Life in Athens is slowly improving each day that I am here, the weather is starting to change and I hope within the next couple days, I can say that summer weather has officially arrived. When I come in the summer, I am used to only beautiful days and not a cloud in the sky, being here in the spring made me realize that Greece actually does have a different climate other then being extremely hot. It has rained a lot here, but after a nice hard downfall of rain, the weather automatically fixes and then the sun comes out and brightens up all the beautiful scenery. There has been so much that is going on in my life now that it seems that I don’t really even know where to start on what I have been doing, so first off I will start on how my Easter Break was spent.
Easter Break was something that I had been looking forward to since I found out that we where given two weeks to leave and go explore. During my two weeks, I chose to go down to my xorio (village), relax, spend time with my family and friends and practice my Greek. I decided to bring my roommate Janelle with me down to my village. I was so excited for her to come down to Finikounda, I could not wait for her to see a place that is so dear to me and completes me as a person. As soon as we arrived, I could tell she loved it, her camera had not stopped snapping for the first couple hours. I walked her around my town, we went to the thallassa (beach), introduced her to all my relatives and after three days passed by she had become a local and everyone knew who she was. Since the first week of break was Holy Week, there where so many people preparing for Easter and I was able to take part in all the traditions and preparations that where taking place. On Good Friday, Janelle and I went to church with my Yiayia (grandma), since this was the funeral procession for Jesus, after church there was a procession that was held around the streets of my town. It is a custom in Greece during Easter that all the kids throw fireworks during the church services. When we were walking around with the procession, there were so many of them thrown that you could not hear the church service and it looked as if I entered a war zone. Walking down the little streets of my town during the procession was really comforting. Passing people’s balconies and window fronts, they where all standing there with their candles lit paying their respects. It was very nice to see my town come together and see everyone act as a family. In the wintertime my town Finikounda/Lahanada has a population of about 300 people, and in the summer time it jumps to about 3,000 with all the tourists as well. As you can imagine in the summer, they are all very busy and you really never get to see them enjoying their life’s or even being with their families. I guess you could say that seeing my town for Easter was something that I will never forget and I really was able to hang out with all the townies and get to know everyone. My daily life consisted of eating, coffee, playing cards and enjoying the little things in life, which is really hard to do sometimes. After Easter was over, that Monday, some of my friends came from Deree to visit and stay with me for a couple days. They really enjoyed their time and I was so happy to have them and show them a part of who I am, our vacation slowly came to an end and it was time for us to say our goodbyes and head back to Agia Paraskevi.
After our long break, we were all reunited again and it was great to see everyone and hear how they all spent their breaks. It was time for us to get everything prepared and get ready to start school that Monday. It took a while to get back into the swing of school but on Monday morning when I walked into my 10’oclock math class, I knew it was time to buckle down and finish off the semester right. It was hard for me to concentrate that week because I could not wait for the weekend to come. Deree’s outdoor recreation club was hosting a field trip to The Great Samarian Gorge in Crete, so a couple of the study abroad students and I decided to go along to this great experience. We took the boat from Pireaus at 9:00 p.m. and arrived in Hania (Crete) the next morning at 6:00 a.m., and from there we took a bus to the Gorge and started our hiking journey. The hike was a total of 13 kilometers, it was really steep and was semi difficult to walk through because of all the little rocks. It took us a total of 7 hours to walk and at the end of the Gorge there was a boat waiting for us to take us back to Hania. The scenery was beautiful, and as you where walking through the Gorge there where random little streams of water everywhere, the water was so crystal blue it looked as if you where some sort of tropical climate. That night, we went back, drank a frappe and decided to see what kind of nightlife Crete had to offer us, to our surprise there Cretan hospitality was great and we fit right in and had a great time. Sunday morning arrived and it was time to pack our bags and leave, I wish I could have spent more time in Hania because it was very beautiful and the weather was great. This trip was also a great experience because their where students that came along with us from Deree and this gave me an opportunity to make some new friends an go outside the box.
With only 4 weeks left in the semester, I refuse to look in my datebook and count down the days that I will have to say good bye to my new friends, school, Agia Paraskevi and most of all the great memories that I am leaving behind. Until next time, I am going to make the most out of these last couple weeks and really try to get every last bit out of this experience as I can! I would also like to inform you all that my Greek is getting really better here, not only can I tell that I have made progress, but my friends and family are also telling me this as well, and this makes me extremely happy!
The video posted above is outside of the church in Finikounda, at 12:00 a.m. everyone sings Xristos Anesti which means that Christ has risen, it was hard to even hear the church service, but between the singing, church bells and fireworks, it was so beautiful to see these traditions.
Until Next Time—
Κατερινα Βασιλικη Γκροσσο