Best Week Ever?

February 22, 2009

Ah finally, some time to breathe.  I thought having a routine would make it easier for me to do ‘routine-ish’ stuff like update this blog, exercise (!!), eat more healthy, etc etc.  No such luck.

Monday began our second week of classes and they turned out to be no more difficult than my immediate first impression.  Frankly, the subject matter of every single one of my classes is quite interesting, it is just the glacial pace at which we cover the material that bores me to tears.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I have Ancient Greece and the Modern Greek Nation State back to back, with the same professor.  I am done quite a bit earlier than most of my fellow students so I usually come home right at 2, make myself a gigantic lunch (oh how I love having my own kitchen) and if I’m feeling ambitious (which I was this week!) I go for a run.  Except on Fridays when I use those glorious (enforced by Greek law) quiet hours from 3-5 to NAP.   My Tuesdays and Thursdays are quite a bit busier.  I catch the free bus ACT provides for us at 10:30 and have Greek right away from 11-1 (excuse me, 11-13!!).  I have an hour break for lunch/pretending to do homework and then at 14 I have Art Appreciation.  I am obsessed with this class.  The professor is not only knowledgable and obviously passionate about the school/her job, but she is hilarious.  Lots of times she will just put up a painting and ask us what we think.  The Greek students are entertainingly vocal in class, constantly shouting out answers (even when there are no questions).  Especially compared with the reverence many professors are viewed with in American classrooms, the Greek students questioning of their professors stands out quite a bit.  After Art I head the the Politics of the European Union.  It is another one of the interesting-but-slow classes.  I then make my way up over the overpass connecting ACT to the rest of Anatolia College (from which there is a breathtaking view of the city, the water and the surrounding hillside on a clear day) to volleyball.  It is the equivalent of intramurals at BC and there are only about four of us that actually played (with any success) in high school, but man is it fun.  I think I had blocked out of my mind how much I missed team sports to avoid dealing with it and now I finally realized what a big part of my happiness it was in high school.  Usually after vollyeball I go down to the gym with four or five guys (of the whopping ten on the program) to do weights.  Though this routine is healthy it still is not counteracting enough of the fried zucchini, oh well.  Then I have an hour or so of free time until the free bus leaves for our residencies again and usually I spend it doing homework or rereading the Winds of War.  (this is like what, the 8th time?  I still manage to find new things in it though)

This routine of course is already being disrupted by random opportunities.  Last Tuesday it was my new friend Deidre’s 21st birthday.  The Greeks,  of course, did not quite understand the significance of this age as much as us Americans did- but we made it special for her anyways.  We walked up to our favorite street of tavernas with 30 people and I am proud to say I was the chief negotiator that managed to get us all you can eat/drink for five euros per person.  Wow eh?  The staff was so entertained by us that they brought out champagne for the birthday girl and played happy birthday at least four or five times.  After everyones’ wine glasses had been filled a few times the dancing began.  At one point every person in the outdoor seating area was on his or her chair swaying and clapping to the music.  There wasn’t a single person who didn’t have a good time.

Wednesday night passed quietly (I wonder if I will ever have more than one day to recover here?) in anticipation of Thursday night.  Tsikno Pempti (or Burnt/BBQ Thursday) is a wild carnival celebration that marks 11 days before the beginning of the Greek Lent.  Traditionally people dress up in masquerade-like costumes, though the young people in Thessaloniki take this to an extreme.  The costume shop we visited (as we skipped vollyeball) was PACKED with people buying wigs, fake teeth, gloves, whole costumes (I saw several teletubbies?! haha), hats, etc.  That night we met the entire study abroad group at an old mill converted into a sort of mini-village called Mylos.  It was actually the home of the concert venue where we saw Ja Rule that first weekend.  There were bar stands and bonfires oustide the restaurants and clubs but of course, it had to be the coldest night of the year in Thessaloniki.  It was far too windy to stay outside so we  took refuge inside the club and as usual we were the first ones out on the dance floor.  Around 23 a Greek Reggae band came out to play (I managed to be in the front row for this, my ears are still ringing) followed by a group of Brazilian dancers and eventually a gigantic percussion troupe came out onto the dance floor and played six inches from me for what felt like hours.  It was unbelievable!  The color and the excitement was intoxicating and although I didn’t get my traditional ‘burnt meat’ (since meat is technically not allowed during Lent, it is passed out on the streets all week leading up to it) I definitely enjoyed what Thessaloniki had to offer on this fun holiday.

Friday classes were more painful than usual and I went into the evening determined to take it easy.  Of course that never happens.  A group of us went to our favorite taverna (it’s so nice to be a REGULAR somewhere) and of course ended up eating, drinking and dancing far more than we anticipated.  In all the restaurants here occasionally someone selling something will walk around to the tables trying to tempt diners into making purchases.  Usually in tavernas flowers (and bootleg dvds for some reason) are the popular selling items.  The man selling flowers gave each of us girls one saying they were ‘from God’ and I actually got an extra from a waiter who always gushes over me whenever we come to this place.  (He looks about 14) Haha.  One of the boys I was with also managed to run into a Greek man he became friends with the last time we were there.  This guy is probably about 55, always drunk and claims to be a famous television host in Greece, so naturally we took pictures with him and filmed him when he got up with the guitarist to sing.

Yesterday my art teacher (who is the faculty sponsor of the field trip club) lead a trip to the archeological museum here in Thessaloniki.  12 was a bit early for my body but my brain needed the exercise so I dragged myself out of bed and rolled downtown.  The museum was really well done.  It houses some of the oldest material from this region, but more importantly the museum was designed thematically (items having to do with politics, death, cooking, women, etc all split up) which was an interesting alternative from the typical chronological set up.  Macedonia really does have a very different history than the ‘Greece’ many people think of and I am enjoying learning more about it.  (Though I can’t wait to get to Athens to see the acropolis again,  I won’t lie)

Today I will have to pick up the pieces from this week… my room looks like a crazy person came home Friday night and just threw everything she owned on the floor.  Oh wait, that was me.  I also have a bit of homework (!! SHOCKING !!) to do to make up for the two classes my professor cancelled tomorrow.  A reading and a 300 word response for each, ahaha.

Anyways I hope all of you are well and I will post pictures from the museum, tskino pempti and my other adventures soon!  I am going to MILAN next weekend so that should be an even more interesting post!



One Response to “Best Week Ever?”

  1. Michelle said

    I just wanted to let u know how much i enjoyed reading y our blog on thessaloniki. i used to live there a couple of years ago, at the same time of year you and your frinds visited, and it brought back so many memmories for me :-), especially as i used to work in Mylos – i had such a fabulous time there, and im going back in feb 2010 for the carnival! Thankyou again for sharing your experiences with me.
    Michelle x

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