Busy, Busy, Busy

These first few days have been FULL  of new faces, new places, and lots of defining moments. I have so much to share and a lot of time to share it so I might as well.

I last left you on Wednesday evening after my first day of orientation and it is now Saturday evening…so much has happened! On Thursday I had another orientation session and it was up to us to find our way to the Agora building. This is a 40 minute walk from my student village and I had walked it only once the day before. Luckily, I walked with Anna, a girl from my tutor group, and we made a great team. We both remembered different parts of the trip to the correct building, so together we made it, no problem. That day we learned a lot about courses at the university and how to register for them. The way courses, instruction, and exams work here in Finland are much different than in the US. I will have to update you on a separate post once I have sorted out the system and am better able to explain it. Overall, I am very excited about the courses I will be taking. Four of the courses will be for credit to transfer back to Northwest. Those classes are Introduction to Classics of Sociology, International Management, Intergroup Communication, and Ethnology and Anthropology of Religion. I am also taking two courses of interest just for fun. Survival Finnish (which I’m sure will prove to be helpful) is a six week class and I will also be taking Education in Finland. The education system here is one of the best in the world and I am interested in learning a little about it while I am here and taking part in it.

At first, one of the classes I had originally planned to take was not available in English any longer and I had a mini panic attack trying to find another course to take in order to have a full semester of credits to transfer back home to maintain my full time student status. This is important to keep my financial aid and keep me on track to graduate in a timely manner so it was very important that I found an alternative. Thursday evening consisted of me searching Korppi, the student course sight, for courses. Me and my roommates all shared in the fact that there was some stress about courses. Some of theirs overlapped in time slots and they had to rearrange their schedules or, like me, some of the classes were only in Finnish. So most of our evening was spent sitting at the kitchen table sharing complaints and worries. We talked about everything from travel stories to things we needed to buy but couldn’t find. Sometimes there is nothing better to bond over than comparing times of struggle. It was so nice!

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Maps and laptops and late night snacks strewn across the table. Here are Julianne (on the left) and Sydney (on right). Julianne is from Kansas and Sydney is from Iowa. Our third roommate, Alena, is from California.

Friday morning my roommates and I left our apartment around 9:10 to make it to the last day of orientation by 10:00. 40 Minute walks are my norm now. Add the ice and snow and I will never complain about walking anywhere in Missouri ever again. I enjoy the walk actually, and it was nice to make the trek with my roomies. After orientation we had library tours with our tutor groups. This was what I was most looking forward to about orientation because I absolutely love libraries. When I am at home studying at Northwest I am in the library almost every day of the week. I love to study there and it is a good place to run into people. Here it seems to be no different. I found the inside of the library to be interesting though. It is not quite as cozy as the library at Northwest because the main color is a bright, obnoxious, yellow. It kind of cracked me up. The railings are all yellow, the bookshelves have yellow accents, and the walls of the study cubicles are solid yellow. Studying in one of those must give people headaches. It is an interesting color choice, but I can adjust. If that means wearing sunglasses when I study, so be it. My tutor Tina was such a great tour guide and she has been so helpful throughout this first week.

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Me and girls from my tutor group walking to the library for our tour. From left to right: Anna from Austria, Stacy from Russia, and Victoria from Russia.
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An entrance to the library. See the yellow?
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Our tutor showed us this fancy room on the second floor. As long as no one is already occupying it, feel free to nap away.

After the library tour it was about 4:00pm and me and the girls in my tutor group wanted to meet with some friends at a bar near by. We arrived and picked a table. The waiter came up and said some words in Finnish and all of us girls turned and looked at one another and then simultaneously said something like “Hello” or “Sorry” or “Excuse me” to let the waiter know that we were all very good English speakers but not at all fluent in Finnish. The waiter immediately repeated himself in English. Much better. After about 20 minutes the rest of our group showed up, there ended up being around 20 people sitting around our table. It was so much fun! We had such interesting conversations about things like if it was common to have middle names in your country, what currency looks like in different countries, and stereotypes. I was curious what people thought of America and they told me. My friend from Lithuania said that she thought of large, overweight people, a girl from Morocco said it was common to think that people in America are not informed and do not care about what happens in the rest of the world, and a gentlemen from Germany said “I think of all of your beautiful national parks”. Maybe he felt bad. He probably did. But honestly, none of this offended me, and of course they weren’t accusing me of these things. It is so interesting to hear what other people have to say. Our conversations were all very interesting! It was a fun evening. Then I walked the 40 minutes home.

