Greece 2016

Today’s blog comes to you from LEAD Greece participant Martha Shiver, a student at Georgia College & State University. Read below to hear her impressions from the first couple of weeks abroad!

Time and Hidden Treasures

We have been in Greece for a little over a week now and in this time I know that my life has already been changed. It is crazy that we are leaving in a few days, and that we are almost to the halfway mark of this trip. In the short time that we have been in Greece I have discovered many hidden treasures, whether it is a little restaurant with fabulous gyros, a spot on the beach with the best views, or hidden treasures within each person that I have met so far on this trip. I am so excited to see what hidden treasures I have yet to find.

Before coming on this trip I was nervous and excited to experience a new culture, mainly the food. I can be a picky eater, but always am interested in trying new things. I love greek yogurt and gyros back home in the U.S. and have discovered that actual greek yogurt is a little different here. One of the hidden treasures that I have found would be greek yogurt and honey, it’s delicious and nutritious (or at least I’m telling myself that it is). Another treasure that I have found would be the little gyro place on the corner with the black awning. I would tell you the actual name, but I have no idea how to say or spell it. The people that work there are so friendly and willing to help us understand what’s on the menu and give recommendations on what they think we would enjoy the most, which so far there have been no complaints. They have the best gyros, I go to the greek restaurant so often in my hometown that I don’t even have to order any more, they already know what I want. I had high expectations for gyros here and they were definitely above and beyond my expectations. Taziki sauce is my new best friend.

The first day that we arrived I went on a walk with my roommates and got to know them a little more. We found a great little spot on the beach not far from our hotel where we sat on a bench and watched the sunset. We also noticed the local children playing on the beach, snorkeling in the water and their parents relaxing on the beach. I’ve noticed how laid back everything is here, its very different from home. From my experiences on the beach at home it always seemed crowded and chaotic, much like restaurants in America. Everything here is very slow and relaxed, dinner averages around 3 hours, where as at home I usually eat dinner in about 30 minutes to an hour. I have found the laid back feeling and beautiful scenery to be a hidden treasure… though I will admit that driving here does not seem to be laid back or relaxing in the slightest, it’s a bit terrifying.

The days have flown by and have been packed full of adventures, memories, and food. I have found that even though not many of us knew each other before this trip, we have all already become so close. Each person that I have met has a special thing about them, they each have a story. My favorite little thing that we have done so far on this trip would be the 2 minute life stories, so we get to learn a little more background information on everyone and understand their personalities more. I have found that some have contagious smiles and laughs, others have incredible work ethics, and some have overwhelmingly wonderful hearts that fill everyone with joy and the feeling of love. Joy is another hidden treasure that I have found even just today in the most unexpected places. Today I was able to work with some of the refugees and give out supplies to them. I expected somewhat of a sad scene, but it was not. Everyone I met was smiling, they were all so grateful for even the smallest things that we could give them. Even though there was a bit of a language barrier, there was still understanding. My favorite part of the day was making bracelets with the children, it reminded me of being at home with my little cousins. To see the smiles on their faces warmed my heart. I think that treasures can be found anywhere, but are often hidden in plain sight.