Due to technical difficulties, pictures will be added later.
Day 4: March 21st, 2023
Hello everybody and welcome back to the blog! I hope that you’re excited to hear about the halfway point of our Greece excursions!
We started the day relatively early, leaving at 8:15 am to visit Pierce again. We were originally going to spend our second day there on Thursday, but the schedule got switched around and we went for Tuesday instead.
It was just as lovely as yesterday. We began with a tour of Deree, the university that is affiliated with the American College of Greece. It rather reminded me of BCA: for example, they have rooms for groupwork in their library just like how we have the breakout rooms in Commons.
Deree has very pretty buildings and its own little amphitheater, because Greek schools just seem to have those handy. It also shares the field and swimming pool with Pierce. Our Deree representative was very encouraging of the potential of new partnerships with American colleges so, if you’re in college in America and want to consider studying abroad in Greece, perhaps consider Deree!
We then returned to Pierce and watched the Greek students give their own presentation: their traditional dance club performed about 10 minutes of traditional Greek dances for us. For anybody currently in BCA, picture Greek IDA but five times larger. For anybody not, look up Zorba’s dance. That’s what the Greek students called it; from my own research, it appears to be a style of dance called sirtaki. The students invited us to join them on the stage and we did—it is extremely interesting to be at the beginning of the line, so the center of the coil, and see everybody else moving around you like a living kaleidoscope. We’re good enough at dancing when the music is slow, but, when the music gets fast (even though it’s the same steps, just faster), we start to mess up a bit more. It’s okay; there’s always time to practice!
Then we got to join an IB English class, and I’d say that we were assets to that class because we all spoke English well (of course, bragging about proficiency in one’s native language is not exactly a brag). The students in the class I joined were studying Macbeth, and most BCA students have done Hamlet by their senior year, so we had the potential for an interesting discussion about Shakespeare. We ended up mostly discussing America vs. Greece, which was interesting as well. In Greece, you can only drive a car at 18, so they were very curious about my experiences at the MVC as a 17-year-old.
Finally, we ended our time at Pierce with lunch and about half an hour of leisure outside with our newfound friends. We were all upset to have to leave them but were grateful to have been given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a Greek school.
In the afternoon, we took a bus to Cape Sounion (at Greece’s coastline near the Myrtoan Sea) and saw the Temple of Poseidon (which is fittingly on the coast). Nearly every temple we’ve seen so far has been attacked tons of times by enemies of Greece, so I’m honestly very impressed by the level of preserving and reconstructing that archaeologists and historians are able to do. The Temple of Poseidon is built out of marble and limestone—limestone is more porous and darker than marble, which is how you can tell them apart—and used to house a 20-foot statue of Poseidon. Now it houses quite a bit of engraved graffiti, dating all the way back to the late 1800s!
We also got to see the remains of ancient houses and a temple for Athena (because it’s Athens, so lots of things are for Athena). Because Athens is so reliant on control of the sea for their navy and to continue receiving critical food imports, we saw the areas that were transformed into fortresses during war. We also got to see the water and many picturesque islands!
Bonus fun fact: “Cereal” comes from “Ceres,” which is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, who handles agriculture and grain. Hence, “Cereal” is synonymous with “grain.” Therefore, when you see an informational sign that says, “The Athenians wanted control of Sounion to protect their cereal,” it means that they want to continue receiving their grain supply, not that they have a little-known obsession with Cheerios.
We ended the day with a lovely sunset and a restaurant where we saw four different snails. I’m not going to phrase the wildlife of Athens as if it’s all that exotic, because snails and cats are entirely common creatures in various continents; I just think it’s fair to say that, considering how excited we all get when we see a snail and a cat, we should probably consider spending more time in nature when we get back to New Jersey.