addressing the Greek "Burden of Antiquity" as it relates to org development!

I have made lifelong friends as we have suffered together through a program where we were thrown off the deep end with real life consulting projects and a barrage of group projects. This year I have been blessed with way too many things to count, but my latest excitement is that I am going back to GREECE! For the very end of our program we are traveling to Ireland, DC, and NYC for corporate visits, and a couple friends and me were able to finagle a quick trip over to Athens for the week before! I can't contain my excitement, it will be so fun sharing my favorite country with friends. I will try to be better about updating this blog so I can record these crazy next few months because I'm sure I won't remember everything after the excitement passes. Crazy things to come! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Living in a freshman dorm again?

As I write this I'm sitting in the same dorm that I lived in when I embarked on my Willamette adventure four years ago. This week I've have the unique opportunity to relive my freshman year as a Program Assistant for a new program at TIUA, "Window on Willamette." What's really crazy is that this is how I'm spending my last five days in this state, truly putting my last ounce of energy into this school. So far I'm loving it! It makes me wish that I'd gotten involved with the ASP (American Studies Program) students at Willamette earlier. I'm sure there will be hiccups, exhaustion, and I will become more and more overwhelmed as I simultaneously try to prepare for  my move to California and participate in the program, but so far I think I've made the right decision. What a way to tie up my experiences at WU.

Conversely, after WOW commences on May 31, I will embark on a grand adventure down to Azusa on June 1!!!! I couldn't be more ecstatic. I've already plotted the nearest Trader Joe's, Jamba Juice, and of course, Starbucks. In my preparations I've also been working on my required readings for orientation. The first book is about identifying and cultivating your identity while focusing on spiritual formation as an essential aspect of leadership development. It has been so encouraging to realize that APU truly strives to focus on God as the center of all of its curricula. At this point I can see so clearly why God wanted me to go to Willamette and I am so thankful for the experiences and unique opportunities I had there, but man I can't wait for some spiritual nourishment and education rooted in faith!!

I am beyond stoked for the next year, and I hope to keep this up as a way to chronicle my adventures as I attempt to navigate the ridiculous traffic, prices, and amazing HEAT of sunny SoCal. Bring it on! :D

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Study Abroad Part 3: A Weekend on the Most Famous Island

After a whirlwind Spring Break in Crete and Rome, Morgan and I headed back to Athens to rest up for a night before the final leg of our break, on the beautiful island of Santorini!!!  After what seemed like a million-hour ferry ride, we arrived on a gloomy, rainy island covered in pure white buildings.  This is what it looked like: 

We then went to our hostel, which was pretty standard, and then set out to explore the port! We stayed in Fira, which was a great choice because we were within walking distance with the main bus stop and tons of amazing little shops, as well as the big church. This came in handy later, as we arrived on the eve of Greek Easter and we decided to participate in the celebrations! Anyway, that afternoon we explored Fira, shopping and observing, even walking on one of the famous donkey trails (sidenote: the smell detracts from the romanticism just a bit) It was worth the view, though. 


Even without sun it was breathtaking! 
While we were out exploring, we were lured into a shop that offered free samples of candied nuts and ouzo, obviously we couldn't refuse. It turned out the owner also had a taverna right next to the big church, and he informed us that he was going to be open after the midnight service to serve magiritsa, traditional soup made with lamb intestine! An offer we couldn't refuse, we made a reservation at his taverna and went home to take a nap, setting our alarms for 11pm. We woke up and headed towards the church, where people of all ages were streaming in, but not before buying a candle outside. Cautiously we filed into the packed church, and absorbed all of the sights, sounds, and smells around us.  Eventually, after hundreds of people had come in and moved to the front to kiss the main icon, the lights went out in the church, and the head priest appeared and started a beautiful chant (it was pretty hard to see, but luckily my Finnish height was no match for the Greeks around me so I could catch the excitement up at the front of the church).  At exactly midnight, a flame starting with the priest began to pass through the entire church, while he proclaimed Christos Anesti (Christ has risen!). People began lighting each other's flames saying Christos Anesti, and then Alithos Anesti (He has risen indeed). And slowly the church was filled with light.  It was so unreal being there! After everyone's candles were lit there was a mad rush for the door and I basically crowd surfed out of the church. We headed next door to our friend's taverna and had the famous soup! It wasn't too bad, had a solid lemony flavor, and I was so hungry at that point the texture didn't even bother me (yeah, 4th meal!). :)  We had tons of fun in the taverna, as the proprietor kept filling up our wine glasses and brought us hard boiled eggs died red so we could play the traditional game that's basically "my egg is stronger than yours is".  After a long day of travel and one of a kind experiences, we fell into bed around 2am, while the Greeks in Fira were just getting the party started.  

