The Goodbye Dinner

Dinner was wonderful. I was a little nervous when deciding who to sit with, as usual. I want to sit with the alumni, but I feel bad ditching Nicola and Doug. But, they ditched me first to sit with Jason. That was okay though, because I got to sit with some of my favorite alumni from the trip. Rachel, Hannah, Bill, Leoni, and I all sat together. Hannah and Rachel are both recent grads, and Bill graduated in the 1960s. I especially loved talking with Bill and Leoni, they are such sweet people. Leoni and I talked about the sophomore slump a few times again. She keeps telling me to email her with “how it all turns out.” Even though I just met her, it was really awesome to hear that she, without asking details or pressuring to give me advice, was interested to hear what I decided to do with my life. Because sophomore year really is when you have to make the big decisions in term of career path. She just seems like the most wonderful person. I hope to see them again, maybe at homecoming.

During the dinner, Bill got up for a little “speech.” He thanked Brenda, Steve, and Jason for their work and praised the dynamics of such a diverse group. Then he said he held a special place for us current students. It was the sweetest, and made me feel good. Sometimes we, the students, would sort of get forgotten as a minority in the group. So it was nice to hear. Then Leoni said that she was shocked at how confident we all were in who we were. I didn’t know how I felt about that at first. Like, am I really? But, I think she’s right. Though we all question it, what we are doing and where we’re going, we do have confidence in being ourselves. I think that is an important trait that Knox students and alumni share–the ability to find yourself and the confidence to be true to it. Whether Knox attracts those people or it helps its students to do it, I’m not sure.

At the end of the night, it was hard to say goodbye. After the dinner, the wine, the folk dancing, and singing we had to say goodbye before our flights home. It was especially hard for me to say farewell to Bill and Leoni after all the talking we’ve done. I wanted to hear more about Bill’s life on the “social committee” and in Beta, and about Leoni’s adventures hitchhiking in skirts. They had a lot more to share that I wish I could hear. I had wanted to leave so badly, but now I wish there was more time.

Tomorrow, we fly home. It’s been a great experience that I will never forget, that is for sure.

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The Road to Athens

photo 3 (8)Today we left our amazing hotel and started heading back towards Athens. We made a stop in Epidaurus to see an ancient and beautiful theater. It was just fantastic. We got there and saw how massive it was, I think it was bigger than a lot that we had seen. We went up and sat in the seats as Maria, the guide, dropped a single coin in the center of the stage. We could hear it at the very top! The acoustics were perfect, which is apparently why it’s famous. Then some Greek students came in on their own tour. Our guide was talking to them a little in Greek as she was giving her demonstration, and it turned out that they were classics students just like us! That was really awesome, Brenda insisted on a picture with them. And they all seemed like really nice people. We stayed there for a little bit, some people speaking at the center of the stage to hear the acoustics. Jason went up and recited some of  Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Euripides’ Hippolytus. But then,photo 4 (7) Mike, and older alum, Sarah, a younger one, and Maria, an alumnus’ wife, stood in the center of the stage and sang “Hail to Alma Mater.” Hearing that in an ancient Greek theater, hearing the perfect acoustics–it was amazing! They sang beautifully too. Above and to the left is a picture of me and Sam that we took while listening in the theater. The right is of the singers.

At this site, there was also a temple to Asclepius, the god of healing, and a temple photo 1 (11)to Artemis. The reason for there to be a temple for Artemis was mysterious to me. Perhaps because Apollo is also a god of medicine and he is associated/related to her? The remains of the temple that we have are fascinating because along the very top of the pediment, instead of the usual lion head gutters, there are dogs and a boar. It was beautiful and very mysterious. Why would they change their style for this particular temple? As far as I know, we don’t see other temples taking on that particular god’s symbolic animals in the gutters. Interesting. I also just love Artemis. She is a total badass. And she is most of the most intriguing goddesses, along with Aphrodite. Today I saw a statue of her in armor, which surprised me. I thought that goddesses were either seen as sexual or as warriors. But, Jason told me photo 5 (6)that the very first time we see her is in battle where she is injured. I hypothesized that she was injured because she tried to straddle both categories. If that makes sense. I think the relationship between sex and war when correlated to goddesses would be an awesome thing to look in to. Later we went to Corinth and saw another temple of Apollo. It was cool. There were some really adorable stray dogs there.

