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The seagulls fly west over blue oceans to seek refuge. The trees of varying sizes and shapes produce a calm, soothing air that layers the island with character and depth. The ocean’s waves barrel down toward the mainland. Like clockwork. The curved, circuitous mountains crowd the horizon line in pacific air. And the imposing sun seems to be never far from reach, as it showers Paros Island with warmth that beams a unique jovialness into the locals’ eyes.

I keep on telling myself that Paros Island isn’t a myth. That it is some sort of fantasy that I’ve been fever dreaming to on the edges of oceans that gods once sailed. But it’s real, and it’s in the intricacy of the island and the friendliness of the Greek people, who seem to be always accommodating and relentlessly kind to foreigners in distant lands.

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Posted by on in Greece: Paros Island


b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_9063.JPGLast semester was full of wonderful, funny people. It's weird being in Paros without them.. and I keep thinking I see them walking around the market, in the bakery, passing on a quad, writing in the Secret Cafe. Maybe it's because a part of them will never actually leave Paros. Or maybe I am just sleep deprived and overly nostalgic.

The past week we had some time to explore before the second summer semester of classes began, so Ming (another student from first semester) and I decided to do some island hopping. Per teacher recommendation, we visited the island of Amorgos first. It was quiet and tiny, but extremely beautiful. The locals all knew each other, so walking around town felt a little bit like crashing a family reunion. We visited the beaches all over the island, hiked to a monastery and to a fort through the treacherous wind, then investigated the eerily still streets of the main town. Windy roads spun through huge hills to get to each town - I'm almost positive that there were more goats than humans... On our last night, we discovered a cafe with an absolutely gorgeous view of the sunset.

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Posted by on in Japan: Kyoto

I can't believe the liftoff to Japan is almost here! I've already had to say some goodbyes even though everything still feels so surreal. I don't think I will believe I'm going to Japan until I'm actually there.
My days currently consist of making sure I have everything I need, freaking out that I don't, frantically searching for what I need, realizing it was in my hand, rinse, and repeat. 
So far the most important things to me that I am taking to Japan are:
1. Sketchbook
2. CIA Bright Orange Luggage Tags
3. Passport
4. Camera
5. iPod
6. Outlet Adapter
7. External Hard Drive
8. Bottles for Shampoo/Conditioner
9. Sunscreen
10. Antacid Medicine
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 If I miss these at baggage claim I will congratulate myself on having a lot of talent.

My sister hurt her ankle recently and can't walk very well so I have been going out to the barn everyday to help take care of her horse. Lots and lots of sister bonding time. And I think Josey maybe, a little bit, kinda, might have warmed up to me. Maybe. 
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We also celebrated Independence Day! I really like this holiday because our flag is pretty and fireworks are awesome! It's kinda a tradition to go see the fireworks at the High School I went to. I don't know why but fireworks are calming to me. Maybe because I like loud noise and bright colors.
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I agree with Lindsey (she went to Kyoto last year if you haven't seen her blog posts). watching 4th of July fireworks with Japan on the mind is a bit bizarre. Everyone I know who has gone abroad says that their nationality becomes a much bigger part of their lives when they are abroad than when they are in the country they're from. Even hanging out with foreign exchange students who are from other countries but studying abroad in America, I understand what they mean. I have a name tag that says "Stephanie Scott: United States" on it. Even though I only used it when I was in the United States, it was to identify me next to the person with "Italy" on their nametag. Celebrating Independence Day alongside many other Americans made me think about if I do end up traveling abroad a lot later in life or even living abroad, I know I will constantly tell people that I am American and growing up here does make it a huge part of my life, but I may end up becoming more like the people in the country I travel to/live in than people in the United States. Just some food for thought about the future that I have been thinking about a lot the past few years. 

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Posted by on in Japan: Kyoto

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Greetings from Japan!

After a crazy airport experience we landed in Kansai Airport near Osaka, Japan. Japan customs was way easy to get through (quite refreshing)...compared to Canada where I felt violated as they dug through my bags and spat random and strange questions at me. The trains they have here are incredible, they don't smell of urine and other odd smells as they do at home in Chicago. We went to our first booked hostel in Fukushima, Osaka and we were told they canceled our booking due to not showing the day before (bummer :( ...due to our canceled flight.) At this point my blood started to boil a bit! BUT, the people of Japan are the most accommodating and thoughtful beings I have ever met and are genuinely concerned for others well being. This being said, the cute and soft lady behind the counter at the hostel immediately started calling nearby hostels for us. Within 3 minutes she had a room lined up for me and my lady at a guest house that was only a 5 minute walk away.

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WARNING:
You will want to buy everything. And for some, it may be easy for you to do so. The prices in Greece are much lower then in America. I found burkinstons for 50 euros! Which are normally 100 in the U.S. And converse for only 15! It's insane.

The town is more exciting then you've ever imagined and the people are great. As for speaking English, it's a mix. A lot of our bus drivers spoke very little to none but it wasn't hard for them to reach out to other passengers and they translate.

SUGGESTION: learn as much Greek as you can before coming, I learned very little and it has already been such an aid to me and my group.

Oh yes, your group. I am traveling with some of the most different but extraordinary people I've ever met. We all come from different coasts and we each have such different personalities and unique mannerisms. 

SUGGESTION 2: if you can, come a few days earlier. It is such a bittersweet feeling leaving Athens tomorrow but I've heard amazing things about Paros.

I guess if I were you reading this there are certain things you want to know and part of me, eager to please wants to shed light on each and every experience Ive had this past day. But the other part of me just wants you to experience it all for the first time without expectations.
It's not what you expect, it is better.
I feel at home here, the energy is so pure and the people dress like they do back at home (I'm from Seattle)

ADVISE: night time they do dress up, I'm not talking stilettos but there is a good majority of people wearing dresses and fashion tops.

Also, I am very into crystals and their meanings, so if your a hippie like me, be pleased to know you are not alone in Greece they sell uncut stones of all sorts almost everywhere which has been both enlightening and wonderful.

I ask of you: when you see ancient ruins, take your pictures. But then my loves, marvel in the beauty. Experience in your mind, thousands of years ago men, either in gladiator form or peasants whatever you have to visualize to bring you there, placing the stone on top of each other and creating these temples for their gods. See it for what it is, realize you are walking in the same place men did 300-400-500 BC and that everything your looking at is so much more then just a worn down building.

Take that, and make that apart of your everyday here in Greece. It is all so much more then what first comes to mind. It is all just so much.

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