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Serendipity

by Carrigan Cleveringa

On the top of Areopagus Hill. Literally on top of the world!

 

When I started this trip, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know anyone, I wasn’t well prepared, and my mind was so stuck in winter break to be anywhere near ready to travel half way across the world.

Serendipity: Finding something good without looking for it.

To be honest, I didn’t really come here to find anything. Little did I know I would find myself. It’s been half a week and I have connected more with these people, this country, and this culture than I ever thought I would. Yesterday, we took a day trip to downtown Athens. There is only one word to describe my reaction: amazed. Amazed at the beauty, amazed at the history, amazed at the kindness in these peoples’ hearts.

The Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus

We started the day riding the bus to the metro and learning how to get around on our own. Our leaders are great. When we arrived downtown, we started walking the streets, already bewildered by the fact that we were really there. It took us a while to take it all in. Bless our leaders hearts for being patient enough to wait for 15 American girls taking selfies every 10 steps. It’s embarrassing the amount of times we ducked from the pigeons overhead thinking it was something out of The Birds while the Greek citizens plowed right on through without a flinch. Our first real stop was the Temple of Zeus. As we walked closer and closer towards this ancient temple, our jaws just dropped. It was amazing how massive this structure really was. The beauty of the sun hitting the temple at the right spot struck us all. Again, we were simply amazed. We walked a little further down streets full of shops and restaurants. We walked up to the site of the Acropolis. Saving the tour for a different time, we did not go inside, but were still amazed at the history and detail of this immense building. One of the greatest places we went to all day was Areopagus Hill next to the Acropolis from which you can see the entire city of Athens. In Greek mythology this hill is best known for where Ares, the god of war, was tried and acquitted for the murder of Poseidon’s son, Alirrothios. Despite the immense wind, the view was absolutely breathtaking. The old buildings, the crammed houses, and the mountains surrounding the entire city were astounding.

The Aegean Sea by The Marina. How could anyone be disappointed in a view like this?

The Aegean Sea by The Marina. How could anyone be disappointed in a view like this?

The one special thing that I will remember and carry with me for the rest of my life is the generosity of the Greek people. Every place we stopped for food, people came out with dishes for us as gifts. They take pride in what they do, always greeting us with a welcome and a smile. Every place we went, there was something given to us out of the kindness of their hearts. America is great, but this is something you don’t always see in American culture. I think that as Americans, we let our pride get in the way and we don’t often think about doing things such as this. The Greek lifestyle isn’t about getting ahead of each other. These people live life the way they want to, not worrying about what’s going to happen next. The generosity of these peoples’ hearts is an inspiration to anyone who longs to live a life full of meaning. Their happiness spreads like wildfire to anyone who is lucky enough to experience it.

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