by Renee Borage
To my knowledge so far in life and to my ardent hope as well, the world has more to offer than you or I or anyone else can possibly imagine. Close your eyes and picture France. Do you see the Eiffel Tower, charming cafés, and fashionable Parisians? If you do, I doubt you’re alone. Now picture Alaska. Do you see snow-topped mountains, log cabins, whales, and moose? It’s only logical. Now picture Greece. What do you see? Before I came to Greece, the first images to come to mind would have been the Parthenon, white houses with blue roofs, and of course the clear blue water. However, having lived here eleven weeks now, I can tell you that Greece is not all ancient temples and whitewashed houses. They’re a part of it, just like the Eiffel Tower is a part of France and mountains are a part of Alaska, but there’s so much more to Greece than you might first imagine.
Two weeks ago I got to see both sides of the picture. First, my mom came to visit and we went on a short weekend trip to Santorini. It was just as I had imagined, incredibly beautiful, a very popular spot for tourists, and very classic Greece (to my eyes, anyway). When the trip was over, I joined the rest of my classmates in Northern Greece for our final field trip of the semester. We began in Thessaloniki and traveled to Meteora, Volos, Makrinitsa, and Mount Pelion. The water is still blue in the North, of course, and the food and language are the same, but the landscape is so distinctly different, you almost feel like you’ve left the country. In Meteora (which means “suspended rocks”), enormous, majestic rock pillars have been home to twenty monasteries over the years though only six remain today. And Makrinitsa is a little mountain village with a view looking down on Volos. There are ski resorts nearby (yes, it snows in Greece) and the dark-roofed houses, stone streets, and pine trees seem to mimic Switzerland or Austria. It’s something I never would have imagined in Greece and it reminded me that there’s so much more to a place than the images you constantly see in books and calendars.
I only wish I had more time in Europe. Time to discover new places, time to get lost and then find myself again, time to learn more, see more, eat more! I’m excited to come home, but I know that within a few weeks, I’ll be missing Aigina. I don’t know if I’ll ever again have the experience of living on an island, with that perfect blue water always nearby. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I get to eat a delicious, authentically Greek gyro or moussaka again. And I don’t know how long it will be before I’m able to travel back to my now beloved Europe. It’s absurd, almost inconceivable to picture myself leaving Greece in just a week, even if I know it’s the inevitable reality. Someday though, I know I’ll be across the Atlantic again. It’s only a matter of time. Well, time and luck and a lot of money.