Karlie T. - 3rd Year Sociology and Anthropology and 2018 Greece Field School Alumnus
My time in Greece was nothing short of incredible! As this was my first trip to Europe, I am truly grateful for my overall experience. Each day in the busy city of Athens provided an entirely new cultural experience. It was particularly impactful for me to connect the topics we studied in class to the city as we explored it. For instance, after learning about the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1922, the seemingly disordered city design of Athens started making more sense, as I now knew the city was built haphazardly to accommodate a drastic increase in population. This “disorder” in design seemed overwhelming and chaotic to me at first but after two weeks of wandering through the city, I came to appreciate how it influenced the local people. Watching the locals maneuver around Athens with its unique design was like watching an intricate dance known best by them and seemingly illegible by the a newcomer. The historical undercurrents explicated to us by the courses we took made a lively city bursting with culture truly ours.
Molyvos provided an entirely different cultural and learning experience. Contrary to Athens, Molyvos runs at a much slower pace. This allowed us to really engage with the locals within the village. On a few separate occasions, I spoke with folks about local-life, tourism, and the 2015 refugee crisis. Furthermore, a local hotel owner visited our class, to personally discuss her experiences during the crisis with us. Though evidence of the crisis is almost completely gone in Molyvos, it is still a contentious topic for many on the island. By discussing these difficult topics, I developed a new understanding of how this event significantly impacted the lives and livelihoods of locals. Moreover, engaging with the locals created a humanizing effect, which caused me to reflect upon my Canadian view of a distant event, and allowed me to focus on the people and their experiences.
I am profoundly touched by the experience I had in Greece. Whether it was in the classroom, on a field trip, or adventures during our free time, this experience has connected me with history in a way I never thought possible. It challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally. My two months abroad gave me an opportunity to reflect and grow, and to become a more engaged and thoughtful world citizen. For that, I am forever grateful to Hellenic Studies.