APO in Crete!
Above is a picture of the Saronic Gulf at a beach at Sounion
Last semester, I was preparing for studying abroad which meant having two jobs and not a lot of other time for other things. This meant slacking a little bit when it came to APO. So here, I am over 10,000 miles away writing blogs for all of you and because I leave for a week on the island of Crete I am going to condense it all into one, so bear with me!
I was very apprehensive about studying abroad. It is a lot time to go somewhere, get there and then want to be at home. Penn state has become my home and APO my family within the larger Penn State community. However, my friends, family and everything I have ever known are thousands of miles away. I have begun to call Athens home.
I had always thought that home was where my friends and family were but I have been proved incredibly wrong. Every day I wake up; go out on my balcony to see the Mediterranean Sea glimmering off in the distance. Then I order a coffee in a language that was nothing but a complex foreign series of the Greek letters upon my arrival, which now have become second nature to speak in. With my coffee in hand I walk a short five minutes to my school catching a glimpse of the acropolis with the Parthenon perched on top off in the distance looming over the modern city of Athens. On the weekends, I walk down to Syntagma, the center of Athens, and pass the Parliament building, grab a souvlaki or a gyro at my favorite place or take a trip somewhere in Greece for class. The sun shines down and with a smile on my face I realize that my friends and family may be far away but they will always be there or a WhatsApp message away and it is quite possible that not only am I the happiest I have ever been but I have found a place that has stolen my heart and like I said is now my home.
APO teaches us so many things beyond leadership, friendship and service that I have come to realize over the past few months. I have made seven new incredible friends in the people I take classes and travel around Greece with. I have become even more independent and more aware of things, just to name a few.
I also think that APO teaches us or shows us to take advantage of opportunities and make the best of them. Studying abroad is one of the best decisions I have made in my collegiate career along with joining Alpha Phi Omega and one of the best opportunities I have been given. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, I cannot say it enough…do it! Yes, there are times that are hard like THON weekend or when I see what all my friends and brothers are doing but the things that you will learn about the city you live in, the cities you visit, about yourself, about others and their lives will have a lifelong impact on you. Study abroad is really an extension of everything we value and promote as a fraternity and it is really cool to see.
Come a month from now I will make the trek thousands of miles “home.” I will see my parents, sister, friends, and life will go on and I will return to Happy Valley in June, but I will always have Athens as a place to call home.
P.S. For those of you I haven’t met, welcome to APO and I can’t wait to meet you all J
Sarah at Red Beach in Santorini
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