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At Sowhi Bar. On my left is Kamilė from Lithuania and Stacy from Russia again on my right. You can see the nice German who complimented our National Parks in the mirror taking the picture. What a nice guy!
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Almost everyone fit in this picture. There are about 6 people to the back left that you can’t see. Of everyone there were people from Turkey, Korea, Canada, France, Russia, Morocco, Germany…you name it.
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Little viv in a big city center. I read this morning that the sidewalks in the center are heated so it is always comfortable to walk around.
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A tunnel I walk through everyday when I head to school or the city center. 

This morning I had the pleasure of sleeping as late as I wanted and I was grateful for that. It was strange though. The sun does not rise here until around 10:00am and even then, it never shows itself. There is cloud cover at all times, just a hazy gray that brightens slightly with the sun and dims 5-6 hours later. So when I woke up at 8:30 this morning I was surprised to find that it wasn’t still five in the morning. I did go back to sleep and woke up around 10:30. My roommates and I had plans to go to the city center to make some essential purchases so we took our time getting ready. I was looking around online this morning for some stores to go to, but also on the “Second Hand Items in Jyväskylä” Facebook page for some cheap alternatives. I found a post by Panu Makinen about items for sale. He had so many things and he lived just next door so I sent him a message and within an hour my roommates and I were walking to his building to buy some things for no more than 2 euros a piece. I purchased a nice blanket for my bed and a pizza cutter for a total of 3 euros. My roommates bought bath towels, sheets, other kitchen utensils, and a few hand towels. I have also reserved a coffee maker and a nice rug someone is selling. It is an hour walk to pick them up, I will make it there eventually.

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The first time I have looked out my window when the sun is up! The forest in the distance looked beautiful this morning.
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Our friend, Panu, with all the goodies! He came out the door with all four of these bags full of useful items for sale. Nothing more than 2 euros.
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My roommates and I with our bargain buys. We stopped for this picture just past the entrance to the building. I’m sure Panu saw and thought we were weirdos.
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One interesting thing in Finland, you must recycle. Today we took out our trash and recycling for the first time. These recycling areas are situated in several places around the student village. They are labeled (in finnish) for what goes in which. What I wasn’t expecting was to open the top and be looking down into a deep, insulated pit atleast 4 to 5 meters deep (that’s about 15 feet for you Americans).  

We headed to the city center afterwards and accomplished some shopping also met up with some of the girls from my tutor group. We ate dinner together in the city at “The American Diner”. Not my first choice, but once I saw cheeseburger and fries listed on the menu, I wanted nothing else.

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A church near the city.
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TARGET! 🙂

It has been a wonderful week here in Jyväskylä. I have confirmed my courses, established friendships, and had my first night out on the town! What a busy few days. Tomorrow I will meet up with tons of exchange students for an official city tour and lots more exploring. Thank you for following my blog and showing an interest in my life here in Finland. It is fun for me to write these posts because it helps solidify my memories and experiences but also because I know that other people are reading and enjoying my posts as well. Talk to you soon!

I Made It!

In Finland time (8 hours ahead of most of you), I have officially been in Jyvaskyla for about 24 hours!

Yesterday was eventful and so was today. I will try and catch you up.

Most of my flights went well, with only two minor delays. One of the delays was my connection from London to Helsinki, Finland and that is the one that caused me some worry. My flight was supposed to depart at 10:20 am and arrive in Helsinki at 3:15 pm. My flight didn’t leave until 11:30 which put me back an hour arriving in Helsinki and gave me only 45 minutes at the very most to unboard the plane, go through passport check, make my way to baggage claim (which was a LONG walk), wait for my luggage, go through customs, and find where the buses departed to catch my bus at 5 pm that would take me to Jyvaskyla. My plane landed around 4:15. I can’t tell you how I made it on that bus, but I did.

