Posted by: Joseph J. Skarzenski | July 6, 2009

And so it begins…

Students at the Zappeion in Athens, Greece

Students at the Zappeion in Athens, Greece

It was a little past 10:00 AM when students arrived at the Venizelos Airport in Athens, Greece. Eager to begin their two to six week journey in the country, the group took the bus to the city and received their rooming assignments. After getting settled in to the Yperidou, Mitropoleos, and Pendelis apartment buildings, the JTG group was off to their first of many lunches at George’s taverna. Everyone enjoyed the fantastic home-style cooking; a meal that was very satisfying after the long plane trip.

Next on our agenda for our first day was orientation at the University of Indianapolis campus. Students received their official JTG t-shirts and a packet that included program rules, tips, and other helpful registration. We were given brief introductions from some of the campus’s administration, including Dina Skias (Director of Student Affairs), Tom Mazarakis (Director of University Housing) and Dr. Peter Wilkins (Vice Chancellor of Institutional Achievement). Our program director, Dr. James Dimitriou, also spoke, giving us a brief synopsis about the class (Greek Culture and Language) we will all be taking first session.

Students in Yperidou 2B enjoying gyros in Mitropoleos square

Students in Yperidou 2B enjoying gyros in Mitropoleos square

After orientation students returned to their apartments for a few hours. Some took brief naps due to the exhaustion incurred by the plane ride. Other walked around the local area where they shopped for their apartments and learned first hand about the magical, authentic gyro sandwiches of Monastiraki.

Enjoying the view from the Uindy campus rooftop

Enjoying the view from the Uindy campus rooftop

By 7:00 pm, we were off again for a night out in downtown Athens. Meeting at the university entrance, Dr. Dimitriou continued the earlier conversation on Greek culture that began at orientation. We had the distinct pleasure of going to the rooftop of the university, where we continued to discuss Greek culture while enjoying a picture-perfect view of the Acropolis.

Following our second visit to the university campus, Dr. Dimitriou took us on a great tour of downtown Athens by foot. We began in Syntagma square, where we started by visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

Listening to an explanation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Listening to an explanation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Students were given a background on the Evzone soldiers and the significance of their presence at the tomb. From Syntagma we continued our walk to the Zappeion Center. From there we walked to the the original 1896 Olympic Stadium. Many of the students took photos of the beautiful site under the full moon.

At that point, we began our walk back to Syntagma. We concluded the evening with an informal dinner in Monastiraki. Many headed to bed early to prepare for a very busy second day. Tomorrow morning, we begin our first day of class. We also have a welcoming reception dinner at the Uindy cultural centre. With a view of the Roman agora at sunset, it will surely be a memorable event to formally begin the program.

Below are photos of today’s program. Please click the link to view all the photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39885149@N06/sets/72157621050648256/show/

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