Friday September 3: Day 13 on Paros

Today was the first day that Sofia and I did chores together again after her being away for a week.  I must say that getting used to living and working with another person after settling into a solo routine is a funny process.  We each have our own styles/preferences for doing tasks (order of cleaning enclosures, ways of distributing food) as well as for cohabiting the common areas—for a few hours, it seemed like whenever I’d zig, she’d zag, etc.  Thankfully, we were back in sync shortly and spent the afternoon swapping stories and laughing :)

When I was back in London, I came across a saying that’s surprisingly effective for when people do things that frustrate you: “Bless their hearts.”  Try it when someone cuts you off on the highway, your roomie comes back drunk in the early hours of the morning and wakes you up by creating a ruckus, or when the line at the post office takes forever (if time stops in US post offices, it’s dead in Greek ones).  Seriously.  It works wonders.

I haven’t made any lists for a while, so here are a few.

Essential items to bring to Greece (also applicable for most study abroad programs):
  1. A pair of well broken-in Tevas or Chacos.  Comfy, easy to clean, and supportive, they will take you from town to the beach, up a mountain, and back again without so much as a blister.  Excellent.
  2. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat (I’m a fan of running hats because they are lightweight and sweat-wicking)
  3. An ipod containing Jack Johnson and Enrique Iglesias
  4. Euros
  5. A hiking-style daypack.  I use mine to carry everything from my computer to beach stuff to groceries.  I don’t know what I’d do without it.
  6.  A refillable water bottle (depending upon where in Greece you go).  Some places have potable water (like Paros) so I refill my Sigg instead of buying water constantly.  Many places don’t have potable water though so you have to purchase bottled (it’s cheaper here than in the US though).
  7. Lightweight, sweat-wicking clothes and a swimsuit or two
  8. US -> Continental Europe adaptors (two circular prongs) and 120v -> 220-240v converters if your appliances/chargers don’t have them built in (you’ll know if they do if it reads, “input: 100V-240V”).  All-in-one devices that adapt, convert, and have a surge protector are really handy.
  9. A grin for when Greek men can be a bit lecherous
  10. A healthy and open perspective.  Aka a willingness to try new food, experience new things, bridge the occasional language barrier, and to laugh at yourself when you’re an idiot.  Things definitely won’t go as planned, but that’s okay.  That’s when you a. learn something or b. have a funny story to tell later.

What to leave at home:
  1. Your cell phone.  It’s really not necessary unless you’re going to be living here.  If you can’t live without a phone, you have two options:
    • Bring an unlocked quad-band GSM phone from the States (Amazon is a great place to find them) and buy a SIM card when you get to your destination
    • Buy a phone abroad.  Europe mostly uses a pay-as-you-go model (aka no contracts) and phones can be dirt-cheap—most people in my London program got a phone for £3.95.  I’m not even kidding.  Whatever you do, DON’T bring your phone from back home with your current service, even if it has ‘international capabilities.’  Not only will you be charged exorbitant rates (upwards of $0.99 per minute), you also won’t have access to customer service or repairs if anything goes wrong (this happened to one of my flatmates in London).  Go with a local pay-as-you go provider, get cheap local calling rates and inexpensive international calls (some providers even give you free international minutes), and save yourself a lot of headache.  Plus, your new SIM card doubles as a scrapbook-friendly souvenir.  Bonus.
  2. Irreplaceable or expensive jewelry.  There are too many opportunities when traveling for things to get damaged, lost, or stolen, so don’t bother risking it.
  3. The kitchen sink.  As a lifelong Girl Scout, I’m a firm believer in the phrase, “be prepared.”  Being prepared, however, doesn’t mean bringing everything in your closet, just ‘in case’ you need it.  Trust me—if you absolutely need something for wherever you’re going, you’ll be able to find and buy it there.  When in doubt, under pack.  You’ll probably end up with exactly what you’ll actually use.
  4. Worries about looking like a tourist.  Are you honestly not going to take that awesome picture because some person that you will never see or think about again will think you’re a tourist?
  5. Preconceived notions.  People and places will always surprise you—give them a chance before you make judgments.  I promise you’ll have a better time if you do.
Things I miss most about the US (in no particular order)
  • American grocery stores
  • Being able to read food labels
  • Fuji apples
  • Down pillows
  • Family & friends
  • NPR
  • American money
  • Knowing exactly how much damage I’m doing to my bank account with each transaction
  • My church
  • Loose leaf tea
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This evening I hiked up the hill watch the sunset again.  The wind was so strong at the top that I swear I could have flown if I jumped.  Creation is amazing. 

Comments

  1. I'm gonna have to note these before my trip. Helpful list. Must buy Chacos and work on my grin for men.
    -Jessi

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