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Greece Day 3: A Pita Greek Education

By Meghana Veldhuis

· Greece 2023

Due to technical difficulties, pictures will be added later.

Day 3: March 20th, 2023 

Hello everybody and welcome back to the best blog this side of BCA.

(I really tried to do something with the alliteration there, as I’m sure you can tell.)

Anyway, I would like you to imagine that, for the past two years, your job has been dictated by an organization that we’ll call, I don’t know, “IB.” And your salary is ultimately dependent upon a test that “IB” gives you at the end of these two years. And, for the first three days in a good long while, you have not been thinking about “IB” because you’ve been away on a trip, but, for this trip to count as full professional development, you have to visit a different company’s location. Imagine that, right when you enter the other company’s parking lot, you’re greeted with a large poster that says “IB,” reminding you of the fact that your salary is dependent upon this test that you’ve been studying for for the past two years.

I’m just joking; we all love our IB courses. Still, that’s kind of the experience we all had when we showed up to Pierce, although their IB poster was pretty nice and I think BCA should buy one, too.

I ought to begin at the beginning of the day, in which we had more lovely hotel breakfast and then left for the school at 8:45 am. We took a very nice bus (it had curtains!) to “Pierce—The American College of Greece,” or just Pierce, because they decided not to go down the BCA route and call it “PACG.” It really is a very cool building—they have a whole snazzy security gate to enter the parking lot!

There, we were greeted by a group of Pierce faculty and students. There was actually a really funny moment where the Greek and American parties were standing facing each other, and I thought that we were going to have a dance-off. Alas, there was no dance-off (though there will be something kind of like one tomorrow—stay tuned!). Instead, the Greek students were remarkably friendly and spoke beyond excellent English, and we had very nice conversations about Pierce and BCA and what life is like on both sides of the Atlantic.

We were given a brief tour of Pierce, during which we got to see that they have an amphitheater and swimming pool, both of which I think would benefit BCA tremendously and should be brought up at the next budget meeting. They also have an auditorium with a stage that looks remarkably like BCA’s, which is labelled as their Theater, and a smaller auditorium that we spent most of our early morning in.

BCA prepared a lovely presentation on American government and BCA students’ political involvement in the world, and the presenters all did very well. We got a bonus audience of random Pierce classes—I believe they were slightly younger than us—who had a free period and were permitted to listen in. It was a full audience and a very well-prepared presentation!

A hit of the presentation were the large bags of American candy that BCA students had brought in and passed around the audience, because everything’s better when you have the taste of artificial watermelon in your mouth.

Then we had lunch in the Pierce cafeteria, which actually somewhat resembles BCA’s upper cafeteria in that they both have full walls of windows. Pierce’s, however, leads into a courtyard, and, in the lovely weather, we were able to spend time outside. So many Greek students were very friendly and held conversations with English grammar that was practically better than the Merriam Webster dictionary—I truly was in awe.

Speaking of classes, we got to attend a Pierce class—either IB Psychology, IB History, or IB Physics, which was introduced to us as “IB Physical Sciences” and led to the question of if it’s physics, anatomy or geography, or gym. I was in IB Psychology, and we had a very interesting discussion regarding whether religion should be incorporated into psychiatry as a way to connect with patients or if religion is fundamentally too separated from medicine, which led into a more interesting discussion regarding whether psychology can actually be considered a science or not, and, if it is, how can it be mixed with religion in a way that is beneficial to a patient? It was a riveting discussion about cultural differences and was very fitting to the program, comparing American and Greek culture by putting us Americans directly in the heart of Greece.

And that brings me to my thank-yous to all the Pierce teachers for providing us with such an engaging and unique educational opportunity!

That wasn’t all, though! After bidding a short-term farewell to our newfound Greek friends, we met again with Katerina to visit the Stadium, which I feel needs to be capitalized because it was a pretty outstanding stadium. Picture the BCA track, but paint it black, increase it by about 300%, surround it with 200-or-so rows of marble seats with dramatic stairs, and then add some snazzy Greek flags and you’ve got yourself a Stadium.

As anybody who has seen my physical education performance knows, I am not qualified to remark on the actual athletic quality of the Stadium. I can, however, recommend that you climb all the way to the top rows of seats, if you’re event visiting the Stadium, because you can sit up there to recover from running up 200-or-so rows of stairs and can look at the world below you as if you’re a bird. I’m not somebody who’s particularly into sports of stadiums, but I am extremely nosy and like looking at things, and perching at the top of the Stadium is an excellent way to do so while observing quite a bit of Athens. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry; the fact that it’s in a valley, of sorts, means that you’re protected from the wind and don’t actively feel like you’re going to be blown all 200 stairs down.

After exhausting ourselves trying to race each other—BCA actually stands for “Bergen County Athletics”—we went to have dinner at a nice café, and then had a few hours to wander about the Plaka, in very safe groups of three or more classmates. I would recommend that, in your own very safe group of three or more, you visit places in both the daytime and the nighttime: there’s an entirely different beauty in seeing a location, especially one that’s already as scenic as old Athens, all lit up and contrasting the black sky, and you might even get to see some stars.