Monday, July 6, 2015



Day 22 June 27th

       The East Mediterranean Security Studies (EMSS) course is officially over but there is still a crisis on the rise. Tourism, including our own, is still affluent and obvious as we were bused around the island of Santorini with several other tourist from various places of the globe. There were many buses in the line traveling up to these little Greek volcanic island villages all in hopes to boost their economies. The narrow walkways were bustling with people who were shopping, sight-seeing, directing tours, doing deliveries, why even a mule was extending local commerce amongst the tight passageways. The prospect of economic suffering does not seem to be possible from this perspective.
      There was ten of us at lunch that afternoon. And as we sat and engorged on the amazing Greek food for one of the last times; we watched Greek politicians in Parliament work through one of the toughest debates their country has seen to date. Lunch was over and we broke off into little groups

       After a beautiful day of browsing though and finishing up some souvenir shopping in the unique Santorini shops I found myself running low on Euros. I trotted down the hill to where I had seen some visitor services and saw several ATM machines. I got in line and tried my debit card several times not understanding why it was not giving me money. Then I went on to the next ATM that too would have me circle through the whole process and without pay. I thought perhaps my accounting was off and I had mistakenly overspent. Another woman seemed to have the same trouble as me so I went into an exchange store to find a third ATM. Third time is a charm, well at least for me it was. The reality is the ATM machines were being emptied as soon into the weekend as even Saturday afternoon. It was the beginning of a possible bank run in Greece. 
       Throughout the Greek bailout period there has been a cap on Greek's allowance to withdrawal funds in order to avoid a bank run. However, the ATMs still run out of euros for travellers and locals alike and there is less and less chance of the ATMs being refilled in Greece's current state of affairs.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Don't get too comfortable in your comfort zone.

This study abroad program really opened up my eyes. My expereince here, what I have learned, and the people I met will stay with me for a very long time. Thanks Prof. Vamvakas and everyone else who made this possible. I wouldn't have had my first abroad experience any different. I'm glad to have met and cross paths with all 10 participants. We all became close going through this experience together and I look forward to seeing most of you guys back on campus in the fall!
I was so hesitant about taking classes out of my major but I'm really glad I did. I learned a lot more about the world and the economy in a political platform. And living in Greece during this economic crisis was another experience within itself.
It never hurts to learn something new. I'm glad I took this chance outside of my comfort zone. I really surprised myself.

GROUP SELFIE! (we're missing Mary, Jessica, and Prof. Vamvakas though)

Another day, another beach

We definitely took advantage of the beautiful beaches in Crete. Here are a few picture of the many beaches we visited.

My favorite beach was Elafonisi beach. It had clear blue water and pink sand. It looked breathtaking.. I definitely see myself going back there.


The food we have been eating in Crete was absolutely amazing. Thanks to the women who cooked and prepared all meals for us! Everything was fresh and organic. They were exceptionally kind to my restriction of pork and prepared a separate dish for me. I am very thankful for that! 

My favorite dessert by far is the pie with custard filling. (Galaktoboureko, I think? .. At least that's what google think it is called!) It was very delicious.

I need to find this dessert somewhere back in Boston....


Pictures from our trip to the monastery and the mountain village!

I really was into taking pictures of the stairs on the mountain village.... they looked pretty cool to me.

We also visited a monastery and spoke to a nun that lived there. The monastery was very beautiful and the architecture of the building was amazing. It's located in the mountain village, which is very peaceful.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Touching Base

Touching Base

Day 17 June 22nd

        At the NAMFI Installation, the bus was checked in, we were walked into an auditorium, and received an informative lecture on the bases uses, operations, and contributors. After the lecture we walked back onto the bus and driven to the missile firing site.

On site we were encouraged to take photos and look around. Everything was explained geographically and how it related to the chart and graph descriptions of missile and droid deployment and in range marked targets.
       There were officers relaxing and a good amount had their families with them. Crete, Greece is an in-between station for most soldiers who are coming back from the Middle East stations or the more current post with vested interest of Djibouti, Somalia. Soldiers that are just passing through can find a space to relax here in Crete before returning home, maybe catch their breath as they transition from military lifestyle to day-to-day civilian life again. It was obvious some soldiers had their families meet them in Crete for a vacation/reunion, and Suda bay has some family oriented fun like a pirate ship geared for kids and parents at play.

       As a class some of us enjoyed "firsts" for Crete cuisine. The octopus in oil is out of this world and has been added to my list of favourites. Whenever I expand to something as unusual or off-putting as octopus it opens the door for another foodie adventure in the future. I did however have some concern about the environmental factors knowing that large amounts of chemical warfare weapons have been discharged in the fishing vicinity. But, like a any person I can turn a blind eye in the name of person interest, this was an interest of great food. As an environmentalist and a fairly health consciences person I have great concern for people who have a lifetime of secondary exposure to the chemicals in the sea through seafood consumption.
        Once we headed to the United States Naval Base described to us not as a base but as a Naval Support Activity. The language in the name alone suggests the strategic area is coveted and the activities that take place are quite covert. The term "Support Activity" also implies that being on a yearly lease continuously with Greece they need to be delicate in their presence to maintain their post. Also, our admission was our passport in exchange for an ID badge.
       The lecture we were given was very informative, you were left with the impression that we were told everything allowed to be told and that was a fair amount. He did open up for questions and did his best to answer as much as possible some topics he flat out said he could not discuss. All in all our guide was a very entertaining character and was as much interested in us as we were his tour.
      Suda Bay is a desired military hotspot and if the US Navy were not here in Crete, Crete would be vulnerable to all other large military contenders in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, African and Asian countries looking to branch their navy out. 

Night Together Watching The Sunset

On our last Tuesday together we watched the sunset at a beach called Blue. The lovely ladies that cook for us, Cleo, our bus driver, our Greek professor- Yahota, Professor Vamvakas, and all of the students from the program sat in a circle to enjoyed each others company and watch the scenery. 
Professor Yahota brought her precious daughter named Mariela. Even though Mariela and I couldn't really verbally communicate, I know she likes me. She had me push her on some swings in the restaurant. She also loved to sing 'Let It Go' with Katrina. She is so cute! 
Of course Mary captured the beauty of this EC EMSS outing on her trusty Ipad! 

While I captured these beauties on my Iphone. Check out Mary's's the real deal. 

I am overwhelmingly grateful for the people I have met on this trip. Sitting around laughing, talking, and eating with them, all while watching the breathtaking views, made me realize just how lucky I am. I am very thankful for the two EC EMSSP professors who have been truly the 'best' educators.

Thank you Professor Yahota for your passion for three hours of Greek each day but mostly your patience and understanding. Thank you Professor Vamvakas for furthering my understanding of the Mediterranean and international relations, for your wise advice, and for a trip I will never forget.