Once I got on the bus, I had a moment to soak in my environment. I was no longer in an airport with a wide variety of nationalities and languages. And I was no longer just waiting for my connecting flight. I had reached my destination and was now alone in a sea of Fins, on public transportation driving through a country I had never been to. And even though the sun had set, I could still see the beauty of the country. There was snow, EVERYWHERE and I could tell that the trees were all tall, skinny Aspen trees except for a few evergreens by the light from the street lamps.  I couldn’t help but notice the street signs as well, and I also couldn’t manage to read any of them either. They are all in, Finnish, oddly?! This was truly when reality struck me. Sitting in a bus seat looking out a window into the night could have happened anywhere. But looking at a store sign that reads “Stockmannin Helsingin keskustan tavaratalo” out that same window at least tells me I’m not in the U.S. anymore. All bus announcements were also in Finnish and I was completely clueless as to what was being said, but I knew the city I needed to make a transfer in and I knew what time I was scheduled to arrive in Jyvaskyla, so that wasn’t too difficult. My eyes kept closing and eventually I stopped fighting it. When I arrived in Jyvaskyla, my student tutor (which is a student at the university who is my walking, talking savior my first week here) picked me up from the travel station and we began walking to my apartment. I arrived but didn’t have access to wifi, I would have to contact my family the next day that I had arrived. I slipped into my pajamas and passed out.

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The bus stop where I had my transfer to the bus traveling the final three hours to Jyvaskyla.
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The view out my window, lots of snow!

The next morning, me and my three roommates met with a group across from our apartment and walked to the orientation session at Agora building on the Mattilanniemi campus. The walk was anywhere from 20-40 minutes and I didn’t mind because the past 24 hours had been nothing but sitting on a plane. The orientation covered basic information, I have another session tomorrow and on Friday, and then we ate lunch with our Student tutors and the other students in that group. My first meal included a salad and fish curry along with a boiled potato and some bread. It was very good! Campus tours followed and then we went to the city center to walk around.

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My makeshift breakfast (nuts and fruit I packed from home a pretzel and cream cheese I had saved from my flight to London, and some water).
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My first meal at a student restaurant. Very tasty!

Me and a few students living in Kortepohja decided to make the 1.5 mile treck back to our housing around 5 pm or so. When we made it to the student village, they headed for the M and N buildings where they lived and I headed towards building R. Well, I thought I was heading towards building R. I got so lost and so turned around. I probably asked 10 people where I could find building R until I finally found it. The Kortepohja student village is much larger than I thought and there are no distinguishable landmarks. Just trees, and trees, and trees, and snow. All of the apartment buildings are white and at some point I just couldn’t remember where I had been. I couldn’t use internet because I am using wifi until I can buy a sim card, so it was up to me and the many strangers I passed to find my way home. I walked around for about 45 minutes trying to find my building, but then I did. 🙂

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Walking back to the student village from the city center. The trees are so ominous. This was before I got lost…

Once I got home, I realized I needed food. So me and two of my roommates set out to the grocery store, yet another walk but only about 10-15 minutes. The grocery store was small, but we were in there for over an hour just trying to figure out what everything was. Would you believe that grocery stores in Finland have products in Finnish? Crazy. As a bargain shopper, I bought quite a bit of food for only 27,40 euros. Then I realized I had to carry it home. Hah! You should have seen me and the other girls lugging our groceries over our shoulder along the icy sidewalks. But we made it back and ate our respective dinners.

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Apples, i think.
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Just an example of the helpful signs posted in every aisle at the supermarket.

Realizations from my stay in Jyvaskyla so far:

  1. Walking is unavoidable. If I hadn’t lost my fitbit in the Dallas airport, I would tell you how many miles I have walked today. Well over 5.
  2. The university campus is a good distance away.
  3. Every Fin I have stopped at the airport/bus station/along the street/in the supermarket has been extremely kind and extremely helpful.
  4. I don’t know very much Finnish.
  5. I will learn very quickly.

It is 11:30 in the evening here in Jyvaskyla and I am tired! Tomorrow brings another orientation session and a few meetings about courses and the beginning of classes next week. I am heading to bed, goodnight!

