My fall break: Paris, France.

November 7, 2010

To all those who are following this blog and thinking- “does this girl ever go to school or study!” I do really go to classes here! I actually have to study A LOT, and have had homework none stop since I have arrived in Athens. The good thing is that I know how to balance my life and prioritize. AND LET’S BE SERIOUS, WHO WANTS TO SEE PICTURES OF ME AT MY DESK STUDYING ANYWAYS!:)

On Wednesday night I was contemplating whether to travel over our week break from classes, or just explore Athens and catch up on homework. It took me about 2 seconds to begin my search of flights from Athens to every major city throughout Europe. I decided to go to Paris, France and decided that I should just leave the next day. So, I booked my flight for Paris for Thursday at 3pm.

THURSDAY, October 14th

On Thursday I packed in the morning, and then found out that the metro was on strike AGAIN! Every time I need to go to the airport, a concert, class, ANYWHERE the metro is on strike. Athens does not believe in suffering in silence like many Americans who go to a job they hate everyday. Instead, the people of Athens just do not show up to work. So, Sheila, Logan, and I ended up splitting a cab to get to the airport. The taxi driver was actually really nice, and took us right to the airport without trying to take us in a circle down back streets like many others have tried in the past.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to go through security and get to our gate. The whole time I was at the airport I could not believe I was going to Paris, I still cannot believe that I am in Athens sometimes!

We boarded the bus to be taken to our plane, a mile away. We boarded the plane, and we were off to Paris!!!!

When we arrived, we discovered that the trains were on strike in Paris as well. We had to take many different lines, and transfer many times to get into the city. At one stop, I did not know we had to transfer and almost got left on the train. The trains were so packed that we had to squeeze into the little room that was available at the edges of the doors. So, Sheila and Logan went in one door, and I went in another one. At one point, a lot of people got off the train and a seat opened up. I walked over to take the seat, looked up and Sheila and Logan were standing on the platform. From the seated position, I leaped towards the door with my suitcase swinging behind me. The doors closed and I threw my body in the middle of them. I somehow managed to get out of the doors, and my suitcase was still attached to me, but through the handle sticking out of the door. Everyone on the platform and inside the train was helping me open the doors to get my suitcase out. I made it, with my broken suitcase! The handle broke and I was unable to roll it around the city😦 but we made it:)

Now, this next part was a first for me. We did not have hotel reservations before getting into the city. We had no plans for the weekend, and no expectations.

After we got off the metro in the city, we began to look for someplace to stay. We found a small American hotel where the staff was very friendly and could speak english. We put our stuff in our room, and decided to go out for the night to explore. We found a little cafe by our hotel and decided to go in to take a look at the menu. The doors were really weird and after we decided we did not like what we saw, we could not leave. I tried to open the door for about a minute. The 6 employees standing by the door did not offer to help, but instead stood by, watched, and laughed at us! It was REALLY embarrassing that I had to eventually ask one of them to open the door for me.

The next restaurant had the doors propped open, so we walked in and sat down. I ate duck and potatoes for dinner! I am really excited that on this trip I have been able to eat new things every place I go, and actually enjoy it!!

FRIDAY, October 15th

On Friday, we went to Notre Dame! It was so beautiful! We walked around inside, and then proceeded outside to wait in line to get to the top. We were in line for about 45 minutes, when the man who was in charge came up to us and told us the top was closing. He explained that it had something to do with the strikes that were going on, and no one else would be let up to the top the rest of the day. Reluctantly, we left our place in line and set out to explore the rest of the city! For lunch we found a greek gyro stand, and of course had to try one. I had a small greek conversation with the owner, and he was so shocked/impressed when I greeted him in Greek. The gyros were HUGE!!! I had to hold mine with 2 hands to eat it, and honestly could not believe that I finished it! The stand used extra large pita bread and then filled it with tons of meat, french fries, tomatoes, lettuce, and special sauce!

