Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ancient Architecture

This is a page from my notes in Ancient Architecture today!


It is snowing in Athens! All day it was deathly cold and partly sunny with little flurries floating around.  We had our second day of classes, so now I have officially seen every class I'm enrolled in, and so far so good.  My Culture and History of Modern Athens class sounds like it's going to be fascinating, but quite depressing, as it is all about the development of Athens as a capital city from the late 1800s to present day.  This includes social activism as seen in demonstrations, riots, graffiti, and art around the city.  My teacher is very passionate; she got her degree from NYU and is half Indonesian, half Athenian, so she has a very unique perspective on the culture and city.  My other class today was Ancient Architecture.  I absolutely loved it!  I can already tell that it will mostly be over my head since I've never taken an official architecture class before, but I'm hoping that I inherited some of the engineering genes which are so abundant on the Polvi side of my family.  We immediately delved into drawing the two main orders of columns from the time period we're studying, Doric and Ionic, and so far it's really fun!  I've never been much of an artist, but I think I'll be able to handle this because they're mostly just sections stacked up and semi-straight lines. The professor is great, he is kind of soft spoken with a very thick Greek accent, but seems to really love architecture.  He also gave us every term first in English, and then in Greek, following the English term with "--which comes from the Greek word...", immediately reminding me of the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  A very entertaining way to pass the time when the lecture gets a little monotonous.  I just can't wait to get on-site!  He mentioned touching the ruins and going up on scaffolding to see all of the angles, which means that the rumors that I heard are true.  I just wish it would stop snowing and get warm already, because as long as we have record lows, my Athenian teachers will never take us outside, they think it's the end of the world when it's 35 degrees!  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with my amount of homework from only two days of class, but I just have to remember why I'm here and try to get the most out of the whole experience.  I also think that once I get the hang of the classes, it won't be as hard as Willamette.  Until then, off to finish my Homer translation for the night!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Some pictures

 the Zappion, a building right near CYA, built for the first Modern Olympic games in the late 1800s.
 the Kallimarmaro (beautiful marble) stadium
 My first greek coffee in Athens!!
 View of the acropolis from Monastiraki!
A gorgeous church plopped in the middle of Monastiraki. 

my list: feta, bread, salami, nutella, and mythos...

Today was our first day of classes and I had two; Modern Greek and Ancient Greek: Homer.  They cancelled my accelerated Modern Greek for Classical Greek students so I was randomly placed into a 101 class. I think the basic class is going to be much more simple but it is nice having a larger class to make friends with. Already the teacher is moving quite slowly and talking about how hard conjugating and declining is going to be for us.  I will just try to use that extra time to study my vocab because at least that will mostly be something new for me.  I think I want to try to find a place to continue with my modern greek when I return to Oregon because it is so fun speaking a new language!  My Ancient Greek class seems really interesting as well.  The professor is this crazy British man dressed in tweed with a gold pocket watch and matching ballpoint pen.  He made us read aloud in dactylic hexameter the first class and gave us a goal of 39 lines translated of the Iliad by Wednesday. I'm really glad I bought a special Homeric Lexicon to help me through the first few classes!  Tomorrow morning I have Modern History and Culture of Athens and Ancient Architecture as well as Modern Greek again.  I'm really excited for Ancient Architecture, although on the syllabus it says we will have to freehand draw once in awhile which will be an interesting experience for me!
Besides my first day of classes, I also went grocery shopping.  It's definitely not looking like I'm going to become a master chef while I'm here (I know, big surprise).  So far my big ticket items are: feta, salami, cucumbers, olive paste, bread, and yogurt.  Not a bad diet if I do say so myself. There is also a killer bakery down the street that my roommate and I have already hit up a couple times for these amazing fudge-y chocolate cake bars.  Enough about food, let me talk about my location for a minute.  My school, called Dikemes in Greek or College Year in Athens in English, is located literally on the street of the Panathenaiko Stadium, or  Καλλιμάρμαρο  Stadiou which is this huge stadium that was the site of the first Modern Olympic games in 1896. My favorite spot in the CYA building is on the third floor where there is a floor to ceiling window with a gorgeous view of the parthenon and the national gardens.  It's been bitter cold here since I got here and we're supposed to have a cold snap this week (we actually got a warning e-mail that temperatures are supposed to get down to 35). My poor flatmate from Florida is freezing all the time but luckily the heater in my room works beautifully and we have kept it at a toasty 27 degrees Celsius.  I'm now going to try to post some pictures on here since I finally figured out how to make all the headings in English instead of Greek!