I Haven’t Gone Anywhere, Yet

It was 7 o’clock on a Monday morning in mid September and I was still half asleep when I got the email that would confirm my placement for my semester abroad. Imagine me, standing in my bare feet and sleep wrinkled pajamas with hair sticking in all directions and a major life changing notification, almost a month sooner than expected, on a screen in my hand. I was not at all prepared. But now I am! January 1st, 2018 marks the beginning of a new year, but also the beginning of my semester abroad studying at The University of Jyvaskyla in Jyvaskyla, Finland. The morning of the first, I will be dragging myself, my luggage, and my family to the airport where we will say our so-longs and see-you-later’s. BUT, I still have one more week to prepare for my semester in Finland and I will be spending every waking moment making packing lists, ordering last minute necessities on Amazon (woo two day shipping), and enjoying my last few days with my cat, oh and my family.

I have been asked by many people about how I am feeling about my departure and I guess I don’t have a good answer, because it’s not that simple. There were emotions at every stage of preparation for this semester. There was frustration and confusion while trying to apply to schools in the dead of summer when no one was in their office and the average email response time was a week. There was relief when I finally submitted my application. Then back to frustration and confusion when I got placed at my third choice school which turned to satisfaction that I even had a placement and then excitement when I could wrap my mind around Finland and all of the wonderful things about it. Then came the “I’m over my head” stage with endless emails of information about housing contracts, bank accounts, health insurance, and transportation. It was exciting to travel to New York for a few days with my mom to apply for my residence permit but I was soon struck with panic yet again when the Finnish Consulate told me some of my documents would need revision. And don’t even get me started on my course approval forms, that was a nightmare. But now, all of that is in the past, and soon the life I know and the places I call home will be as well.

With everything I have stressed over, planned for, and dreamed of only being a week away, all I can do is wait. I will enjoy being home while it lasts.

Flowers in Korea

Before arriving, I did not picture Korea to be such a mountainous or nature loving country. I imagined the neon flashing lights and bustling streets that are shown in movies or other medias. While those features do not lack, the nature is more likely to be found across the country as a whole. This past weekend I attend a couple flower festivals and below are  pictures that came with the fun of exploring through open fields of flowers. Enjoy! ♥

 

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Gyengju & Cherry Blossoms

This past weekend I had the chance to visit Gyeongju which is located about 40 minutes North of Ulsan. Gyeongju is rich in history and even richer in beautiful scenery. However, it wasn’t always known as Gyeongju. Its early name was Saro which was the capitial of Silla, an ancient kingdom from 1st century BCE to 10th century CE. While most of the kingdom has been destroyed from war three structures and the artificial lake that was created still stand as beautiful ruins. Our next stop was to the tombs that were left preserving the royals. Korea has only excavated one tomb, Cheonmachong, and decided that they found enough artifacts that there was no need to ruin the others. Cheonmachong is not famous for the person who was buried there, in fact they have no clue who it is, but rather for the flying horse drawn onto a horse’s blanket. This symbol can be found all over the city from shop windows to billboards. Our last stop was to the water wheel that is deemed the founding place of tourism in Korea. After the water wheel was built next to a lake stores and hotels started moving in and tourism boomed. IMG_8786 IMG_8788

 

Gyeongju is also known for having a wonderful cherry blossom festival but sadly the trees there hadn’t bloomed yet, but lucky for me because the ones in Ulsan are in full bloom and just as pretty as ever! The Cherry Blossom trees only bloom for two weeks during the whole year and bring beauty to everything around them. Most cities will hold a festival commemorating this time. As much as I could describe to you the trees I believe that pictures will do them more justice than I could!

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Until the next post!!

Chloe

Ulsan, Korea

I have officially been in South Korea for a month and I have to say it’s stealing my heart. One of the best things about the University of Ulsan is that they offer a simple conversation program for Korean students to practice English, Spanish or French from the exchange students who are native speakers. I cannot thank the University enough for choosing me to be a part of this program for the semester.