This trip has been fun, informational, and enlightening in more ways than one. It makes me realize how much I love Knox, especially after meeting all of these alumni. But the trip is also showing me how much I appreciate America, even if I claim to hate it. Which I do. There are a lot of things about the US that I don’t agree with. But there is nothing like being home in a place where you speak the native language and understand all the customs and social norms. I miss home a lot.

Mycenae

Today, Mycenae. I woke up pretty refreshed today, which was good because I was starting to feel pretty run down. photo 5 (5)We started at one of the settlements of the earlier “empires” of Greece. These were old. Like, Trojan War old. They were after the Cycladic civilization and the Minoans of Crete, though. So we went to the acropolis at the “capitol” of Mycenae, where Agamemnon would have ruled if he happened to have existed. There was an interesting burial site on the Acropolis, though it was slightly lower and to the side, more like the necropolis. The burials were in a circular tomb with shaft-like graves. And it was inhumation. The bodies were found wearing gold which, along with the close proximity to the palace on the hill, signifies royalty. But, the date doesn’t match what they would need for one of the bodies to be Agamemnon. This grave site was interesting to me because of its closeness to the acropolis. Usually it seems that burial sites are placed farther away from the town and from people. Sort of like “out of sight, out of mind.” Jason said that early Roman burials were also closer to the center of town, even in the forum itself! I thought that was pretty surprising. Maybe for a lack of space, but I’m not so sure. The apparent shifts between cremation and inhumation are also interesting.

photo 1 (10)Later went to a place that I can’t remember, another Mycenaean site. This, another palace on an acropolis, was apparently where Herakles was born. That’s pretty awesome. At this site, there was an original stone floor with a drain from 3000 years ago! Freaking impressive as hell. It was beautiful there. After this, we went to a pottery/sculpture reproduction workshop and store. I bought a thumb ring after much debate about the implications of a thumb ring.

We also went to an orange grove today. I loved that. Yeah it wasn’t photo 2 (10)necessary or academic, as Doug grumbled, but it was fun! This trip needed to be more than just academic. We got to walk around the orange trees and pick our own. I took five to go and ate one there. It was so delicious. Like no orange I had ever had in the US. I still remember how good it was. Now that I’m back in the states, I can’t eat them anymore. At least for now. It’s just not comparable. Also, while we were there, Jason ate five oranges. That was the most impressive thing of the day.

That afternoon, we had some free time before dinner. After a small snack, I went to get some free ice cream, thanks to our guide, Maria. Sarah, Doug, Nicola, and I met Jason there and we went to eat it in the sun on the pier. It was really nice to just hang out and have some good ice cream. Although now I can’t even remember what flavor I had. While we were there, we saw some strange guy fishing with some make-shift pole. We saw him catch some thing, but it was an OCTOPUS. He didn’t seem to want it though, because we just some him take it, rip something off with his teeth, and throw it back in. It was shocking. I was shocked. Like, wow.

