Greece has been much in the headlines of late, and not because of its world class antiquities, pristine beaches or delectable cuisine. Greece’s economic crisis of the past six years and its near expulsion from the European Union have left Americans nervous about visiting. The media coverage depicting riots in Syntagma Square paint a picture of a country on the brink of ruin. This is why our journey to Greece with Go Learn at this particular moment was so important. We traveled to this country to discover its classical roots, and in turn gained contemporary understanding of how the recent economic challenges have impacted both the individuals and the industries of this complex country.
A few myth and media busters to allay the concerns of anyone considering travel to Greece:
- It is safe—at least, as safe as anywhere is these days.
- Getting money from an ATM is not an issue.
- Everything is still open, and with tourism down, so too were prices and crowds, making it an ideal time to visit.
- The riots we see through media are contained in the span of a square roughly equal to the U’s Marriott Library plaza and while we as visitors would not want to be in the middle of one, they are contained to this space and easily avoidable. The only action we witnessed near the square was the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament.
- The Greek people and economy rely heavily on tourism and they are happy to have us visit!
- I feel safer in the center of Athens than I do in downtown Salt Lake City at night.
I write these opening remarks only because I was met with an alarming number of comments about safety prior to leaving. Having studied, lived and worked in Europe for over a decade, I had never received so many fearful remarks about our travel than this summer. That being said, we had an amazing, and safe odyssey and I have tried to capture some of the highlights in the entries to come. Many thanks to a delightful and intrepid group of adventurers for making this experience rich in learning and laughter and greatest thanks of all to our fearless leader and story teller Randy Stewart for taking us along on this journey!
-Taunya Dressler, Assistant Dean, College of Humanities, global nomad and blogger extraordinaire