The next day we decided to find the beach, the sun shone down and we headed to Parissa, one of the famous black sand beaches....can't believe I never published this post! Just came across it...guess I'll publish it as is and finish up the Spring break stories another time. I am so bad at keeping up with this thing!

Moving: reflections on moving on, moving to a new place, and being scared to death of change

It's been awhile, but I'm getting ready to move again and thought it might help to process the changes that are coming my way via blog. I'm currently working on the first draft of my senior thesis, which is essentially the biggest material representation of the culmination of my four years as a student at Willamette--not a big deal at all...

My thesis also is triggering many "lasts." (And causing me anxiety about missing fun "lasts," but that's even more motivation to buckle down and git er done.)  When I was about a month away from finishing up my semester in Greece, my roommates and I began making bucket lists, not a good idea. There was so much pressure to have notable experiences at all of our favorite haunts, and it was downright depressing! Not to mention the sinking feeling when you realize you're just not going to make it back to that obscure Harry Potter-themed bakery across Athens--but I digress.

Today I went to a meeting for the student committee planning our Interfaith Baccalaureate service and was forced to really consider what Willamette has meant to me and what I want to remember and be remembered for. I didn't think I'd get this sentimental about graduating, I've been trying to get out of Salem for years! I guess I am a creature of habit and I like knowing where the good water fountains are on-campus and where I study best (law library!)  I'm scared to go to a completely different school in a new state and have to figure all of that out again.

I'm pretty excited, too.

As the cheesy Vitamin-C "ultra-graduation" tune goes..."As we go on we remember all the times we had together, and as our lives change from whatever, we will still be friends forever." Way too much emotion and not enough depth, but that's a typical pop song for you. That's how memories work, though. The most obscure and seemingly trivial things can bring tears to your eyes five years later as they trigger some small thought about an old friend or favorite place, smell, song, etc.  Ahh nostalgia...I think I felt this way after high school, too, and I thought I would never attain that pure happiness that comes with being completely comfortable and confident in my surroundings, but I did.

And I'm pretty sure history repeats itself. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Roma, Roma, Roma: Spring Break Part 2!

Arriving back in Athens Monday morning, I had just enough time to unpack, repack, and grab a quick gyro at the local souvlaki stand, before my roommate Morgan and I hopped over to Rome for a week!  A few hours later, we were checking into our hostel, which I would totally recommend for any women travelers.  Papaya Female Hostel was located in a super safe, residential area just a 7 minute walk from Termini Station, which was super convenient.  It was also only about a ten minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, Barberini station, and all of that good stuff.  After getting settled in, we headed out to explore the area, and ended up meeting up with a friend who was also spending a few days in Rome.  We got dinner, and then headed to the Trevi to make our wishes and get our first gelato of the trip.  Here is a picture of us tossing our coins, the flash was a little too close, but I think you can still make out our excitement. :) The other pic is of our first Italian meal!

The next day we found the best breakfast place EVER.  A small espresso cafe, the 0.70 espresso shots and 1 euro pastries were literally my dream come true.  It was a typical place, with a large counter manned by baristas which kinda reminded me of the octopus from Monster's Inc. -->

After yelling our orders above the din of clattering cups and saucers and shouting Italians (un latte and that pastry right there) we settled down at the counter to drink the best coffee of our lives.  We decided to go back every morning after that and cycle through the drinks and pastries.  After chasing my latte with an espresso shot, I was on top of the world and ready to rock and roll.  
We headed off for our grand adventure, and our day was full of churches, beautiful piazzas, and a handful of famous sites!  I think my favorite part about Rome was seeing Latin everywhere in the city! It was so much fun to read the inscriptions and recognize the titles that I'd seen in readings at Willamette.  