Olympia

We went to visit Olympia today! That was pretty awesome. The weather was great and the site was awesome. There was so much there! The house of Nero was the coolest because parts of it were still standing. We assumed it was made into a church at some point. So Olympia was the site of the first Olympic Games and of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World! It was pretty amazing to go there. There is a lot to see there, and also not too much. We did get to see the stadium where the Olympics would have been. It was awesome. Doug and Sam raced around it. They had a friendly footrace. That would be an awesome band name. Friendly Footrace. Anyways, it was cool. Here is a group shot of us at Olympia. Well, I was taking the picture.

group shot

This site is also where they light the Olympic Flame every year for the modern Olympics. They apparently light it  right in front of the Temple of Hera. It’s strange because the site was so low-key about it. It wasn’t even very clear exactly what they do there, I had to look it up. Weird. There was also a pretty awesome temple to Zeus there, which was where the Statue of Zeus was housed. I would assume. But, I though that this temple wasn’t nearly as impressive as the Temple to Olympian Zeus in Athens. The columns of this temple weren’t quite as big, though Jason tells me that the temple in Athens was never finished by the Greeks, but rather the Romans. So, in a way, the temple at Olympia is more “authentic” to the Greeks.

At this site, Jason was also giving us the how-to on spotting Greek versus Roman foundations. The Greeks mostly justfertility goddess used stone and the Romans used bricks and cement. And they used different patterns at different time periods which help the buildings to be dated. Pretty cool. We also went to the museum at Olympia. It was pretty nice. I love looking at statues of gods or goddesses and guessing who they are depicting. It’s pretty fun and makes me feel smart. One thing I really liked at this museum was a sculpture, or maybe an offering, of Hera or some other fertility goddess. It had two circles for breasts, a circle in the middle of the torso, ad a slit at the end of the abdomen. I found it interesting because it shows a differentiation between the womb, the third circle, and the vagina. I liked to think it showed a more complex understanding of the layers to fertility and sexuality. And maybe even the difference between them?

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Also our hotel tonight is wicked awesome. It seems to be more Italian in style, I say as I’ve never been to Italy. But it’s radical. My roommate and I had to wait last to be placed in a room, and we ended up getting a two-story suite! We had a kitchen, a balcony, two beds, a bath, and a shower! We flipped coins and I ended up getting the queen sized bed. The town we’re in is great too. It seems like a summer resort town, next to the ocean. But it’s the winter. So it’s a little more deserted.

By the way, the oranges here are amazing.

Day 7

Today was Sam’s birthday! He is the son of Professor Judy Thorn and he’s the youngest member of our group at, starting today, seven. Everyone knew his birthday was today. We sang to him this morning on the bus and had a cake for him at dinner. A few people even got presents for him! Brenda and Steve gave him a partially functional reproduction of a Greek military helmet. It was pretty adorable. And, over his cake, Jason was the lead singer of “Happy Birthday” to sneakily appease Brenda’s need to hear him sing. So clever.

When we first got to the hotel, I was pretty sleepy and bored. So I bought some tea and sat on a chair next to a big window in the lobby. It was very peaceful. A young alumna, Rachel, and I had a nice chat about pop culture with our tea. Later a dinner, I sat next to Hannah, another young alumna. She was awesome to talk to. She used to be a classics student at Knox and even went to the Centro. I really want to go there, but I’m not positive I have what it takes or will get it. So, it was really nice to talk to her about it. She said she had a phenomenal time there, but it was tough. She didn’t pursue classics after Knox, and she’s now a teen librarian! I think that’s awesome. Introducing young teenagers to books is one of the best things you can do for them, I think. We had some awesome book conversations later. She was just great. I really enjoyed dinner with her!

Until dinner, today has been pretty hard for me. Though having the alumni here with us is great, it’s also not so great. There are very fun to talk to and learn about, but they do treat Doug, Nicola, and I like the children of the trip. It’s pretty irritating because, though I know I am only 19 (but almost 20), I think of myself as an adult. It’s just annoying to be put back in the place of a kid when I’m trying pretty hard to get away from that. But, it’s not too big of a deal.

Delphi

Danita Fleck took this.

Danita Fleck took this.

Today we went to Delphi. Delphi was this beautiful site on the side of a mountain where a very famous oracle of Apollo used to be. Some pretty impressive, real and fictional, people have walked the path we walked. Like Alexander the Great! I love that guy. It’s pretty amazing to think that the mountains I looked at today were the same ones he saw.

