When it rains, it hails

At least in Athens it does. Yesterday I went to get some lunch after taking a break from cutting down Arabic interviews for an upcoming piece on the refugee crisis on the mainland of Greece. I went to McDonald’s. Yeah, I said it. I would say something about how each McDonald’s in a different country has it’s own feel and I wanted to see what it was like…but I passed over the “Greek Mac” and went for a quarter-pounder with cheese and fries. I’ve eaten a lot of Greek food, so judge away, I’ll be alright.

On the way back, the Greek gods seemingly wanted to punish me for my American lunch choice, and it started raining. I was not prepared for this in the slightest, so I took shelter under the library a few blocks from our hotel. At first I was pissed because my shoes were ruined and my pants were soaked through, but as I looked out on the square I realized I actually had a great view. As the good little videographer I am, I took a time-lapse video which you can see here, as well as a riveting close-up on the hail that was coming down with the rain. What started out as a negative ended up being a pretty cool experience.

That’s starting to happen a lot on this trip. On Saturday, I was excited for the whole group to visit an island for a beach day, which we missed out on in Thessaloniki because of the rain. It started out looking like a disaster, as we struggled to get ferry tickets and were looking at a lot of cloud cover. When we got to the shore, the beach we could see looked meager to say the least. But after consulting some maps and following Ellie’s leadership, we made it to a really nice beach and had a great day. I was so happy about the sun coming out that I soaked it in probably a little too much and have a nasty sunburn. But guess what? That burn is going to be a tan (and possibly skin cancer down the line but we’ll ignore that for the sake of this analogy). Negative to positive.

On Sunday I had decided to wake up early to go to a mass with Bridget. I woke up feeling like every bit of my skin was on fire and really regretted the decision. But once we got there that regret flew off me like a piece of peeling skin. The church was gorgeous, and the priests were decked out in ridiculously elegant clothes and had extravagant facial hair to match it. There was a chorus of about twenty men singing ancient hymns, and it wasn’t hard for me to imagine Greeks having mass hundreds of years ago.

It’s around this time that everyone starts to get stressed out, including me. Students start chirping me that I don’t do anything, deadlines are being imposed and everyone’s realizing that we only have single-digit days left in this great place and they might not get to fully experience it. While my main job is to do a head count to 19, I also like to make sure everyone gets a positive experience out of this trip, and doesn’t come away seeing it as a wholly stressful time or worse, a waste of time. I’m still friends with people I grew close with on these trips (shoutout to commenter Gina-Maria), I’m living with my roommate from my first time as a TA and I still show the work I did abroad to employers and they’re always usually impressed. It probably doesn’t sound great coming from me because I don’t have to write stories like the students do, but I was in their shoes not too long ago and I know how it feels. To complete the shitty analogy, the burn will wear off and everyone will probably be craving the Greek sun once we’re back in our normal lives for a little while. So let’s put on some sunscreen and get through this week.


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