ΚΑΛΗ ΕΒΔΟΜΑΔΑ (have a nice week!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 5: the amazing Athenian race

Today we were split into groups and given a map and directions for a scavenger hunt across the city. There were professors posted up in various districts to talk to us about history, current events, and hot spots.  My group made it to Monastiraki, Exarchia, Gazi, Psyri, Syntagma, Ermou, the National Garden, and the Zappeion from about 11:30am until 4 pm.  I'd already been to Monastiraki (this amazing flea market) and Syntagma square, which is where my hotel was when I was in Athens two years ago.  Zappeion was a huge beautiful building which was the spot of the first indoor Olympic event in the 1896 Olympics. Gazi is pretty much all bars, nightclubs, tavernas, etc, but I'm excited to go back to see the old gasworks which is what the district is named after.  Exarchia Square was a really cool area, described as "alternative" and "artsy" with lots of students and artists but not as many anarchists as Omonia, a district we're strongly discouraged from visiting, especially after dark.  I ducked into this great cafe and bookshop which was just filled with smoke and people doing important things, whether it be homework, writing, or participating in passionate discussions. There I ordered my very first Greek coffee EVER. I know, how have I not had one before?? Luckily, today in Modern Greek class we learned how to order Greek coffee (w/ sugar, medium, or black).  I definitely want to go back to this area to explore the bookshop awhile and sit and pretend like I too have something important to write or read.  I had an amazing and overwhelming first week but I am very excited for this weekend because we have absolutely nothing planned!  As I'm meeting different students, I'm getting excited for classes to start, but I also expect to fully enjoy my last weekend before school begins.  Dikemes (the Greek name for my program, College Year in Athens) is doing a great job so far of welcoming us and helping us acclimate.  So far I feel very at home in Athens and the more I get to know the Greeks the more I fall in love with them.  I can't wait to improve my Greek and meet more locals.  Have a good weekend everyone!! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Με λένε Lacey

Hello friends!! I feel like I've been in Athens forever but really it's only been two days. So much to tell...orientation has been going well. We have loads of free time (which is aided by the Greek siesta every afternoon where everything shuts down from 2-5). The highlight of my last two days has been my survival Modern Greek class, I love speaking it! There is so much expression and passion in the language. Tonight we are all going out to a ταβερνα or taverna to have a huge greek meal, I am VERY excited. As you all know, I am a huge fan of Greek food, and while our two cafeteria lunches we've had so far have been exciting and new, I still feel like I haven't had a good Greek meal yet. Last night the school hosted two traditional Greek dancers who came to show us some moves, it was really fun! This week's itinerary includes a huge scavenger hunt around the whole if Athens, Amazing Race style, and a visit to the U.S. Embassy to learn about emergency procedures and what not. Another fun fact about my new home: Shortly before I left Oegon, I made an interesting discovery, the makeup brand Korres which is sold at Sephora is hased in Athens! What I did not expect was that a Korres store would be right next to my school! Trouble...I did some damage there today but it was worth it. Who needs to eat right? Oh, I suppose I should write a bit about my apartment and new friends, i think I've been extra scatterbrained lately since I don't have school to keep me in line...o am living in Παγκράτι (pronounced Pangrati) about two minutes from school. It is very European, with tiny streets and old buildings and a huge church in the middle of it all. My apartment is tiny but it's quickly becoming home. My flatmates are so great, I'm quickly making many friends. There are students from all over here, especially the east coast! I will let you all know how my dinner is tonight. ;)

Until next time, καλησπέρα!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Essentials: Visa and Course selections!

About ten minutes ago I received a nonchalant call from my Dad in Salem, "There's an express package here I just had to sign for..." Gee, Dad, maybe my VISA.  Collective sigh of relief from the audience, it was!  As the day of my departure draws near, (17 days) I am perfecting my 8 page packing list (don't worry, I'm just very thorough) and anxiously awaiting my flight back to Oregon so I can actually start putting things together.  I've also been working on a document full of easy recipes as my culinary repertoire is currently dependent on the availability of a toaster and microwave, two things I will not have in Athens.  Anyway, my cooking adventures should make for humorous blog posts later but  I thought now, before the grand excitement of arrival, would be the perfect time to give you all some background on my program and the courses I've selected.

My program is a relatively small American school in downtown Athens.  I'm not sure about the total number of students this term, but usually it averages around 100 per semester I believe.  The school offers courses in a variety of disciplines such as religious studies, philosophy and political science, all within Modern Greek studies, Byzantine studies, and the Classics (which is my bag).  I am taking a wonderful assortment of courses, which I am quite proud of.  First, I am taking Intermediate Greek: Homer, a natural progression which will also most likely be read at Willamette, but how much cooler is it to translate Ancient Greek in Greece?  My next class is Advanced Modern Greek for Classical Greek students.  I think this will be invaluable because it is very helpful and more rewarding to know the language when living in a foreign country for a substantial amount of time. (When I was in Greece for three weeks two summers ago, I never felt like I was out of the loop as most people we encountered knew English, but I know that my experience would have been even better if I'd known how to at least read the street signs).   My third class is Ancient Greek Architecture from Archaic to Roman Times as Reflected in the Monuments of Athens, probably the longest title of any class I've ever taken, but I'm really excited for that one!  My last class is Modern Athens: History and Culture of the Greek Capital.  I'm happy with the variety of classes I chose and can't wait to let you know how they're going!