Hello! To finish my title, I should introduce myself. My name is Delaney. As cheesy as that title may be, I have been in 5 countries so far this year and am feeling a bit like Carmen Sandiego! This long journey to my study abroad sight has been a breathtaking preface to the semester. I spent the new year in my home the Gem State–potatoes aren’t the only things Idaho’s got in the ground! Soon after, I left for NYC to meet up with this years Albert Gallatin Scholars group. Then our band of curious travelers departed on a red eye to Athens, Greece.
The scenes of crumbling ruins containing no shortage of iconic white marble columns, meandering streets filled with quaint store fronts and graffiti, and mouth-watering plates of roast lamb and stuffed calamari all made the first few days seem like a dream. As we delved into our studies, the Greece I thought I knew from myths and media began to change. Learning about its struggles–the debt crisis, the migration crisis, and the what this country has been through to try and preserve particular parts of its history–the true cost of our 2 Euro Gyros grew to include a 25% unemployment rate among other hardships. We seemed to get more than what they bargained for in Athens learning, exploring, enjoying the locals, and even making pottery. Yet, this was truer for the next leg of our trip.
Like many in our group I knew little of Cyprus. When we first arrived we saw some breath taking sights as we traveled the southern coast to see the birthplace of Aphrodite, its beauty surely honors her name, the Tomb of the Kings, where ironically no kings are buried, and the landscape of Cyprus, who’s lush rolling hills were well worth the motion sickness. Arriving in the capital of Nicosia things became more politically charged. The Island is split in two by a buffer zone which runs the horizontal length of the island and straight through the capital. The southern side is controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, which is heavily influenced by Greek culture. The north is occupied by the Republic of Turkey, which is the only country to recognize the area as a Turkish state. The conflict between these groups, which came to a boiling point in the late 1970’s early 1980’s, is now frozen and the boarder can be crossed at certain check points. The fascinating past and present of both Cyprus and Greece helped open my eyes to how ignorant we can be when trapped in our own bubble. I thought I had popped my bubble after moving from such a limited area to New York, but my travels abroad thus far have shown me how it can only be expanded.
Once the AGS trip came to an end I parted ways with my new found friends to stay with some old ones in London. While I waited for my semester in Italy I filled up my time with as many museum trips, pub visits for fish & chips, and other outings to see the bewitching and uncharacteristically sunny city as I could. Still, I became reminded more of home with each passing day. Easily marked as a foreigner once I began to speak, I was often asked questions regarding our president elect and as the inauguration drew closer the comments became more frequent. After the inauguration my old bubble became more foreign as the new representatives of my nation spat on its oldest ideals. Thankfully, I found solace when after a month of travel my final flight burst through the clouds and the beautiful Florence below seemed to call out that I was almost home.
- Neighborhood of Plaka in Athens, Greece: Delaney