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Athens RUINS Everything

Athens RUINS Everything

There is no guide stating the greatest way to live my life, but somehow my spontaneity and constant sense of adventure continues to be on my side. I never know where an hour from now will take me or what will come next. I have no set planner or to do list, just the intention of making a difference. This unknown in my life has caused me to replace my fear with curiosity. Through this I’ve gained knowledge I never thought I could obtain and have experienced moments that will change the course of my history, whether it be making the decision to spend an afternoon in the center of town at a Piazza or to book flights to countries I’ve never been to three days prior to my departure. I could search for days as to what I should be doing abroad, but the story I’m creating for myself is so much better.

I have come to misunderstand how my university thinks fourth months in Rome are simply enough. Three weeks have flown by without me even noticing and it scares me to think the others will be the same. I have taken every moment in, but ironically continue to feel like there are never enough hours in the day, although time is of no concern in Italy. I’ve become accustom to hang drying my clothes, eating hours after sunset, and using my hands every time I speak. I may not be fluent in Italian yet or know the name of every street, but I’ve come to recognize changes in me and that in its self is exciting.


Being one with an abundant amount of wanderlust, I find myself trying to fill hours with festivities and enjoy the wonderful city I live in to the best of my ability. I spend a lot of my day studying, but attempt to explore or try something new each day I’m here. This past week I’ve been exposed to the wonderful Karaoke Bar’s downtown study abroad students are crazy about, Cathedrals stuck between apartment buildings for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and what could be the best pasta in the world thanks to our program dinner outing where we were exposed to the life changing pear pasta. Expecting an experience with a sense of religious context, academics, and a whole lot of fun is only natural in Roma. Every moment I have here is life changing.

As if the city isn’t enough, the community I have become a part of here is one others could never compare to. I have met travel companions that are ready to plan and have their bags packed in any moments notice, karaoke partners interested in performing in front of hundreds of strangers dancing and singing to my personal favorite Sweet Caroline, and have been invited to almost every outing whether I’m close to the group going or not. This atmosphere makes it hard for me to leave them in order to explore much more of Europe, but gives me a sense of excitement that I have 250 people to come home to every Sunday or Monday night to share stories with of our great adventures.

Having it been my first weekend without Orientation, I was given the opportunity to plan a trip of my own, leading to something so frightening, yet thrilling. The world was in my hands and I had anywhere to choose from. When realizing this, I literally placed the words “Rome to anywhere” in my browser in hopes that it would lead me somewhere. To my surprise, Athens was my answer. I never expected it to be apart of my abroad experience, but was told once by a professor that every person needs to see the ruins at least once in their life, she couldn’t of been more right.


All you’ve ever heard, all you’ve ever read, and all you’ve ever researched never compares with the real thing. Athens, the Capital of Attica and the Capital of Greece, is one of history’s most influential cities and I was given the opportunity to breathe its air and step foot in history. I may have not been invited to participate in Greek’s most prominent Games of the Olympics or live in a time before monotheistic beliefs, but I did eat the world renowned food that’s simply too good, you can’t help but get two and stepped foot in the ruins that take you to a whole other place.

They say to never expect that you’ll be able to see and do everything you want in a weekend, but I hit every point on the travel guide and then some! Everything the city was known for, I was able to see. I started my days bright and early, even before the sunrise, with nine other study abroad students in my program. We strategized to start at the highest point of the Acropolis and worked our way down throughout the weekend, hitting sites, like the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Heod Atticus Odeon Theatre, Temple of Athena Nike, and Propylaia. All differing in stages of preservation and history, we were given the opportunity to see with our own eyes the world thousands of years ago and the impact it has on today. We spent hours roaming the Acropolis Museum and looking at artifacts in the National Archaeological Museum where art statues from 500 BC still remained. I was in awe over how well things were taken care of, especially because in our culture today, that seems to continuously be forgotten.

Between the culture and educational aspects of our trip, we paid respect at the forecourt of the Parliament to honor The Tomb of the Unknown Solider and witnessed the Pom-Pom Parade, also known as the changing of the guards. In between it all, we ate everything in site, as the food was so delicious, you’re mouth couldn’t help but water. Whether it be the Gyros from street vendors or baklava from an exquisite bakery, you simply couldn’t resist. As if the food and sites weren’t enough, the beauty I was surrounded by was overwhelming. Not only the historical landmarks like that of the National Gardens centered with The Zappeion, but also that of the Greek people who were simply enjoying their nights as typical youth do in Gazi, a neighborhood very similar to Soho. Beauty was all around me. Due to this, I didn’t mind that I walked so much, I could of done a marathon!


The sites are one all individuals should see in their life, and the streets of Plaka, a neighborhood in the center of the city constructed to be a lively and colorful mix of old and new Greece placed around an Orthodox Church, is something all should have the pleasure of walking down. Although this beautiful trip was interrupted with unsafe situations my group had to experience due our titles of being Americans, it taught me to always be alert of my surroundings and stand up for who I am regardless of the setting. The typical independent study abroad experience came full swing as safety was much of a constant concern, but it educated me in a way I never really had, teaching me that regardless of where I am, situations happen and you must always be careful.

Pericles said it best, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”. Athens is so much more than a city of ruins. It’s filled with people of a deep-rooted culture, a complex language and endless amounts of history. It makes you look at the big picture and remind you that you are who you are because of your past. I strive to now live a life not worried about what monuments could someday be made of me, and focus on what monuments I should be sculpting through the lives of others, like that of the Greeks. This lesson is a souvenir I take with me and will bring back when I return to Santorini and Mykonos someday. I learned many lessons on this trip that may now be a part of my history. It was one for the books in good and educational ways, but is something I will always treasure because its part of me.

I look forward to another crazy adventure, where great lesson comes my way. I’m beginning to experience first hand the different dynamics in the world. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Athens ruined everything, it took me back to where I started and reminded me of life’s greatest treasures, regardless of the century.


Αντίο για τώρα.

Gabriella Lunich

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