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DelphiWe saw treasuries and temples and hundreds of olive trees in the grove below. I honestly don’t have much to say about today. It was a great experience. But it was great because I was just enjoying being there. The Jason, the crew, and I sat on a wall above the theater and looked below for a long time. When the rest of the group was at the theater, because we often went off on our own, we talked back and forth with them. The acoustics were pretty impressive. Brenda wants Jason to sing so bad. It’s hilarious.

While we were walking around, I started thinking about marriage traditions for photo 2 (8)some reason. It’s interesting how a wedding band, a simple ring, dictates how you are socially treated. But, this is obviously a western, Christian custom. I wondered what the photo 4 (5)Greeks and Romans did to signify marriage, if anything. I thought maybe women would have done their hair differently to show one or the other. Doug thought maybe clothes did it. Then it occurred to me that the need for men to show their martial state is probably a modern idea. In antiquity, I would imaging that men, the dominate gender in social situations, had no need to establish themselves as married to the people who would care–as this convention is for the opposite sex. It’s pretty interesting.

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For dinner that night, some alumni bought us, the students, pizza. It was super nice of them. We all had a great and casual meal together. And Leoni, an alumnus’ wife, and I were talking about the “sophomore slump,” which is a totally real thing that I am going through. The name is pretty explanatory. When you are a sophomore, like I am, you go through a slump that includes but is not limited to an identity crisis, and academic identity crisis, and a social identity crisis. It’s super fun I love it. But, it was nice to talk to Leoni about it because she probably went to college in the 60’s, I would say, and she went though the same thing I’m going through now. That’s pretty comforting.

Day 4

DO NOT TOUCH The Temple to Olympian ZeusToday we did a lot. But, our morning was free! Doug, Nicola, and I, or the crew, as I will now calling us, decided to go visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. They were just a few blocks away from our hotel, so it didn’t take too long to get there. The arch was cool, but the temple was absolutely breath-taking. It was HUGE! It towered over us as we walked towards it. Of course, the temple isn’t in tact anymore. But the columns alone tell you just how impressive it used to be. Impressive, and haunting. I loved that a temple to Zeus was so tall and imposing. I couldn’t stop wondering what went on in there. I hope some of it was creepy, cult stuff.

After seeing this amazing structure, we went shopping. It was fun, I bought some great sandals, but not too worth mentioning.

photo 4 (2)At 1pm, we got on the bus to travel to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. It was cold and wet. But again, 100% worth it. This may have been my favorite site. The temple was placed on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea. We had to walk up a rocky, wet path to get to the site. On the way, we saw two actual, real-life partridges. They were very round, but very cute. Or perhaps cute because they were round.

When we got to the temple, it was fantastic. Not only is the temple a marvel in its own right, but its location is what makes it truly phenomenal. If you stood in front of the temple and looked and where it faced, you would see only water sky.

Temple of PoseidonWhen we were there, the clouds were almost ominous. But there was one little crack in the sky where sunlight leaked and light up a patch of the sea. That was what was the most beautiful. And seeing that wonder and power of nature makes it so easy to understand why they believed in nature gods. I always used to tell my parents that if I would ever be religious, it would most definitely be a form of polytheism with a focus on nature. I stand by that perhaps even stronger now. Also Lord Byron wrote his name on one of the columns which is pretty disrespectful, but still cool.

Me with the Temple to Poseidon

The theaterAfter that, went to an old theater. I think I heard Steve say it was the oldest one in Greece. It was fun. Walking around it and climbing on the rocks was fun and refreshing. I never do that stuff in the States. And I love the air in Greece. It seems so fresh and clean.

Last, we took a trip to a nunnery. That was interesting. It was very pretty there The Nunneryand they seemed nice. We, the women, had to put skirts on before we could go into their church. That gave me some mixed feelings. But the visit was nice overall.