Hi friends and fam!!! I survived the entire 24 hours of traveling! The 10 hour flight from JFK—> Athens wasn’t bad at all actually (perhaps thanks to a family friend for giving me a St. Christopher token). I didn’t even sleep- I was busy watching some Netflix and chatting with an Air Force serviceman next to me for the majority of the time. He’s a pilot and was telling me about aviation and the current military- two things I know very little about. I was also able to access Wi-Fi on the plane for the first time ever so I was texting friends, which made the flight a lot better 🙂 Despite missing an entire night’s sleep, I wasn’t jet-lagged at all and just stayed up the entire day, since it was the afternoon when we finally arrived in Paphos. I did experience some dehydration the first day since the faucet water is not drinkable due to its’ high limestone content. Once we got big bottles of water, I was fine. On the short plane ride from Athens to Larnaca, it became very evident very quickly how badly I stood out as an American. As the plane took off, the two people to the sides of me and all three people in front of me blessed themselves at the exact same time- an amazing synchronization. Not long after that, the Greek man next to me said, “Are you on holiday?” I explained that I was studying abroad and we quickly sparked a conversation. He told me much about the history of Cyprus, some places to definitely try to see and just some info about the culture. He then brought up the American election and I was uncomfortable at first. I was warned that many Cypriots and Europeans might bring up the election and to be careful not to share which party we support, but I quickly realized he was a liberal and so we bonded over the idea that the Trump administration is not what we had hoped for.
A van was waiting for us—with a sign in Greek that we couldn’t understand— at the airport and drove us about 1.5 hours to our place for the next month. I’m staying in a resort called Paphos Gardens—yes, a RESORT! It’s a beautiful village with two huge pools, a bar and restaurant! We also have a breakfast buffet included with our stay every morning. We make a plate and eat by the pool 🙂 Housekeeping also cleans our apartment every day, which is an added bonus! There are live entertainment shows are every night on the patio by the lobby. We became friends with the dancers and they showed us around the Cyprus bar street. There are lots of older people from the UK vacationing here. Dr. E told us today that Cyprus is the Florida of the European Union. Many elders retire and vacation here from all over the EU.
On day two, we first got a tour of Neapolis University, which is the campus at which we are studying. All of the staff there are extremely accommodating and helpful. They all say, “Whatever you need, just let me know and I will help.” Everyone we have encountered speaks both Greek and English so the language barrier isn’t troublesome. There is a gym on campus equipped with a cool-down pool right next to the machines and also a personal trainer to use for free! We got a tour of the dorms that the students stay in and found out they have housekeepers who clean their rooms every day when they go to class- just as a hotel would. After touring the small university, we walked along the coast and saw the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and all of the restaurants and resorts that are beach-front. The Greek architecture is so beautiful and there are flowers EVERYWHERE! The buildings look like the background picture that Verizon and AT&T use as a sample background with the white houses and blue roofs in the hillside! There are also cats all over! In our little villa, we have a back patio and once we open the back door, cats flock to us. They walk into restaurants, houses and all over the streets like they own them. The cats are not your typical American house cat—- they are feisty, hissy and look like they’ve been through a cat fight… or 20. Dr. E said it’s because they produce so many cats per litter and there are many food and drinks bowls set up on the streets all over for them to survive and be able to reproduce. We also went to the supermarket, which was interesting since many of the food labels are strictly in Greek. There are many more jellies, jams, spices and condiments than our American stores. I purchased roasted turkey lunch meat and it does not taste like our turkey back home 🙁 On the walk back to the gardens, we got lost and stumbled upon this beautiful cemetery in the middle of a neighborhood, which I took pictures of below. The caskets appeared to be somewhat above ground but on top were flowers planted on top of each tomb. The whole cemetery looked like a garden, which I thought was very beautiful and very different from what our cemeteries look like in America. These are much more beautiful. There were also small glass cabinets holding oils and perfumes next to the tombs.
On day three, we had morning class and then went to the beach for the day. The sand was like flour and the sea was crystal clear. The water temperature is rather chilly, since they are just ending their winter season. It’s been sunny and about 75 degrees everyday, and will be getting warmer every day we’re here. We will likely not see rain at all, since it only rains from December- February. Not like the Pennsylvania weather at all 🙂 I also had my first authentic Gyro (one of my favorite foods) and a fresh Greek salad! YUM!