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Finally, an update!  I think I’ll start with last Friday.  This was the day of our first hike of the semester, and magically when we woke up all the clouds and rain of the previous week had disappeared, giving the new students their first real taste of Greek sunshine.  Waiting for the bus to take us to Lefkes where we would start our hike, I climbed down to the water and stared into the brilliant blue.  I will never get over how beautiful the water is here.

Water by the bus stop

As the bus took us out of town, up the mountain, and past the thousand year old olive trees, I felt the same excitement I felt last year on our first hike.  I couldn’t wait for the new student to see Lefkes!  They had no idea!

Snow on Naxos; the view from Lefkes

When we got there, John passed out treats (as he always does), and read to us from his journal.  It’s the only remaining entry from the 7 years he spent on the Navajo reservation in his twenties.  All of his other journals he has burned.  He makes us promise never ever to do this.  We start off on our first hike, really a walk (each hike gets longer and longer), stopping to sit on the old byzantine road (everyone has to sit on their own stone), flop down in a field of chamomile (we stuff our pockets full of flowers to make into tea later), and to pick oregano and sage.

Chamomile

Laying in a field of chamomile

We get to a grove of olive trees and John says we can stay or go a little further with him to investigate whether or not flowers are growing in a certain spot yet.  I ran off after him because it’s one of my favorite spots on the island:  a little shelter with a spring that comes out of a wall.  There are no flowers yet but it’s still beautiful.  We make our way back to Lefkes for our first taverna meal with the school.

Spanakopita, food of the gods

It was a perfect day.  That evening I went to the cultural center with some friends to hear my art history teacher play the piano before a movie.  I love Fridays!

Saturday I went to Lefkes again with a fellow student who has rented a car for the whole semester.  Our painting teacher came along too and we spent the morning writing, taking pictures, and painting.  That evening we had a grill/potluck with all the students.  What a feast!  So many talented chefs in this group.  And this semester we have 9 ovens between us, instead of the 2 last semester!

Sunday I went on a walk with a friend, and eventually gave into the call of the water and waded in!  We found some lovely shells and even some hermit crabs scurrying around under the water.  I took the shells home and made a monoprint of a particularly beautiful one.  I really like monoprints but I’m definitely still getting the hang of the press and how much ink to use.  I’m really happy I’m taking printmaking this semester though.  After that it was church and then a guitar and flute concert with a few friends.

Monday was a really busy day– unfortunately my photography teacher is really sick, but another student and I taught the new darkroom students how to develop film.  We also had  Digital photography and baked scones in our shiny new oven!

Yesterday I had printmaking in the morning.  We’re only doing printmaking for these first 3 weeks, then it turns into bookmaking. Because of this we’re moving really really fast through the techniques.  The first week we did monoprints and we’ve already moved on to etching!  I’m having some more problems with this because you can’t just roll more ink on and start over if you mess up, you’re actually engraving a piece of metal.  I’m trying to work on it in stages.  Hopefully in the next few days I can start printing it in its first stage!  Yesterday I also downloaded my Greek Literature homework (first 4 books of the Iliad) onto my ipod and walked and walked and walked around listening to it.  I wound up at the “far beach” and sat there with my toes in the water listening and trying very very hard to concentrate on the book.  I actually understand far more than I thought I would!  Listening to the Iliad in Greece is an amazing feeling.  I made it back in time for art history.  For the first time Jeffrey is doing an overview of…well pretty much all of art history instead of concentrating on Greek art only.  Pretty cool!  Yesterday was the first day of slides; we covered cave paintings and very small stone sculptures.  For the first time, art history is not a boring lecture in a dark room, it’s actually fascinating to me!  You don’t need a 3 hour college class, you just need 1 hour of  Jeffrey!  I absolutely love it.  I’ll have to do a separate post on my classes….

Today  I started working on a website that I need to create for VCU.  We also had a view camera class because Liz is still sick and we couldn’t have photo history.  After that was digital and Greek Lit!  Now I’m here, trying to get this out so I can go to bed! 🙂

I’ll try to update soon, but for now, kali nikta!

Wild Paros

The wind today is supposed to get up to a 9 or 10 on a 12 point scale, 12 being a hurricane!  I was pushed off the sidewalk by the wind when I went down to the dock to take this photo.  It’s hard to see here, but the water is usually extremely calm and flat.  There are never any waves.  Today the wind is pushing the water out of the ocean and onto the roads!  The enormous, extremely sturdy ferries are even cancelled.  Guess I’ll be here for awhile!

We started classes today.  A new class I’m taking this semester is printmaking.  We started with monoprints, which require a very physical, messy, loose process.  You have to cut the zinc plate in half by scraping a line into it with a sharp metal tool until you are able to snap it in half.  Then you file away the edges to a 45 degree angle and round off the edges.  After polishing it, you roll ink onto the plate and use your fingers, rags, cardboard, brushes, and the wrong end of the brush to make a quick drawing in the ink.  You then put a piece of cotton paper soaked in water on top of the ink covered plate between pieces of scrap paper and felt, and run it through the press!  Each drawing you can only use once, but you can use the plate over and over again.  When we learn how to etch we will be able to spend more time on each drawing and will be able to print it over and over again.  I  can’t wait!

