If you have ever wanted to study abroad, do it. I promise you will regret it if you don’t. I went to Athens, Greece, with College Year in Athens (CYA) to take a travel writing course (LIT 348) this summer. This greatly excited me as an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing, and I saw this as an opportunity to learn and grow immensely as a writer. And that is precisely what I did throughout my four-week course.
Our course was focused on writing from a traveler’s perspective, not in a touristic way. There is a big difference between the tourist and the traveler. The difference lies in the purpose of the trip, entertainment versus education. A tourist is scratching the surface level of a place, looking for activities and the best sites to see. A traveler wants to see through looking glass and be immersed in the culture of the locals that surrounds them. Travelers come to a foreign territory willing to be altered by a new and unknown place. Writing facilitates changes that limit who we are and how we see the world.
I took this new knowledge with me and began my writing journey as a travel writer. My mission was to write from the lens of a traveler. Throughout my writing journey, I found a sense of safety and independence within my creativity. I learned to write stories through my authentic connections with the people around me.
One of our assignments was to write a destination article about a place we have visited in Greece and how we felt being there. I wrote about Poros, Greece, especially one of the beaches on the island called Kalani Beach. This was the place where I found comfort, serenity and, later on, inspiration. Captain Beach Bar on Kanali Beach was my escape from reality, where I could dive into a book and journal and be in my world. I would pack my beach bag with my journal and my current read almost every day and head over to the beach. Letting the smell of the sea envelop me, I became immersed in the local town of Poros. Here is a short passage from my destination article that perfectly describes the feelings I have depicted:
“The familiar melody of a homey environment resonates within me as I recline, listening to the soothing symphony of crashing waves. The sea breeze caresses my face, carrying a hint of salt and refreshing coolness on this hot summer day. I find comfort in knowing that this is a place where I can unequivocally be myself. An atmosphere that provides warmth, enveloping me in a big, comforting hug. Judgements and high expectations are absent, allowing me to immerse myself in the peace and independence I seek, embracing the joy of spending a moment alone.”
Kanali Beach essentially became my home away from home. I went so much that it became familiar, and I learned to feel 100% comfortable there. The hostess, Jenni, and I formed an incredible connection. I would walk onto Kanali Beach, and Jenni would see me and wave me over, her radiant smile lighting up her tanned face. She welcomes me back as if she has been awaiting my return, and her excitement is recognizable.
Captains Beach Bar and Restaurant on Kanali Beach represented more than just a destination for me. It has become a cherished haven that symbolizes comfort, peace and relaxation. This beach holds a special place in my heart, as I am thankful for finding solace and tranquility in the comfort of their chairs.
As I look back and reflect on my time in Greece, I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. My study abroad experience was remarkable. Greece is one of the most fascinating countries I have ever visited; it is captivating. My travel writing course was indeed an incredible learning experience. I gained independence, peace and serenity during my time in Poros, Greece. Learning to live by spending time alone is beautiful. I left Greece with an open mind, an improved set of writing skills and an immense love for Greek culture. Once again, if you want to study abroad, whether it be for a semester or in the summer, don’t hesitate to apply and do it!