After lunch, we came across street performers, and were able to cross the many bridges in the center of the city. We navigated the bus system and arrived at the Eiffel Tower for sunset. At the bottom of the tower we got some crepes! They were so warm and so delicious! It was about 40 degrees out, so the crepe was the perfect thing to warm me up! We waited in line to buy our tickets. Then we waited in line to get to the 2nd platform, and in the line to get to the top. Eventually we made our way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!! At the top we headed over to the mini-bar inside and got a glass of champagne! It was so exciting to drink champagne on the top of the Eiffel Tower. We took SO MANY pictures of ourselves, and even helped out some strangers by taking photos for them:)

The view was so amazing from the top. We were able to see the whole city all lit up! We were torn about going back down, but it was freezing and raining at the top, so we decided to go back down.

At the bottom, we took a different way to get home so we could see even more of the city. We found a baguette/crepe cafe for dinner. I ate more crepes over the 4 days in Paris, than I had my entire life. They were sooo yummy! I could not get enough. I had a strawberry jelly, banana, and sugar crepe for dinner. Some may think this is a crazy combination, but I absolutely loved it:)

SATURDAY, October 16th

On Saturday we wandered around the city again. We knew that our final destination would be the Louvre, but we did not have a designated path on how to get there. I liked this travel style. I had never been so free before Paris, and I loved it! We took side streets, different buses, and tons of bridges, just exploring the city. We found a real french painter, painting on the side of one of the bridges. We saw the flame from the Statue of Liberty. We somehow navigated down a street of designer shops, which Logan did not like very much, but Sheila and I loved it! We were even able to see the Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris!!

We made it to the Louvre and took pictures in front! There was a long line to get into the main entrance, so we used a trick that one of our acquaintances from the plane ride told us about. You go up to the security guard at the back of the line and ask for the entrance to the shopping mall. Then, you are directed to set of stairs that goes through an underground mall, and dumps you at the beginning of the ticket line for the Louvre. It was so awesome! We skipped a huge line, and then were able to get in for free with our Greek student ID card. I walked around the GIANT museum for about 4 hours, running up stairs, and through hallways to get to all of the exhibits I could. I was able to see the majority of the museum, and the main exhibits! I walked through the Egyptian Exhibit, Napoleon’s Apartment, the Greek section first. While in the museum I was able to see the Mona Lisa, Hammurabi’s Code, Mary Magdalene, and so much more!! It was such an exciting visit:)

After the Louvre, we took a bus back close to the hotel. We found another crepe place on the way back to the hotel, and decided to stop in. We took our crepes to-go and settled into our warm hotel room for the night!

SUNDAY, October 16th

On Sunday we went to breakfast at the hotel. We were served baguettes with butter, jelly, and nutella. We also had hot chocolate and orange juice. It was the perfect breakfast to build up the strength we needed for the day because today we were going to DISNEYLAND PARIS!! We took the train and then transfered to another train to get to Disney. When we arrived, I am pretty sure we saw snowflakes. It was very cold outside, but we were in Disney!! Nothing else really mattered:) I rode Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Small World, and Star Wars. There was also a parade and stage show we were able to see. It made perfect sense once I got there, but I was initially shocked when Mickey spoke french. We could not understand what he was saying, but all the Disney songs were still in English and we sang along.

The roller coasters were really intense! Space Mountain went upside down 7 times! And all of the other roller coasters went upside down too. My roommate Sheila is terrified of roller coasters, but somehow I convinced her to go on Space Mountain because in Florida it is not that scary. I said something along the lines of “let’s be serious, it’s Disney. These rides are for kids.” Well, when we stopped you might be able to picture the face she gave me. Sheila was a little mad:)

After a long day at the best place in the world, we hopped on a train and headed back to our hotel. We were both so tired that we fell asleep almost instantly upon entering our room.

~Paris was absolutely beautiful. The trip was such a once in a lifetime experience! I am so happy I was able to go, and I feel so lucky to be able to study abroad and see all of these amazing places.