I’ll try to get a photo of my first print up later.  Until then, I’m trying to make a plan for this semester so that I will be able to graduate on time… wish me luck!

More about Spain to come, but for now,  here are a few thoughts:

-I am back on Paros!  It feels like I have never left but at the same time I am constantly rediscovering what I love about this place….

-It is so cold!  And windy!  I hope the wind isn’t so strong it keeps the new students from getting here!

-The returning students got here yesterday, for the most part, so we had a couple extra days to get settled in, have coffee together, set up the school, have our first taverna meal, go grocery shopping, and get all of our giddiness out so that tomorrow we can focus all our attention on making the new students feel very welcome!

-I totally forgot how tired I was once I felt that salty spray on the morning ferry to Paros.  It feels wonderful!

-I am planning on taking way too many classes, once again… (we’ll see what happens).  Hopefully I can take a lot of classes while still doing something substantial in each.

-Dinner tonight at Albatross: little fried fishes, big sundried fishes, cabbage salad, fried zucchini balls, eggplant, saganaki, tzatziki, fish roe spread, toasted bread, mushrooms, squid pasta, little donuts, and probably some more things that I’m forgetting.  Greece is good for making me eat my veggies. 🙂

-I’m off to a carnival party at Mikro cafe, our favorite coffee place where we also have trivia night every thursday.  Tomorrow: new students! I’m very excited to meet them, especially after meeting so many wonderful ladies last semester!

…more to come soon….

HERE!

Well, here I am, in Madrid!  I’m writing this now but will post later when it won’t cost me 5 euros for a few minutes of internet.  Last night I was scared that I wouldn’t even make it here!  I haven’t bought a return ticket for the end of the semester yet so to the lovely people at Dulles Airport it looks  like I’m pretty much moving to Spain… without a visa.  You’re technically not allowed to stay in the EU for over 90 days without a one.  However, the fine is the same amount of money as the visa, so it’s usually worth it to risk getting caught.  Eventually after giving them my flight info to go to Greece and promising them that it would be my fault and not theirs if I got in trouble, they reluctantly let me go.  Crisis averted!

My flight from Dulles got in at 7:00 this morning when the sun was just beginning to rise.  When I boarded the flight nearly 8 hours earlier it was still light out.  It was extremely disorienting to be served dinner at 8 pm and then breakfast only 4 hours later!  I sat next to a very nice Spanish woman who was visiting family in DC.  She told me that she liked my ring and showed me that she had one similar to it… but didn’t really make an effort to hide her shock when she found out I’m only 20!  I assured her that I was indeed taking advantage of my 20’s and tried to take a nap.  I had an aisle seat so I couldn’t do the old sleep-on-the-window trick…bummer.  I tried to myself comfy in the slump-all-the-way-down-and-put-your-knees up-on-the-seat-in-front-of-you kind of way that is really only comfy for a few minutes, so that was a fail.  I got about 2 hours of sleep here and there so I was still really tired when we landed.

I’m flying Ryanair to my next stop (Alicante) and then I’ll take the bus to Murcia.  I’ve heard Ryanair has really strict baggage policies but even though I had an extra bag AND my first bag was overweight, they just charged me for the extra bag, saving me a ton of money!  Well, now I know how Ryanair makes their money, and it’s not off the 7 euro tickets.  It’s the overweight fee, and the extra bag fee, and the using a credit card online fee, and the processing fee…… oh well, it’s still worth it!

I hear it’s about 70 degrees in Murcia right now- definitely something to get excited about.  I hope I don’t crash right when I get there!  Maybe Annette will let me take a nap before we do anything. 🙂   I hear this weekend we might be going to Grenada which is really cool because I’ll get to see a little more of Spain than the city where Annette lives, but I’ll also be in Murcia long enough to get a feel for it.

Next stop— in just a few short hours—– Alicante!

 

I can’t believe it’s already February!  I’m leaving to go back to the Aegean Center on Monday.  Well, kind of.  On Monday I’m heading to Murcia, Spain, to visit one of my all time favorite people, Annette.  She’s been my roommate at VCU for the past two years, and we both decided to study abroad this year.   We both left in August but she is doing a whole year and I’m doing two 3-month semesters.   Jealous!  Anyway I’m really excited to visit her in Spain and get an insider’s tour.  I’m hoping for lots of tapas, exploring, and talking about boys. The next Thursday begins my 3-day trek to Paros.  🙂

Last time I left for the semester I started packing 2 weeks in advance so I could make sure everything in my carry-on sized suitcase was worth its weight in gold.  That was a good idea at the time because I had to drag that suitcase all over Italy, but this time around I can afford a bigger bag!  With the clock ticking, it’s time to start packing.  This time, I’m bringing more books, letter writing supplies, and more hiking clothes! (Annette, I’m still working on the samoas!)

I’m hoping this will be a good way to share a quick thought or picture with my family and friends while I’m halfway across the world.  Wish me luck!