I apologize for posting so inconsistently! I’ll admit I’m pretty behind on my posts… I have yet to write about my travels to Greece, Britain, and Spain. I returned from Spain yesterday and will be boarding the train for another adventure in three days. All this during final’s week! Not to mention I am quickly realizing that with only 14 days left here I am not going to be able to accomplish everything that I want to. There simply isn’t time. Perhaps the saddest part is knowing that a lot of the people I have become friends with I won’t see again for a while, if ever. I love traveling but I feel as though the more places I go, the more people I miss, and the harder it is to mentally be in one place. Here, I am always partly back home in Dickinson, North Dakota, with my family and high school friends and partly in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with my college friends. I suppose when I return to the U.S. part of me will stay behind in Norway.
Greece was a wonderful break from all of the sightseeing trips that I have been on. I didn’t have a single thing in mind that I absolutely had to see or had to do in Greece as I stepped off the plane. So I was really free to just relax and experience a new place. Greece was also a different experience because for the first time it wasn’t just my roommate and I going. Including myself, there were eleven ACNers on the trip. Only five of us were American. Actually, most of the people staying at the hostel were Americans who were studying abroad in Barcelona. To be honest, being around Americans again made me gain an even further appreciation for Norwegians! For the first time, I was able to recognize the different cultural characteristics that are distinctly American. Before coming to Norway, I don’t think I really had a good grasp on what American culture is. I wasn’t the only American who preferred the Norwegian demeanor. At one point, my roommate and I were approached by a very friendly guy who thought we were Norwegian girls and when we corrected him and told him we were American he suddenly lost interest and walked away. It was quite the change from Norway where I feel like people are more interested in getting to know me because I am American!
As much as I love Norway, I do miss the United States. I miss how accessible everything is. I miss being able to walk up to someone in the store or at a restaurant and know without a doubt that they will be able to speak English. I miss my crazy friends who aren’t afraid to act ridiculous in public places. The quiet calm of Norwegians in public is nice but sometimes it feels rather restricting…like I can’t break the silence or I will be interrupting everyones’ thoughts. Most of all, I am excited to be done with school! Juggling school with friends and sleep has been even harder here than it is in the United States. I have never had to try and force myself to focus on school so much. Halfways through the semester I realized that this will most likely be the only time in my life that I will live in Europe and that I should probably make the most of it! Homework just didn’t seem as important anymore.
Speaking of focusing… back to the topic of Greece! We went to Greece at the end of March and the beginning of April so we just missed when the tourism season really starts up. This came with its pros and cons; we had the beach to ourselves a lot of the time which was really nice, but…the water wasn’t really the prime temperature for swimming which was disappointing. When we got to Agios Gordios (the little town where our hostel was), it was kind of a ghost town. The little shops, bars, and restaurants hadn’t yet opened. By the time our stay there was over, everything was just starting to come alive.
I was interested to see how Greece was doing in light of the current economic crisis, but honestly I couldn’t feel any of the financial stress. This was understandable in the little town where our hostel was, but I definitely expected to be able to tell in Corfu town. However, even in Corfu town, I didn’t catch any signs that anything was askew.
Corfu town was filled with an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. It seemed like everywhere I turned there was someone offering me something called a kumquat, a tiny grape-shaped/sized orange that you eat with the peel on. I tried ones that had been processed with preservatives, fresh ones, and even ones that had been made into liquor. We also visited Palaio Frourio, also known as the Fortress.
Normally, I would have taken part in some of the day activities that the hostel had going on like kayaking, cliff jumping, and four wheeling. But with the weather being a little chilly and the high prices, I opted to just hang out on the beach during the day and do the nightlife activities. I read some J.D. Salinger, built a giant turtle in the sand with my roommate, explored Agios Gordios, took the bus into Corfu town, and was brave enough to jump into the cold water a few times.
The food in Greece was also some of the best that I have tried on all of my travels. The hostel provided three course meals every night as well as breakfast which was convenient and for lunch there were several places that offered delicious gyros for around 2 euros.
Coming back from Greece was by far the hardest out of any of the trips that I have gone on. Many of the people who went on the trip came back with a cough and light-headedness which we affectionately named, “the Corflu”. And to top it off, ironically, my only souvenir from the hostel that we stayed at, the Pink Palace, was a case of pink eye.