Part II: An Odyssey of Learning

This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Greece made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Read Part III: Study Abroad Creates 'Momentum', Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey]

The author (center) with OU's Alan Loehle, associate professor of art, and Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history and director of Oglethorpe University Students Abroad (OUSA).

Holly Bostick ’15 (center) with Alan Loehle, associate professor of art, and Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history and director of Oglethorpe University Students Abroad (OUSA).

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.

Delphi

Delphi

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 Palace of Knossos

The Palace of Knossos

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.

Donkeys on Santorini!

Donkeys on Santorini!

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 beachside 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.

Part I: “They are Spartans”

Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history, is the director of OU Study Abroad. He and Professor Alan Loehle led the short term study abroad to Greece during June 2013. This is the first in a four-part series about the trip.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We have returned from an extraordinary odyssey across hundreds of miles of Aegean sea, islands, Santorini volcanoes, mountains, and endless olive and oleander. Our OU students stood before the sunlit ruins of the Parthenon, walked where Socrates and Plato taught, examined the sculptures in the new Acropolis Museum, and spent hours discussing, reporting, and engaging in lively talks about ancient architecture, politics, and myth.

At Delos, they stood in burdock growing where lush buildings and mosaics once gleamed in the Attic air; in Crete, they worked through the maze of Knossos, speaking of Theseus and the minotaur; in Chania, they marveled at a reconstructed Minoan boat that carried painted pottery and jewelry once to Egyptian ports 1200 years before the Parthenon was even built.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Santorini, they were dumbfounded at the stark and sublime power of the cliffs and the myth of Atlantis. Several read Plato’s Timaeus. There, they hiked the volcano, rode donkeys on Thirissa, and spent evenings in tavernas dancing the crane dances. Days of feta, bread, olives, baked cheeses, rich Assyritiko wine, sun, deep wind, pure light.

They gave reports and asked brilliant questions, sketched ruins at Delphi, and sang in the perfectly acoustical, ancient theatre at Epidauros. At Mycenae, they stood in the tholos tomb, and spoke of Agamemnon and the gold death mask. Some read the Odyssey; others, the Iliad. As we passed Thermoplyae, they laughed about the movie 300, and bought T-shirts, with the heroic and defiant words the Spartans retorted to the Persians when they told the Greeks to lay down their arms: “come and get them!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHistory was not for them mere words in a thick tome—it was alive, it was before them, it was under their sandalled feet, it was in their blood.

They felt it and knew it.

On boats, buses, on foot for many hours, our students voyages across vast expanses of water, through mountains and apricot groves, down twisting white alleys of Mykonos, upon slick marble floors in hotels and lobbies; our students journeyed with notebooks full of ideas and history and dates and poems and drawings, with digital cameras filled with thousands of photos of old widows in black dresses against blue doors, or of tanned fishers in the shoals, or of nameless dogs asleep near Byzantine churches, or of themselves, laughing and singing, and dancing—as they all did—like Zorbas in tavernas smelling of jasmine and kalimara. Oopah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho said learning should be all so serious? A Greek philosopher once said, we learn best when we laugh. Our students laughed at misspelled signs, worry beads, the wild chaos and charm that is Greece, the odd times of shop closings, but mostly at themselves, falling over stones, suitcases, and falling in love with every beautiful man—or woman—they saw. Apollos and Aphrodites on vespas—they are everywhere in Greece. Oopah!

We have not heard such excellent reports given with such passion and insight. Our students will never forget the flame of skies, the early morning belled sheep, the climb up Palamidi. They will not lose sight of what they accomplished and what they witnessed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn one of our final days, after long hours of talking and analyzing myths of Zeus and Demeter, history, ancient ruins, and wars, we took a silent sacred run, our ritual at Delphi, and saw, laid out before us, the outline of Gaia, the Mother Earth goddess, honored before Apollo and Dionysos were worshiped at the Delphi.

We watched in striking silence the sun curve across her flanks. We drank from the sacred Castelian springs, the source of poetic inspiration, as did everyone from Plato to Yeats.

No one can take the memories from them now as their coming blogs will show. They will live in our students’ hearts and minds as long as they live. No one could ever take from them now their newly discovered ideas and images—try, and they will no doubt respond: “come and get them.”

They are Spartans.

Part II: An Odyssey of Learning

Part III: Study Abroad Creates ‘Momentum

Part IV: An Oglethorpe Journey

 

Oglethorpe Students Explore Art in the Big Apple

Photo by Robert Findley

An Oglethorpe education seeks to bring together classroom learning with real world experiences. The Art Department provides such an opportunity with short-term study trips, during which students can experience in person the art that many have only seen in textbooks. Their most recent trip to New York City provided students the chance to see, sketch and photograph pieces by some of the world’s most famous artists.

In January 2013, Oglethorpe’s Art Department conducted its annual trip to New York. This 48-hour trip, led by Associate Professor of Art Alan Loehle, took students from the classroom environment and immersed them into the art world of New York.

Photo by Robert Findley

“This year’s trip was beyond successful,” says Loehle, a former NYC resident. “Despite the unpredictable weather, we covered a lot of ground in two days.” Starting at The Frick Collection, students observed 18th-century French decorative arts, Chinese Porcelain vases, Italian bronzes and masterpiece paintings executed by Titian, El Greco, Goya, Van Dyck, and of course, one of the most striking paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Thomas More.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they viewed the ancient art of Greece, Sumeria, Egypt, and Roman antiquities while discovering the masks, textiles and weaponry of Africa and Oceania. “Matisse: In Search of True Painting,” a featured exhibit of modern art, was a special treat. Making their way through rainy weather to Little Italy, the group brought day one to a close with a fabulous Italian dinner and an open discussion about exhibit highlights.

Photo by Robert Findley

The last day for the group was even more invigorating than the first as they navigated NYC’s museum and modern architecture circuit like the Contubernium marching to Cannae. From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, to Bunshaft’s Lever House and to modern art and architecture at MOMA, this vibrant group of 14 absorbed the city’s art world in just two days.

The students who participated in this year’s trip created a diverse group. Not all students were art majors and for a few students, this was their first trip to New York. Student Holly Bostick reflected on her first New York experience while sitting in the LaGuardia Airport. “This was my first time in New York. Though the weather was not what I’m used to and the train system was more complex, as an art history major I know that this is where I need to be. In two intense days, I have seen almost half of what I have learned in the classroom.”

For more information regarding Oglethorpe’s Art Department trips, please contact Alan Loehle or Dr. Jeffrey Collins.

Photo by Robert Findley