Prelude to Greece

nostalgia | noun | no-stal-juh
From nóst a return home + –algia pain (Greek)
1. A wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a setimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time

— Dictionary.com, nostalgia

Every time I pass by 306 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A. I still recall the conversation I had with a friend that would change my undergraduate experience. We met at what was then Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream & Sandwich Cafe to discuss our summer plans. My plans to visit Ireland for modern anthropological field work had just fallen through due to a lack of funding and he was interested in selling me on going to Greece with him as part of the College of Charleston Summer in Greece Program. By the time we were half-way through our sandwiches, I was already convinced that I should join the program. Now, 306 King Street is occupied by Taziki’s, an inauthentic Greek themed chain-restaurant, the irony is essentially palpable.

Following our conversation, I rushed back to my dorm to email the professor in charge of the program, Dr. Morris. Within moments, I received an email saying I was signed up for a trip to Greece during May. Later, I came to find out that the email just before mine was a student dropping out of the program; it seems Tyche (the Greek goddess of luck) was on my side. Not only did Tyche provide me with an alternative program to participate in over the first part of my summer, but a field school in Irish archaeology which I could use to obtain course credit for through the College of Charleston. I was ecstatic to find out I could get credit for this field school since I was more interested in archaeology than the modern anthropology research. It seemed my situation for the summer had reversed.

The conversations with my friend and Dr. Morris was followed by several meetings with other students participating in the program. These meetings acted as ice-breakers and general guideline meetings about what to expect in Greece. Between these meetings, I talked with the travel agent that was making our arrangements as part of the program to arrange my own travel from Athens to Dublin instead of back to the United States. Before long, I was on a flight from Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. to Athens, Greece. It so happens that this was a 12 hour flight during which time I was stuck in the middle seat with two people asleep on both sides of me after drinking two large glasses of water. This might have been a great time to learn to be assertive and wake-up someone, anyone on either side, to let me out so I could use the bathroom. Instead, I just sat there with a glazed-over look, my friend mentioned I looked spaced out, unable to sleep listening to “Umbrella” by Rihanna on repeat through the headphones provided by the stewardess. How fortuitous the chorus of the song shortens “umbrella” to “ella” a cognate for Hellas/Greece or, spelled “ela” , meaning “to come.”

Next stop, Athens.

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Author: johnwallx

NC State University PhD Student in Earth Science with a masters in Geographic Information Systems.

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