Erica Tomaszewski, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger


Editors Note:

For photos click here:

For more blogs by Erica click here:

French Fries

October 5, 2010

The smell overwhelmed me, freshly grilled burgers, deep-fried onion rings, and salted french fries. I quickly ran over to Kelsey and told her we should eat here at Goodies. “Prof. Nevious said this place was really bad and that we shouldn’t go their,” a quick replied from Kelsey but my rumble stomach had ignored and decided we should go. The big bright red sign that hung over the door was flickering, the first sign that should have told me not to go into this fast food chain. I was particularly interested in the differences in fast food in Greece from the American chains such as McDonalds. 

As soon as I stepped into the room, I noticed the menus above the greasy counter were in English. This joy of knowing I could read the menu without any help had totally consumed me. I knew instantly what I wanted, a double cheese with bacon, an order of french fries and a large Coke. Money in hand, Kelsey and I walked up to the register to up in out order. “hello, we would like” were the only words that came out of Kelsey’s mouth before the lady at the register expressed that she, nor anyone else working could speak English. All I could think about is how could there be an all English menu when no one who worked there spoke a word of it.

“Point” a young lady dressed in blue genes had suggested to us. “Point and we will tell her what you want.” Overwhelmed that someone was nice enough to help us order instead of standing there and smirking, Kelsey and I quickly pointed to everything we wanted. As soon as our order was placed, I ran back to the lady who placed our order and asked her to tell the cashier we wanted french fries. When I asked, I received a very puzzled look from her. “french fries” I repeated over and over, but she still did not understand what I wanted. I then glanced up and pointed to the french fries and quickly discovered they were not called that in Greece.

I walked back to the table that Kelsey and I picked out, which seemed to be the only clean one available and sat down. Kelsey grabbed the menu that was on the table and started saying “Dipotes potatoes. That’s what they call french fries here, Dipotes potatoes.” It was weird to me that something so commonly recognized in my culture could be called something completely different in another culture. As I sat there confused about the situation, I started at the front counter to see whose order was up, knowing I would not understand it when our order was called. Two Cokes, two double cheese burgers, one “Dipotes potato” and one onion ring. Once is saw that tray, I ran up and took our food and smiled at the cashier, who returned with another smirk.

I had never seen a light tan burger before, it looked as dry as the desert sand in Egypt. After taking one bite, Kelsey and I looked at each other with utter discuses. The burgers were dry and flavorless. Kelsey ran over to the ketchup container and filled her cheeseburger wrapper with it, getting some on her pants, to hopefully add flavor to her meal. We sat and ate the food, trying to be respectful of our surroundings and thus the fast food chain of the Greek culture. We noticed when we got into the fast food place that when you are done with your meal, you just leave it on the table and walk out. This was another weird phenomenon to me, but was eager to see what happens when preformed. We both got out of our seats and decided to leave. I grabbed the last Dipotes potato, wiping the grains of salt from its surface, and ate it. As soon as I walked out of the restaurant, I new I would regret eating that last Greek french fry.

Kyle Brooks, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger

The Best Euros Ever Spent

October 5, 2010

As the faded blue ATV took a quick spin I grappled tightly for Kyle’s shirt and quickly saw my life flash before my eyes. We were on a one way trek across Greece’s Aegina Island on rented four-wheelers. The four-wheelers seemed almost as ancient as the temples we passed by, “quick one on the left! Another on the right!.” Bounding over mountains and slipping down dirt hills, security was the last thing on our minds as movie like images of greenery and scenery flew by us. Sitting on the back of the ATV with Kyle, my Rhode Island boyfriend, I was in bliss as I experienced this unplanned day.

Only hours before was I waking up slowly at 6am to catch a ferry ride to the island, with plans to go to a few museums, sit on the beach, and just hang at the port area. “For you, only 30 euro,” said a typical dark skinned Greek man in a “Green Earth” t-shirt renting ATV’s. 30 euro later, Kyle and I were zipping around beaches trying to find the most picturesque swimming spot; with high rocky cliffs, white sandy beaches, and crystal clear glimmering blue water. On our journey to this paradise we ended up finding the temple of Aphaia, a perfect example of ancient Greece with a mythological story of  infatuation and love. We also flew by the temple of Apollo with its one and only pillar standing amidst dozens of the remains of its ancient sanctuary.

