Senior, Interior Design
Summer I, Two weeks
Western Roots of Interior Design – Greek Influence
Upon returning from my study abroad trip in Greece I can safely say that the experience helped me grow personally, academically, as well as professionally. I believe that largest growth has been personal because I feel that I have a new outlook and perspective on how I go about doing everyday things. I have a new found sense of independence and no longer have a hesitation of saying yes to different situations that would put me outside of my comfort zone. I immersed myself into a situation that where nothing was familiar and that experience has left me curious to learn more and see more. I can see that I am also more confident because I know that I am capable of so much more after leaving the U.S. for the first time and being away from what is familiar. As for academically I can say that I am more knowledgeable about the roots and the history of the career I have been studying and preparing years for. Lastly, some competencies that I have improved on that would help me in the work force is responsibility, reliability, communication, and professionalism overall. While in Greece it was essentially my job to look after myself and make sure I knew where I was, where I was going, and what time I had to be somewhere. I had to communicate with multiple parties such as my professor, tour guides, hotel staff, restaurant staff, students on the trip as well etc. Lastly, it was important to be a good representative for my country while respecting the country and culture I was a guest to for a period of time.
A cultural experience to reflect on during my time in Greece was having the opportunity to ride donkeys while visiting Santorini. I would have never thought that while I was there I would have the chance to participate in something that is so traditional to Greek culture. Our entire group walked through the city by ourselves without our professor to the top of the stair case that winded down the mountainside where we met the men who were handling the animals. After paying 5 euros each we were saddled up onto a donkey and started making the decent down. The experience was scary at first because it is so steep and I had to focus on not falling off, but once I got the hang of it I was able to appreciate the scenery, which was absolutely breathtaking. The ride up was much easier and overall the experience was a lot of fun and something I would recommend doing to anyone who visits Santorini.
The Greece trip was unique in the sense that we had the opportunity to visit many cities that were all very different from one another, so our living environment changed multiple times. Each location we traveled to we stayed in hotels, which were all very nice, however they all had their unique characteristics. For example Hotel Byron was integrated into the buildings in the heart of Athens while the hotel in Santorini was very family oriented, had traditional Greek furniture and was completely open to a central courtyard with a pool in the middle. Another example is our hotel in Kalamata looked like a resort with a large pool and outdoor bar/dining area, gated entrance, modern lobby, and beach side access.
A trip that we took outside of the study abroad program was during our free day we went to the small island Hydra. The best comparison is to Mackinac Island because it is relatively small and no cars are allowed on the island. We were dropped off at the port to board a large boat and traveled two hours to get to Hydra. When we got there it looked like a small boating town because the marina was full and there were many restaurants and boutiques that overlooked the Sea and lined the small alley ways. Our main goal was to spend the day on the beach so we asked the locals what the best way to get there was. The two options were to walk along the shoreline, which would take about 45 minutes to an hour or to take a water taxi that would take 7 minutes. We decided to walk on the way there to have the opportunity to see as much as the island as possible and have the chance to appreciate the scenery, which ended up being worthwhile. We walked through the town and got to see the difference in building construction of homes in comparison to the large city of Athens and it was quaint and rural. When we made it to the beach we lay out in the sun and a few of us went swimming and after a few hours we decided to take the water taxi back. Afterwards we walked around the town and browsed through little shops before we made our way to a restaurant. Our boat ended up being late and we didn’t get back to Athens until midnight, but it was a great experience to be able to travel on our own as a group and going to Hydra was a great way to spend our free day as an extra excursion. I would highly recommend it to someone just visiting the country, or for the students to do the same next year.
Daily life in Greece is different to that of the U.S. in many different ways, but the one that stood out the most to me was the relaxed and easy going way they go about their business. For example, people aren’t in a rush to go to eat or get to work in the morning, which I respected very much. On our way to dinner we would slowly walk and browse at shops before deciding on a restaurant whereas in the U.S. you would plan a place to go eat and go straight there once you make up your mind. Even at the restaurants people take their time and enjoy themselves. People also eat at a later time than what is considered normal in the U.S. While we were walking around a suburb of Athens after going to the highest point of the city and enjoying a snack at the café, we noticed restaurants were full at 10-11 o’clock. Another thing that I noticed is that no matter what time of day people are always outside. The streets are crowded with not only tourists, but locals as well.