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In Greece: Learning is seldom this much fun March 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Testimonials.

Athens, Greece is one of the oldest cities in the world with a recorded history that dates back at least 3,000 years. Many refer to Greece as the cradle of civilization. For visitors, like Sally Hayes of Mt. Pleasant, a trip to the Mediterranean country was an unforgettable and inspirational experience.

Hayes, a freshman at Monmouth College with a triple major in classics, history, and philosophy, was one of 24 members of the Illinois college to visit Greece in early January. 

“I found the trip to Greece incredibly educational and fun,” she said. “Athens was a great place to see, such a connection of times, where the old world is completely embraced by the modern world.”

Hayes traveled with faculty members Cheryl Meeker and Tom Sienkewicz and 21 other students on what was dubbed an “immersion learning course.” The group visited the Acropolis, the Athenian Agora, the National Museum in Athens, as well as ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Delphi, and the temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina.

“I think the trip gave me a good starting block for my education,” she confided. As a result of the trip, the college recently notified her that she had successfully completed the requirements for a classics minor.

After a 10-hour flight onboard one of the new, double-decker Airbus planes, Hayes and her group settled into their hotel in downtown Athens. Even though the extended urban area has a population of over 3 million people, it still maintains its historical integrity.
“Everywhere you looked it was just littered with columns and pieces of marble,” she said. “We could even see the Parthenon from our hotel balcony.”

Despite its ancient roots, Athens’ location between the sea and the mountains causes it to have air-quality problems much like those experienced in Los Angeles. “It’s crowded yet really clean,” Hayes said. “But it’s smoggy because of all the people and cars.”

To help control some of the pollution, she said many people walk, ride motorbikes, or drive one of the new Smart cars that currently are only available in Europe. The two-seat vehicle is very small and energy efficient, Hayes said, and can easily maneuver in the narrow city streets.

In the city they often rode the Metro train, for long trips they rode in a tour bus. “It was like a Greyhound,” she noted, “but it was scary taking that bus down through the streets, especially in the mountains. In some parts I thought the bus was going to tip over.” The highlight of the trip, she said, “was the day we spent at Delphi, just because its so historical… so many artifacts and pretty much untouched.”

Hayes said the language wasn’t much of a problem since most people spoke English. Signs were written in Greek, French and English. The food, of course, was phenomenal. “The food was fabulous,” she said. “When I came back to the school cafeteria I realized how much I had enjoyed the food.” Some of her favorites were a baked casserole dish called Moussaka that’s traditionally made with eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, and beef or lamb; a flaky pastry dessert called Baklava, and anything with seafood. “The seafood is really good because you’re so close to the sea.”

An unexpected experience during the trip was when the group spent the afternoon watching the changing of the guard at the Parliament building. 

Read the article > Sally Hayes in Greece: Learning is seldom this much fun

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