Athens, Greece - 2017
Administrative Region: Attica
Dates: July 16-August 7, 2017
Residence: Homestay with host family and in hostels
School: Alexander the Great (School of Greek Language and Culture)
Educational Purpose: I went to Greece in order to study the Greek language and the Orthodox religion. Regarding the religion, I was particularly interested in Christian mysticism, monasticism, and iconography. Orthodox icons are seen all throughout Greece in churches, monasteries, museums, and homes, and the making of icons has been an important part of the Christian Orthodox religion since it was first established in Greece in the year 49 CE. I have read that when an icon is created by hand and done correctly, it becomes a window into the spiritual world, which can be experienced deeply (and mystically) by those who learn to pray. The monastic tradition goes back over a thousand years, and I stayed the night in two different monasteries in order to learn from the monks who live there permanently. I am grateful for Father Seraphim of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tacoma, and for my teacher George Pirotis of the same church for teaching me Greek for six months before I left. Having some knowledge of the language and the religion certainly made for some great (and spiritually powerful) adventures.
This trip began in Athens, where I took Greek classes and explored the sites and museums. From here, I set out on a pilgrimage to Agion Oros (known as Mt. Athos), a holy mountain in the north near Thessaloniki. To get there, I had to go through Delphi, Kalambaka (the Meteora region), and Thessaloniki. Finally, I flew back to Athens and took an excursion to the nearby island of Aegina to process my adventure through writing. The photos below explain the logistics of the pilgrimage by location and theme; however, the experience itself was indescribable.
Greece map source: https://www.traveltalktours.com/tour/landmarks-of-greece/
Aegina map source: https://dxnews.com/j48a_aegina-island/