While practicing English is the main focus with my three groups that I meet with three hours each per week, they are so excited to show me their city and the surrounding ones! From movie nights and coffee shop dates the men that I am a conversation partner are making this experience all the better. However my two favorite memories so far have been 1) a beach trip to Daewanggyo National Park which offers an incredible bridge that connects a look out point on the rocks in the ocean to the mainland (pictured below) and 2) a pet café located just down the street from the University.IMG_8648

Aside from making memories with my tutees, the other exchange students and I have had quite the time getting to know each other and going on adventures. Located within Busan (about 45 minutes away) are several Buddhist temples and we took a day trip to Hongbeopsa Temple. Upon arrival we were greeted by grounds that are covered in sculptures, waterfalls, lanterns and so much beauty. At Hongbeopsa specifically you are welcomed to the temple by the largest Buddha I have ever seen. During our day at the temple I witnessed several traditions. The main one being the Prayer of 108 Prostrations. During this time those within the prayer room bow 108 times cleansing their minds during each bow. It is said that during each bow your mind and body become more of one and take away the thinking mind and return it to the natural mind. Upon entrance in the Hall of 1,000 Ancestors we found temple workers creating hand-made lanterns for the upcoming celebration of Buddha’s birthday. The simplicity that the lanterns start as and then created into an immaculate creation is more than awe worthy. Words simply cannot describe the beauty that was found that day at the temple.IMG_8718 IMG_8732

Until next time,

Chloe King- Ulsan, South Korea

Tour of Attica: March 14-18

My apologies all for the long delay in posting. I had to go back to the US for a bit for a family thing and then I was on an archaeological tour of Attica.  Below are some of the pictures from that tour. The tour is part of a collaborative class with both ACG students and Duke students participating. They have various digital history projects that they are creating which require them to have a fairly extensive knowledge of the terrain in and around Athens. So the tour took them (and me) to the major points and across major roads around Attica.

View from Penteli (480x640) View from Mt. Penteli looking over Athens. Mt. Penteli is the mountain from where the Parthenon marble was extracted.
Quarry Road_Penteli (480x640)The remains of the quarry road that the workers would have hauled the large marble stones down.
The memorial of the turning point in the battle at Marathon (Persians vs. Greeks). The monument (a sin269 (2) (480x640)gle Ionic column) was erected in the 460s to coincide with the establishment of an annual funeral for the Marathonian dead.
Athenian Tumulus_Marathon (640x480)The tumulus where the Athenians who died in the battle of Marathon (490 BCE) would have been buried. A more elaborate monument to the war dead was erected in Athens proper.
Also at Marathon is a sanctuary to the Egyptian gods, who were a regular part of Greek cult practice. Not much of this site remains but the base of what was presumaSanctuary of the Egyptian Gods_Maratho (640x480)bly an Egyptian style pyramid and several entrance statues like you see here. There was also an extensive Roman bath complex built by Herodes Atticus, who was sort of the Bill Gates of his day. He is also known to have put up the funding for the Herodion, a theater that sits at the base of the Acropolis in Athens proper.
These are the remains of an extensive complex to Demeter at Eleusis. In the center of the image is the telesterion where the mysteries of Demeter (Eleusinian Mysteries) were practiced in secret. Demeter was a goddess of agriculture so the thinking is that the secret rituals had to do with agriculture in some way.View of Telesterion_Eleusis (640x480)

Demeter_Eleusis (480x640)I think this has become my new favorite statue. It is a statue of Demeter which seems to function almost as a column and was found in the Eleusinian complex.  You’ll notice the basket on her head and the iconography on the side of the basket which has the symbols of agriculture.

 

 

 

Fortification Bastion at ErythraiFortification walls and the bastions at Erythrai. This particular site in antiquity was frequently fought over by both the Thebans and the Athenians. It sits at the top of a mountain giving it views to the south which in antiquity would have been mostly Athenian farmland. To the north are the mountains leading into Boeotian territory.
Fortification wall and reconstructed bastions at Agosthina. This particular set of fortifications was meant to protect the interior from attack by sea as Agosthina was a coastal town. Today, it is a seaside resort for Athenians in the summer.Fortifications_Agosthina (480x640)
The stoa (the remains of which you see here) at Brauron is unique as it contained mostly dining rooms rather than storefronts.  It is part of a larger complex which includes a temple to Artemis and the ‘grave’ of the mythological figure Iphigenia.Stoa at Brauron (480x640)
This is the deme theater at Thorikos, which was a mining site for Athens. Here they mined for silDeme Theater at Thorikos (640x480)ver with which Athenian coinage was made.  This particular theater shows how the ancient Athenians used the terrain for their needs. It also is evidence that perhaps early orchestras (the floor area at center of theater) were not circular or semi-circular but rather polygonal. If you look in the distance across the water, you can see an island. This island was a prison island where the military junta which ran Greece from 1967-1974 imprisoned their political enemies, most notably those who were politically liberal.