The Fountain of Four Rivers at the Piazza Nuova (where we also had the best gelato of our lives)

 Oh hey, Pantheon!
 I bought a really cool postcard that kinda looks like this...guess I could have just printed out the picture.
 Then we headed towards the Colosseum and the ancient city center!!
 Secret: It's really big in person, too.

 We found a great museum area upstairs!

Here's me in front of the triumphal arch!!

After starting out at our little breakfast place, we headed to the Vatican on Wednesday.  Upon arrival, we saw a huge crowd outside St. Peter's and the Pope was on the big screens! Turns out every Wednesday in the morning they have a service and he blessed a bunch of people, so that was cool to see.  We headed around the corner to the Vatican Museum and boy, that was an experience.  
I am already planning my next trip because I feel like I have so much more to explore!  

In the museum we amused ourselves by venturing off the beaten path to the Sistine Chapel and exploring the many empty rooms of things like the Etruscan collections and Modern Art, because frankly, this is what I felt like when we were walking through the main hall (except for I didn't have my dad to save me from the stampede of tourists).

Anyway, so we had a lot of fun avoiding the crowds and did eventually make it to the big room, which was fun mostly because I liked watching all of the creative ways people found to stealthily take pictures of the ceiling. Next, we hit up the Vatican Museum Pizzeria for some much needed sustenance, and then went into St. Peter's Basilica! It was very beautiful but also full of funny people. 

After that day of sensory overload, we needed a good nights rest to prepare us for the next day's appointment at the Borghese Museum.  Luckily, upon arrival at the expansive grounds of the Borghese estate, we saw on the map a little picture of a giraffe, labeled Bioparko.  Upon further examination, we realized that there was a ZOO there!! We had lots of fun unwinding at the zoo.  
The Borghese museum was very beautiful, and my favorite piece in the collection was a Bernini sculpture of David winding up with his slingshot.  After the museum, we headed over to Trastevere to get some lunch! 

 Yummy organic gelato that we found! Pistachio and chocolate. :)
 I loved the street signs in Rome!! So fancy.  After a lovely afternoon in Trastevere, we headed to the Colosseum hoping to grab a snack with a nighttime view! It was so beautiful and the perfect ending to a great few days in the Eternal City.  Full of a sufficient amount of sugar and carbs, we headed back to Athens the next morning to get ready to get wild on the island of Santorini! (haha just a pun!)

Spring Break 2012 Part 1!

It's already the end of the week after Spring Break, and time is actually flying by at this point.  I received very exciting news when I arrived home after break--my aunt Karry is coming to Athens for my last week!! I am so stoked to show her around my temporary home and take her to all of the sites, because I also think it will be a great way for me to say goodbye.

I have started listening to Greek radio on my computer, and I am officially obsessed!  I also think it's good way to practice my Greek because whenever there's a song I love that I want to find again, I have to listen very, very closely to the lyrics in home of salvaging a line or two to feed into Google.  Also, the commercials are hilarious!

I suppose you're wondering about Spring Break! So far it seems that everyone from CYA survived their respective travels, but dang we were sure spread all over Europe! Surprisingly enough, many students spent at least a few days on Santorini, I guess that is on pretty much everyone's list.  It didn't disappoint!  But I supposed for my own sanity I should write about my adventures chronologically, so I will start with Crete!!

Thursday night, April 5th, a group of us departed for the CYA-led optional trip to the island of Crete.  I am so glad that I chose to sign up (a HUGE thanks to the Willamette Classics Department and Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology because without their help I never would have been able to sign up and pay for the trip back in November).  We took an overnight ferry, which was more like a cruise-ship, on the right is a picture of me and one of my roommates, Morgan, in our room on the boat!

