Reading the Odyssey, I never thought I would experience an adventure even remotely similar to the wondrous events of the heroic epic. However, this summer in Greece, I was proven wrong. The short term study abroad trip turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime with rewarding knowledge and marvel around every corner.
From our first dinner in a little tavern in Athens with traditional cuisine and Greek dancing, I knew the mood was set for the entirety of the trip. Every location and site were reflected in the joy and amazement of our entire group, particularly emanated by Dr. Collins, Professor Loehle and our outstanding friend and tour guide Mara Kanari. Beginning in Athens, and then traveling between the islands of Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, and Crete, before returning to the mainland for a few final days spread between Corinth, Nafplio, Delphi, and again Athens, I was overwhelmed with the beauty, history and hospitality that Greece had to offer.
Though I was thrilled of course to be in a foreign country studying art and art history, the magnitude of what we were doing didn’t truly hit me until we were standing at the foot of the Parthenon looking up at the precise and everlasting architecture of the structure. You walk in through the Propylaea, the entrance to the Acropolis, and then there it is, right before your eyes: the Parthenon. It is humbling to imagine a civilization so advanced to have created such a colossal wonder. I found this to be true at every site we visited, be it the expansive ruins at Delos and Mycenae, the civilization at Akrotiri, or the great Palace of Knossos in Crete, one of my favorite sites having previously been introduced to the history of the Minoan people. It was life changing and indescribably influential being able to experience such a monumental piece of history on location. There is something profound about experiencing a site like this in person, because it suddenly becomes more attainable and real. The knowledge and information becomes your own.
The trip of course was filled with awe inspiring wonders like these, where pictures in textbooks came to life before my eyes. This was the case with many famous pieces, like the Bronze Zeus, the Kritios Boy, the Cycladic figurines, and the boundless gold of the Mycenaean culture. And as if experiencing ancient Greece in its truest form wasn’t enough, the professors surprised us with a spur of the moment trip to Isthmia, an active dig site in Corinth, where we were given a behind-the-scenes tour of archaeology being conducted in real time. Dr. Tim Gregory of Ohio State University even allowed us to walk on and analyze a beautifully restored and well preserved mosaic floor of a Roman bath house. The site was made only more astonishing when water was poured on the monochrome tiles of the mosaic and each and every distinct color was made visible. It was truly a memorable and altogether inspiring experience, being some of the only people besides archaeologists to have stepped on that floor.
Between hiking volcanoes, riding donkeys up steep cliff sides, swimming in the Aegean Sea with the Temple of Poseidon in sight, and watching one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets from the heights of Santorini, this trip was truly an excellent blend of “harmony and contradiction.” This phrase as coined by the ancient Greeks, fully expresses the circumstance of our time in Greece, where one minute we could be beach side on a sunny island, and the next deep in the mystical mountains of Delphi.Yet somehow, thanks to the ingenious and boundless insights of our professors and tour guide, each and every destination and experience cohesively worked together to create a seamless string of knowledge and awareness. This trip to Greece, with its rewarding, exhilarating, and life changing experiences, can only be described as an odyssey, and one that given the opportunity, I would gladly take again!
Holly Bostick ’15 is an art history major, minoring in Spanish.