Bonjourno! Ciao! Hello! Yee sas! Hola! Hallo! The global world we live in is fascinating. The different religions, lifestyle choices, & ethnic languages all contribute to this globally diversified concept. Look how people in your school dress, the foods people eat in your town, even the way people speak. These types of diversity in your community are easiest to identify. However, to discover diversity on a whole new level, try taking a trip around the other side of the world. That’s what 41 other students and I did, and discovered two diverse cultures distinctly different from our own.
Roman and Greek cultures both have a long history to them; perhaps some of the oldest, yet most sophisticated. Today, they continue to evolve from their ancient pasts, but the artifacts depicting such cultures are still abundant in the masses. Additionally, the foods of these diversified cultures are none like our own. Being able to uncover this ancient history first hand and apply it to Roman and Greek culture today adds to the experience.
At 7:00 a.m., we landed in Rome, the ‘eternal city’, and met up with our tour guide, Massimo. We darted head first into a city and culture unknown to us. We were guided through the baroque Piazza Navona marketplace, Rome’s largest and most famous 1762 AD fountain: Fountana di Trevi, the 18th century Spanish steps, Rome’s preserved ancient temple, the Pantheon, and a couple of massive cathedrals. Students dicovered artwork and landmarks they had studied about in school, and it was amazing to them to see them firsthand. The food, was also a new discovery awaiting.The pastas, sandwiches, and gelato represented diversified cultures unique from our own.
We toured Vatican City, discovering masterworks of art, like the Sistine Chapel Ceiling created by Michelangelo. From there, we ventured onward to Rome’s greatest amphitheater, the Colosseum built in 72 A.D, as well as the Roman Forum built in the 2nd century BC; two of the oldest sites in Roman culture. We were educated on how Romans lived, more importantly what they did in their leisure time. The Colosseum could hold up to 55,000 people as deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights entertained above. The Roman Forum was a busy marketplace, and a religious center where people could worship deities.We also experienced a spectacular view of Rome at night. The twinking starlight and light up ancient structures were amazing.
On day three, we went to one of the best preserved ancient cities: Pompeii, which was ‘frozen-in-time’ when ash covered the city from the nearby erupting Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Here we learned so much about ancient culture; how market places were important, how roads paved the way for organization of where buildings were located, and even how ‘welcome’ signs etched in stone either spelled ‘welcome’ or ‘get lost’.On this day we were also fortunate to experience Italian pizza. The thick base layered with mounds of spices and tomato was unlike anything I’ve experienced at home.
A night ferry took us to Greece. We visited the Corinth canal, an isthmus that makes it easier for ships to pass through the country, rather than going around it. This area is also where the books Corinthians 1 and 2 of the bible were written. Day 5 brought us to Epidaurus, home of a magnificent theater used in the latter 4th century BC of the Peloponnese, which has almost perfect acoustics. By this, I mean that sitting 55 rows up, our tour guide dropped a penny, and it was unbelievable that you could hear the sound of it fall! From here, we ventured to Mycenae, home to one of Greece’s famous story characters: Agamemnon, from the Trojan War. From the years 1700-1100 BC, this hilltop inhabited palace was home to the elite class, and was situated high up to obscure its view from any spectators below. For lunch, Greek lamb was a favorite for many, while others enjoy a ‘less filling’ meal…a Greek salad.
Day 6 was a great day because it allotted time for sightseeing, and a lot of free-time. We started atop the Acropolis, built mid-5th century BC, which literally means: ‘city in the sky.’ This ancient site was not necessarily a city, but more so a religious center in honor of the Greek goddess Athena. The nearby area surrounding the Acropolis is used today for outdoor concerts. Lunch consisted of gyros, a famous Greek dish consisting of lamb/beef and tzatziki sauce rolled up in’tortilla-like’ dough. In the afternoon, we were fortunate enough to spend several hours in the heart of Athens. These hours were very beneficial in helping us discover Greek culture, and how it differs from Roman and American culture. The heart of Athens has a mixed variety of people, all trying to sell you things. Like many places in Europe, there are outside restaurants, where people conglomerate. From here, we ventured on to dinner, which was a special Greek treat for all of us. The magic word OPA! meaning HEY!, still rings in my ears after that night! We witnessed Greek dancing (even participated in some), saw some authentic Greek costumes, and experienced more delicious Greek food! Our next and final day in Greece, Day 7, we traveled to Delphi. Since the 6th century BC, the oracle at Delphi has been fortolled to many wanderes, and is noted in some of Shakespeare’s famous works such as ‘Oedipus Rex’, ‘Antigonue’, and even ‘Caesar’. Besides the oracle, the site is home to the Greek god, Apollo’s temple, god of healing, plague, and music.
Of the many things I learned on this trip, one importatnt aspect is that experiencing a new culture means you have to experience it firsthand, instead of reading about it. Youu may never have the urge then, to attain your own opinion about how people live culture. On a further note, going with other people on a journey to a foreign land a good idea. You’ll remeber alot more of what you saw, and who you saw it with. In the end, we were asked what we liked best about the trip, and I said that going with a group of great people was the best part. Without a group, I would have had less than half of the fun , nevertheless know which direction I was going.
So what are you waiting for? There’s diversity to be discovered. Experience new things! and while you’re at it, send me a postcard! Adios! Andeeo! Goodbye! Auf Wiedersehen! Arrivederci! Au Revoir!
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