 

There is something positively breathtaking about the temple of Poseidon at Sounion.  It sits literally on the edge of a cliff at the southernmost point of Attica. Temple of Poseidon_Sounion (640x480)
View at Sounion (480x640)The view from the temple of Poseidon at sunset.

 

 

Ulsan, South Korea

Arriving in Ulsan five days ago has left me with plenty of time to feel like I have become a native to the city. Although I know this is highly untrue, the city offers a homey, secure feeling that you would find in Maryville. However, Ulsan is very different than our tiny Midwest town.

Ulsan is a large metropolitan city located on the southern penesula of South Korea. There are 1.2 million people who call the city home with roughly thirty thousand of them being international. The locals are friendly and understanding of the language barrier that is between us and they are willing to help (we even had a lady call her daughter to translate for us so we could order dinner)! They care much about their appearance and the persona they put off outside their homes. Due to this there are many beauty stores and salons and several coffee shops on each block.

One of the major differences between here and home is that there seems to be hardly any traffic laws. Speeding, cutting people off, making u-turns in the middle of traffic. You name the law and someone Ian probably breaking it. Not to mention that side streets have parking on either side of a one lane street that traffic flows both directions at the same time while sharing the road with pedestrians. Unlike at home people do not stop for those walking!!

While I feel very safe and at home already, some of the other exchange students from California and myself have joked that this is the Asian Los Angeles. The brightly lighted store fronts mixed with the array of people walking the strip makes for a comforting feeling you’d find in the American city.

The past five days have been wonderful and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here has to offer. Photos to come next post!

다음 번엔 클로이 (Until next time, Chloe)

More on Athens

My apologies for the delay in posting. The weather the last two weeks has not been all that conducive to getting around and about.

American School of Classical Studies in Athens & the Wiener Laboratory

The American School of Classical Studies in Athens is just about as close to a mecca as Classicists get.  It has two substantial libraries: one dedicated to the ancient world (Blegen) and one dedicated to the early modern and modern (Gennadius).  They are amazing facilities. But in the last two weeks I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Wiener Laboratory of Archaeology.  It was an amazing experience. I was able to hold the bones of a young child from an excavation in Boeotia dating to the Byzantine era. The tour included an introduction to all the newest methods and technologies available in the field. It also included discussions with some of the Fellows there including one who does archaeo-volcanology, specifically the super-volcano that lies in the eastern mediterranean beneath the island of Thera (Santorini). As the fellow was explaining his research he talked a bit about why it was relevant to a contemporary audience: climate change.  His research deals with volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago and tracing the impact of those eruptions.  His research does prove that climate change is not just a modern phenomenon; it has been happening for a very, very long time.

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National Archaeological Museum

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I also visited the National Archaeological museum.  Under ordinary circumstances, this museum is phenomenal but because it is off season and because of the economic situation, a good half of the museum was closed. This 009 (600x800)unfortunate circumstance meant that I did not get to see some of my favorite statues, notable the Leonine Alexander.   The museum was, however, having two special exhibits, one on the Odyssey and one on the hidden holdings of the museum, which included a piece dating to 7000 BCE (image on the right).

 

Here are just a few of the more famous holdings:

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On a more mundane note, I opted to take the bus down to the museum rather than the metro so I could see more of the city and its northern suburbs.  Athens’ buses are actually kind of awesome. They are clean and have video screens of the route so you can kind of follow along.  On a sunny 60 degree day,  traffic was…interesting.  Cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles do not seem to follow any particular set of rules. The only rule seems to be “do what you have to do but don’t hit anyone else.” It can make being a pedestrian a rather challenging feat. I am not familiar with Athens’ traffic laws, but I do not get the impression that pedestrians have the right of way. So if you are ever in Athens and you are walking about, yield to traffic and look both ways (even on a one way street) more than once.