As a part of my study abroad experience, we are required to write a final intercultural paper that covers how we have changed and grown throughout this experience and the progress we have made towards cultural competency. Part of this paper was to look through our old reflections and relive some of our experiences and reflect on them with what we know now. I came across my reflection for my final walk in Athens, and I want to share it because I think it gives a great picture of the every day life in Athens as well as how much I have improved on practicing mindfulness.
“The place I chose to do my final walk in Athens was through the national garden on my way to meet for history class at Monastiraki Square. I walked by myself because I realized that I had never walked to Monastiraki by myself and I thought that it was an experience I should have. I also enjoy walking alone and doing my own thing sometimes. It was a busy day in the garden, with many joggers, couples, and families roaming about. I focused on the sound of my feet hitting the ground and making a crunch noise. Then, I focused on some of the birds chirping, I noticed how faint this sound has become, probably due to the seasonal change.
I enjoyed the cool breeze against my legs. I smiled in relief as I realized that I’d be in boots and a winter jacket rather than a sweater and shorts if I were home in Minnesota. I watched the endless stray cats and dogs, and I thought about how much I will miss seeing them every time I go somewhere. Thinking back to how much I disliked cats when I first got to Athens, it is amusing that I have grown so fond of them, I even pet them and feed them from time to time.
Finally, I made it to the shopping center, where the streets are always flooded with people no matter the time of day. There are so many stimuli happening simultaneously at this place. There’s the persistent sales people offering you perfume and watches and flyers on the street, the hopeful musicians waiting for you to drop a coin in their cup, and, in my case, the hundreds of stares I get because I’m a six-foot tall, biracial girl with big curly hair in Greece. Nonetheless, I am going to miss Athens so much. I dread to hear the questions ‘How was your trip? What was your favorite part?’ when I get home because I can’t think of any way to put into words how amazing this experience has been, you had to be here to understand.”
Two days until take off.