The hills seemed to swallow our little ATV but then would suddenly open to the most glorious scenes of mountains and ocean, with islands looming in the misty distance. We followed signs for the Marina, and found ourselves driving by broken down houses, million dollar mansions, and abandoned hotels, where only the shell of these great resorts were left. It seemed almost like our attempt to leave behind temples of our existence. I couldn’t help but wonder, what people will think thousands of years from now when they come across these stone shells. A jerk to the right, as Kyle’s Rhode Island driving skills woke me from my dream state and the Marina was directly in front of us with its perfect white sandy beach and warm luscious water.

The 30 euro ATV was ours for the day, but we needed to be back to the docks around four to disembark back to the city of Athens. A quick dip in the ocean calmed my helmet hair and let me again slip into my dream state, I felt like I was in a movie, I was Alice in her Wonderland, everything was so surreal. The time had come to make our way back across the island, to our port and to turn in our ATV. Quickly cleaning off sand, we would let the wind on the four-wheeler dry our skin, as we plummeted down hills and drifted around turns we came across one more wonder, The Agia Triada Monastery.

 The wonderment of this ancient place floored us, and we had to stop to snap a few pictures. Back on the ATV we were back in our movie setting and turning down streets, passing older men and women with grey hair protruding underneath their helmets. After we turned in our keys, we continued to smile about the unexpected day we had, and how these were the best 30 euro’s every spent.

KelseyKeegan, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger

A Turkish Delight

September 30, 2010

First I apologize for not personally posting in over three weeks. But how could you be angry – my “College Life Experience – Life Outside of Rindge” has overtaken my life.

You see life in Athens is nothing but routine, anything but average, and full of excitement. Since I last posted so much has occurred, from beach excursions, market bargaining, and island hoping, but I guess we’ll have to skip up to the point of last, the week of Turkey.

We started our adventure by taking a plane to the Island of Samos where we caught a Ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey, where we stayed for a few days. Here we went to the Ephesus Museum, Ephesus itself and the House of the Virgin Mary all hosted by our tour guide “George.”

Ephesus itself was a phenomenal sight. Indescribable in words, but I will try to describe its beauty. To see an ancient city its actual form was incredible. From a library, to a bathroom, to a hospital it is a sight to see the structures of a former society and how they are similar and yet vary from today’s modern society.

The House of the Virgin Mary was a powerful sight to see, one that I will never forget.  No matter what ones religion a monument like this is dominant in spirit.

The following day we made a 6 hour train ride journey Istanbul, Turkey where we stayed for the remainder of our trip. Here we went to the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Archaeological Museum and visited a Turkish Newspaper called, “Today’s Zaman.” You would think we were here for a month the amount of things we did, but it was only a long intensely traveled week.

The Grand Bazaar was an interesting experience- one where our newly intensified bartering skills from Athens came in handy. Often we were told that we were getting “the best quality,” or “best product.” I was never satisfied until I got a product down to at least half the original tag price, and I did this with most all the items I bought from Turkey.

Today’s Zaman was a unique and exciting experience for myself, being a student of journalism. To see how a newspaper is run and produced in a completely culture interests me. The newspaper itself is in English and is one of only two English newspapers in Turkey. It is also the largest overall newspaper with a daily circulation of 750,000 and is the 75th overall biggest newspaper in the world.

Food in Turkey was slightly different but not too bazaar. There were lots of “shish” meals, lots of pizzas and burgers, casseroles and salads. Nothing was like American food but at the same time it wasn’t too odd in taste.

 Yesterday, we returned after an 18 hour long bus ride from Istanbul, Turkey. The bus itself wasn’t too terrible; I mostly slept and wished for time to pass by more quickly. It felt good to be back in Athens. After only one week away it feels as if this has become our home, and it feels so good to be back.

