By Maria Bellardino, FFE 2014-15
Studying abroad in Italy gives students many opportunities to travel. Florence is beautiful, but sometimes it’s nice to get away for a couple days. Italy is close to many other countries and the easy ways to get there include trains, budget airlines, and even by boat. It is nice to be able to travel to a different country like France or Germany for the weekend or travel for an extended period of time like the refreshing ten day fall break Marist gives students. My destination of choice for fall break was Greece. I worked my way from Italy down to Corfu, through to Athens, and ending in Santorini.
My first stop was Corfu; it is a beautiful island with mountains and beaches. I took a twenty-hour cruise to the island, which was not as enjoyable as it sounds – I would recommend taking an airplane to Greece. There were plenty of activities to keep us busy like sea kayaking, cliff jumping, riding All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) through the mountains, going into the quiet town, or just lounging on the beach. The most popular activity seemed to be ATV-ing. We drove up mountains to the most beautiful viewpoint where you can see most of the island and take a lot of great pictures for friends and family back home. We drove around to several of these look out points each a little more breath taking than the last. Our last destination was a small beach that had only one other person on it. The sand was very soft and the water was a deep blue that you could see straight through. Corfu was definitely a place to be really lazy and lounge on the beach. It is a great place to just sit, relax and collect your thoughts. Going to Marist Italy comes along with the responsibility of being an adult, taking classes and getting all of the work done to the best of you ability in a timely manner. Taking a break is a good way to step back from the responsibility and enjoy free time with new friends or by yourself.
The next place I went was Athens. Athens is a big, bustling city and home to the Athenian Acropolis. This part of the trip is great if you know or are interested in Greek Mythology. I assumed that this part of the trip would not be fun and it would be all about trying to cram a bunch of new information into my brain as possible, but I was very wrong. All of the information the tour guide was sharing with us was very interesting. I wasn’t being forced to memorize it and then take a test on it; I was just listening and enjoying what I was learning. For example, when we went to the Acropolis I learned that the word acropolis literally means high city. Acros in Greek means higher or upper and polis means city. This new knowledge came in handy when I had to write a paper for my First Year Seminar class. Taking trips to places like this helps you learn new things without feeling stuck in a classroom and learning.
My final destination before heading back to Italy was Santorini, Greece. This is the place you see on all the post cards with mountainside towns that house the white buildings with blue tops. It is what I imagine paradise to be. I took almost a million pictures of these buildings looking over the ocean with the sunset behind them. We compared this part of Greece to the place that a character in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants goes on vacation. It is so beautiful that you feel like you are in a movie because it just feels so unreal. This is the nicest place to show family and friends pictures of, even though the pictures don’t do it justice. It is more beautiful than anyone can imagine. One can only fully understand the beauty by taking a trip there.
When I was standing on the top of the little town in Santorini, Greece, I had a realization of how lucky I am to be able to study abroad and get to travel around Europe. Most students who come here get to travel more than most people will ever travel in their life. Studying abroad is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am so thankful that Marist gave me the chance to have these experiences.