WE HAVE ARRIVED IN ATHENS!
Last week saw us spending a final few days in Heraklion catching up on assignments, ISPs and the end of our lessons before we boarded the night ferry for Athens. We arrived in the Greek capital at dawn on Friday morning, tired, but ready for the last leg of our European adventure. After our arrival at the hotel, we lingered over an early breakfast before we made our way up to the rooftop pool. There we basked in the hot Athens sun, relaxing on lounge chairs. Later that morning, after we caught some shut-eye, Theoni, our tour guide escorted us to the iconic Acropolis. Our classical civilizations students were able to make some more connections between what they had learned in class these past few weeks and the ruins of the ancient citadel. The historical significance of the Acropolis and the Parthenon left all of us marvelling at how the Greek temples were erected so high up on a hill. Greek mythology and ancient Greek history melded into one long and fascinating story for us. For some, the debate about the Parthenon marbles was enlivened again as students speculated about the future of the Greek treasures and whether or not they belonged back permanently in Athens.
The weekend was quiet as students spread out on the rooftop and by the pool, laptops on hand, to complete assignments and prepare for exams. Teachers held make-up classes, review sessions and offered tutoring for those who wanted it. On Sunday, several of us were enticed to break away from studying and take a hike up to Mount Lycabettus. It was a long walk uphill from our hotel to the site and an even steeper climb upwards to the summit but well worth the trek as the panoramic view of Athens and the outskirts was truly amazing. Photography students added to their already burgeoning portfolio of scenic landscapes. We all agreed that skipping the funicular ride on the way up had been the right decision.
On Monday, our guide escorted students on the metro to visit three more sites in Athens: the Agora, the Temple of Zeus and Kerameikos. A Socratic approach seemed to promote a deeper understanding among students. After experiencing the archeological sites and hearing more facts about the ancient ruins we began to weave our way through the narrow streets and colourful alleys of the oldest section of Athens, the Plaka. It was agreed that we would all return for some souvenir shopping following exams.
Thanksgiving Monday, although not a holiday for Greeks, was a day we still all wanted to celebrate. Calls from family back home reminded us of just how important our Thanksgiving is to Canadians. Instead of lamenting this important day, the chefs at our hotel were asked if they could find a turkey and prepare it for us. It was an unusual request but they were more than happy to take on the challenge. By Monday, two smaller turkeys were finally located in time for our Greek chefs to roast and present these proudly to us at dinner making our Canadian Thanksgiving in Athens a unique memory.
As students study well into the night for their final exams, our time here in Greece is drawing to an end. It has been an incredible journey and one that I hope will be etched in their minds for years to come. Our final exam is Wednesday and we will celebrate our last day after exams with a banquet on the rooftop where several of the magnificent sites visited throughout the past week will be lit up and visible in the distance.
Wishing all our students the best of luck on their upcoming exams.
Head of School