Nicholas Vitukevich, Assistant Editor-in-Cheif
Pierce Arrow Blogger

Editors note: The Pierce Abroad: Athens group has been doing too much to just write about. I encourage you all to check out our photos, look at our video clips at and check out Alex Terrill and our friends at FPTV-25 as he does a bi-weekly documentary on this trip at

In the Middle of the Earth

September 21, 2010

The freshness of the air hit me as I began to walk closer into the sea. I dove into the middle of the sea, where no one can hear me. Its just me and my conscience. I began to swim deeper into the sea and as I swam I notice aquaculture in the sea. I gasped for air and went back up to the surface. As the sun’s rays were blazing onto my skin, I went toward the bar and joined the rest of my American friends. They decided to drink for pure intoxication while I was drinking for the pleasure of having one. The sight of the sea coast was to be appreciated and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.

It was a cold wet drink in my hand as I picked it up to sip it. As the fluid ran through my body I felt a burning sensation throughout my throat and I felt the sea breeze as it blew to cool me down. I began to notice the Grecians in the water playing volleyball. “Andrea let’s go up to them and ask them if we can join,” I said. Andrea is a very friendly person when it comes to having fun. As I approach the Grecians I asked “Cantalevente Angleka?”(Do you understand English?) “Ne” he responded which meant he understood English. Even though he was not good with his English we understood each other through hand signals. We each divided into our own quadrants in the sea. As we began to serve, toss and hit the volleyball I realized that they are just like us, adults just wanting a good time.

As the sun set we were playing volleyball for a very long time and then we all parted. Andrea and I went to get our bags and head over to the tram. I was feeling a bit hungry as we stopped by the food bar. I decided to grab a gyro, a wrap that is filled with chicken and Tzekti sauce.  “I can’t believe we were in the middle of the earth!” Andrea said. All of a sudden, thats when it finally hit me that we were at the Mediterranean Sea.

Ahmos Diaz, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger

Unraveling the Mediterranean Sea

September 21, 2010

 Grabbing my fourteen euro towel, I almost felt the sandpaper material disintegrate in my hands while the Greek vendor walked away smiling that he had swindled another tourist. I was happy though just starring at the Mediterranean Sea with my other study abroad students. It was crazy to think that only nine days ago we were all sitting on a seven hour plane flight complaining about our back pain, I spun a sandy rock in my hand.

      The clear ocean in front of me was full of older single swimmers just floating in the small harbor. The majority of the beachgoers were older gentlemen with very tan skin and their boisterous bellies hanging down in front covering the top of their Speedos. The other people crowding the beach consisted of children with their grandparents and parents. I watched as a small boy pretend to drown and his father dove in to save him. The father stood up and scolded the child for faking and the boy pouted with innocent eyes.

      Our group of students stood out and was constantly stared at for our white skin and loud language. The way we said “no” and shook our head to the many beach vendors was very clear, that we were not from this area of the world. The covered bodies and the cloud of sunscreen seemed to just float over our area of the public beach. The vendors seemed to flock to our space, like moths to a flame, and unfortunately most of us lacked change making it impossible to bargain.

       Even the swimsuits we were all wearing seemed too conservative for the public beach. The women tanned with untied tops and thong bikinis; while they let their toddlers go nude while playing in the sand. The older children seemed to be focused on learning how to play paddle ball, a popular sport here at the public beach. The adults seemed like pros able to keep the flow of the game constant without dropping or over hitting the ball for multiple turns. The children couldn’t really keep the ball in the air for more than one turn. I was intrigued by the sport-centered feel of the beach; there wasn’t a sandcastle or shovel in sight.

      As my time there came to an end, I put my layers of clothing back on and marveled at my small tan (really a darker shade of white) and dusted off my new pink towel. Seeing that our group was starting to leave, the throng of vendors seemed to disperse from the beach. We packed our bags and reluctantly left the clear sea and headed to the tram station. Caught in my zipper of my backpack my fourteen euro towel started to unravel.

