I have been studying abroad here in Cyprus for officially ten days now and it has already become one of the best experiences of my life. The highways are lined with planter boxes full of flowers, the sea stretches farther than the eye can see, while the mountains peek out at night, with lights flickering through the darkness. Every day I wake up here I am met with warm sun and fresh sea air. The local Cypriot’s eyes sparkle as if their very soul is full of the light that seems to always shine here. I thought it would take time to acclimate to this new and foreign environment, but since the first morning here I have found myself settled into a world that is both inspiring and yet familiar.
The laid back lifestyle of Pafos lends itself to patience and understanding. Everyone I have come across speaks English, as they begin teaching the children here English in primary school, but learning Greek phrases such as Kaliméra -good morning- is far more rewarding than conversing in English. The people here are also extremely kind and gracious. But, almost better than the local Cypriot people, are the local Cypriot cats. Probably the most surprising aspect of Pafos so far has been the abundance of cats here. I can not walk anywhere without passing one, in fact as I write this now a small, orange and white cat is sitting across from me, keeping me company.
Also surprising, I have yet to experience any jetlag or irregularities in my sleep. Although Cyprus is seven hours ahead of Pittsburgh, from the first night here I fell asleep quickly and awoke with the sun the next morning. Waking up here is quite enjoyable, as I step out of my shared bedroom onto the balcony that leads directly to the large, refreshing pool. But, despite the pools calming allure, my heart belongs to the sea.
The beaches here are unlike any I have experienced before. With small out coves of sand and pebbles, that meet both rocky cliffs and crashing waves, I have quickly come to appreciate the natural state of the beaches here. On one of our most recent excursions around the Island I got to swim to Aphrodite’s Rock and touch the birthplace of the mythical goddess, Aphrodites. So far, we have traveled to the Tomb of the Kings and were also able to see the preserved mosaics of the House of Dionysos and hear the tales behind each of their scenes. On another excursion, we all went to Nicosia and learned more about the Cyprus Issue and saw the Green line that separates the Island.
Aside from the trips about the Island, during class, we focus the two sociology courses partially around Cyprus and it is very interesting to learn of the history here. Prior to embarking on this journey, I knew very little about Cyprus and now, after having been here for only ten days, I already know so much more about the cultural impact that colonization and conquering have had on this Mediterranean Island for thousands of years. I can not wait to see what else this trip has in store for me and look forward to sharing more of this amazing journey.