Let’s talk about the most exciting part of any study abroad program: personal travel! One of the aspects of the JSB program that makes it so special is the 3-day weekends where we are free to go all over Europe. I personally have never organized any kind of travel on my own and figuring out our weekend trips has been a huge learning experience.
A small group of us decided our first attempt would be a trip to Greece this past weekend, and boy were we in for an experience.
The single most important thing I learned from our weekend trip is this: DON’T OVERDO IT!
12 weeks may seem like a long time, but once we got here we very quickly realized how little time it actually is and instantly began trying to cram as much into every day as possible. I soon learned that trying to do too much in too short a time causes unneeded anxiety and it’s better to just give yourself more time to enjoy fewer things.
When we decided we were going to Greece we thought we could lump Athens and Santorini into one weekend easily. This was definitely a mistake!
Athens went just about as smoothly as it possibly could, our flight was fine, transportation around the city was easy and cheap, and our Airbnb was exactly what we expected. We strolled the bustling flea market of Monastiraki (they have the best strawberries I have ever tasted in my life!), walked the narrow winding roads of Plaka, toured the Acropolis, and watched the sunset over Athens from the perfect spot atop the Hill of the Muses. It was the perfect day and I was feeling pretty proud of us for organizing it all ourselves.
The next morning we woke up at an unholy hour to make our way to the port, we were catching an early ferry to Santorini, and it was just all downhill from there. I very quickly realized that I did not do nearly enough research beforehand, a lot of the information I relied on was incorrect or I had misinterpreted and all the mistakes and obstacles added up to a long, stressful journey to Santorini (including a 2 and a half hour late ferry, lack of public transportation, and a hidden Airbnb). Once we got to where we were going (beautiful Kamari Beach), we had a blast, but no time to do most of the activities we had planned.
If I could go back I absolutely wouldn’t change anything because I got a great learning experience out of it while seeing two of the most beautiful places in the world with some great friends. However, in the future I will definitely do more research as well as allot more time for a few things, rather than cram too much in to too little time.
In the 3 weeks I have spent abroad I have learned to laugh at my mistakes and welcome all the obstacles thrown my way, they may lead to the best adventures and even better life lessons.
Yamas! (Cheers, or ‘to your health’ in Greek!),