We arrived on the island at 6:30am Friday morning, and after a very fancy breakfast on-board (great coffee) we met up with our hosts, Ann and her husband.  Dr.Brysbaert is a CYA professor who is currently on leave, working on super cool research for the year.  They were so great, and I especially liked her husband because as a Finn, he looked SO much of my Grandpa and his brothers!

Ann was great about balancing the sites with fun breaks, so over the course of the weekend we saw Gortyna, Rethymno, Gournia, and Knossos, as well as different historical aspects of Heraklion and Chania.  Our hotel was in Heraklion and it was so lovely!  We were right around the corner from a plaza with tons of shops and food, as well as a street market, so we had lots of fun.  There were also many different places to get Bougatsa and Loukoumades, which are two delicious Greek desserts! Saturday afternoon after being on-site we drove to a beach, Matala, for lunch time and a wonderful two hours lounging in the sand and eating lunch!  Many kids also jumped in the water for a swim, but I couldn't get in past my ankles.  The weather was glorious the whole weekend, and we all got a lot of sun! Saturday night we went out for a Cretan taverna dinner and it was so great.  We ate tons of Greek food that we recognized, as well as a few special dishes.

It was so wonderful to have such a knowledgeable professor leading our trip, and it was the perfect recipe of loads of sunshine, great food, and amazing sites.  I can't wait to go back!

Here are some more pictures of Crete!

 the market in Heraklion
 A beautiful view from Rethymno!
This is what we saw our first morning at Malia, one of the four palaces of the Minoan civilization, it was incredible how much of the foundations were actually still standing!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The land of marble: a Weekend in Paros

Last weekend I was transported to another time.  Wandering through white-washed villages and flying down country roads on an island I barely had heard of before Friday, I had the luxury of experiencing something that most people never do--a Greek island in the off-season.  The island of Paros is known for its marble quarries which have been used for constructing monuments since Ancient Athens.  Besides the marble, Paros is also known for its beautiful villages, perfect beaches, and warm breezes.  Only a four hour ferry ride from Athens, it also sees a lot of visitors in the summer months.  Our guide informed us that the island booms from a mere 8,000 inhabitants to 80,000 in the summer.  I personally can't even imagine what the island must be like with so many people in the narrow streets.  Luckily, we were able to walk through the quiet villages of Lefkada and Naoussa with not a tourist or tourist shop in site.  The beaches were completely vacant, but it was a beautiful weekend, especially for this Pacific Northwesterner!! Our first excursion when we arrived was a mild hike up to a monastery which was unfortunately closed, but that didn't stop us! We actually climbed over a low stone wall and then saw a perfect birds-eye view of the island.  Here are a few pics:

After that we went to our hotel which ended up being a small cluster of traditional, white-washed homes accented with different bright colors.  Our little house had a bright yellow door and shutters, which was so adorable! It was probably one of the coolest places I've ever stayed at.  Here is our little home: 

Above: Peek-a-boo!

Allie and I in front of one of the adorable little houses at our hotel!

Later that night after a quick siesta we all met in the dining room to have a cooking lesson! This mostly consisted of me watching and drinking wine while others made stuffed peppers and tomatoes, mousaka (a true feat), chicken fricasse, homemade bread, octopus, potato salad, and orange cake! Here is a picture of the preparations and the dining room of the Anezina Village Hotel. 

The next day we met bright and early (as in breakfast at 10:30) and headed out for a day of beaches and hiking!  First we did a nature walk up to this beautiful lighthouse with a gorgeous view of the island.

After that we went to a beach for a spa treatment that consisted of grinding the rocks to form a muddy paste.  Everyone covered themselves in the mud and waited 15 minutes for it to dry.  According to our host, after the treatment you should be ten times more beautiful! Unfortunately, I could not imagine submerging myself in the freezing cold water so I refrained from the treatment. But it was sure funny to watch! 

Later in that day we explored some of the picturesque villages of Paros.  The houses and views were breathtaking!


The next day we visited the adorable town of Naoussa!!

After what was most likely our best weekend so far this semester, we tearfully rode away on Sunday night, determined to return to Paros someday.