Kelsey Keegan, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger

I LOVE to get robbed

September 16, 2010

I can imagine the dreadful feeling that a parent feels when they misplace their child at a store; they were just here a second ago. The typical realization that you have misplaced your child looks like frantic flailing of arms and running around screaming their name. A sense of where do I look first, look around twice, thrice maybe even a fourth time, still they seem to be invisible only to you. The fact that you lost a human does not compare to losing a back pack, because you know the human might eventually meander back. Some might think that that last part was cruel, but since I have no children my things are equivalent in my immature mind. For me my backpack (that contained various electronics, ids, American money, and school books) were taken on an off season September day on a Greek beach to only the Gods know where. Moments before, I had gone to get a sandwich from the local bodega where I had mapped out a plan to approach a fellow Grecian that was tanning on the beach. Upon returning I was all smiles and had some good pick up lines when I looked down to see nothing. The realization made my mouth turn into what I envision looked like a Mursi woman in Ethiopia. You know the ones with the lip plates, but only this time the plate was not in, leaving a gaping hole otherwise my mouth.

In my defense I was there with ten other people and all of their bags, but somehow a derelict snatched my American life. As I scoped and spoke in broken Greek to random tanners no one had conveniently seen or obviously noted their obliviousness to my problem. Walking around turned into wandering around, going up to strangers that treated me like a normal beggar at first until they realized I was American. There is a popular song that they play in Greek clubs called, ‘Papa Americano’ roughly translated into ‘We don’t speak American’ this was a popular phrase I heard. At the end of the beach I had noticed a tent, I went in. There were bags, lots and lots of book bags of all shapes and sizes. American, European, maybe even Asian these people’s bags contained a glimpse of their tiny everyday life. This is the thief I thought, but where was he? These are not my bag, he never came back, I feel as though someone tipped him off that I was coming. I would later learn that thievery is very common due to the influx of refugees from Africa, mostly I was told by locals it was Algerians (I crashed an exhibit that was being put on by the German embassy and all of their head honchos, they told me this). As the day wore on my bagless-self started having odd thoughts. I thought of CSI when they always find the victim in random water puddles or on the sides of garbage cans thrown helplessly. Have they done this to my poor backpack, I began to think of my backpack as a person. Feeling bad for never naming it, maybe I did mistreat it. This was crazy talk; I knew that I needed to go on a search for another.

You might not have thought that Athens, Greece has a ghetto, but I have seen and smelt it. I first started at the street across from the Flea Market, where they actually sold stolen merchandise, I know because I asked and was then given a weird look. A man from Ethiopia who I will call Sam was basically giving me the hotspots of Athens, until I realized that it was more about drugs. He told me not to go alone to any of these parts and then he retracted the statement and told me not to go in general. I would like to think that in that second look that he gave me when he retracted he realized that I would probably be worth a lot more than he originally thought. Maybe my backpack was sold on the slave market, would I have to go that far to find it? After trying to sell me some fake Ray-Bans I went to the extremely Ghetto area, to be truthful he did not actually tell me the places he just nodded his head in certain directions. After my attempt at being ghetto in the mean streets of Athens I decided to buy a cheap Asian back pack, which I am sure that the entire population of Beijing was living behind the counter.

No ghetto can compare to the phone call that had to be made to my mother to let her know what had happened. Why is it that parents never want to know what happened, they always want to know why we let it happen? Convincing her that I did not purposely leave it out to be stolen, and after several admissions that I had a lot of air in my head she would work some kind of parental magic. Now I dreadfully wait for a week in order to receive my packages via snail mail, I know have a new backpack. Which I got cheaply just for the pure fact that I was a women and the street vendor was a male, he let me know this situation repeatedly. The question I get asked the most now is, “Didn’t anybody warn you about pick pocketers?” I know reply with, “Yes, but what they failed to mention was that they were going to take the entire bag.” I must walk the streets and pass the time like the gypsies. Maybe I am now a gypsy but at least I know that I would be worth a lot on the slave market.

Andrea Gracia, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,138 other followers