Getting Oriented

4 Sep

We have placements people.  This week has been orientation, which is a formal way of saying the 10 of us have been sitting around a table with our coordinator talking about everything from which islands to see, to what areas in Athens we should frequent for dining/shopping/going out at night, to….oh right, how the school runs and what we’ll actually be doing.  On Monday night we had a barbecue at the president’s house.  Dr. Rupp is an American archeologist who has been president of the Foundation for the past few years.  He lives on campus, a convenient 1 minute walk away from Ladas (our house).  The bbq was a great chance to get to know some of the department heads and faculty members in an informal setting before the daily grind of school begins.  All of the faculty members I met are really nice, and many are native English speakers, which is comforting.

On Tuesday we received our placements.  I have been assigned to Psychico College Middle/High School (7-10 grades mostly), as well as the British college counseling office.  M-W-F I will be in the counseling office from 9-3:30pm, helping students with their personal statements and editing them until they are polished and perfect.  On T-Th I will be teaching English Lit to students in Psychico.  A little background: HAEF is a foundation comprised of two schools, Athens College and Psychico College.  Each begins in our equivalent to 1st grade and goes until 12th.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both schools is my current understanding.  In addition to the two schools, Psychico also has the IB program (same as the IB program in America) for 11th and 12th grade students who wish to take part.  There are two campuses, an elementary campus which houses the two elementary schools, and the main campus, which is home to the middle and high schools, the IB program, and a few more things, like a theater, a gym, and, among other things, my house.  Students in the two schools do not share classrooms, but they do share lunch periods, a library, and extracurricular activities, making it more than convenient for students in one school to have friends in the other.  As part of my two days working in Psychico, I will also be helping out with the IB program, especially after January 15th, when I will no longer be working in the counseling office (for the obvious reason that college application season ends by that time).  The best part of my placement?  The IB coordinator wants to stage a play and a musical, and thus one of my responsibilities is to make that happen!  Looks like my Rolodex of musicals and annoying habit of singing show tunes on end is finally paying off.

On Wednesday, we had “fellow to fellow”, which was basically all of us hanging out in Athens.  We walked a lot and ate a lot.  We had a great lunch in Plaka, and then walked around the little streets where I bought a few trinkets and eyed a few more items.  I’ve made a mental note of stores I’ll be re-visiting once I get paid, and am trying my best to hold off until then (top of my list–shoes.  Black strappy wedges to be specific.  In my defense, I need them, and there’s no point in arguing to the contrary).  We then walked all along the path around the bottom of the Acropolis, which is beautiful, topped off by Chocolat, a dessert and coffee bar that is to die for.  Seriously.  We sat on the rooftop, getting an incredible view of the city and the Acropolis, and shared decadent desserts ranging from tiramisu, to chocolate waffles and ice cream, to crepes, to mini doughnuts, to candied pears.  YUM YUM YUM.  YUM.  By the end of the meal, we were all lethargic and tired and ready for a nap.

Last night I had my first outdoor cinema experience.  In Greece, they have these outdoor rooftop movie theaters, where you sit outside, drink your beer and eat your popcorn, and watch an American movie (in English!  Congrats to Greece for believing in subtitles as opposed to dubbing).  The movie playing last night?  The Time Traveler’s Wife.  Was it good?  Absolutely not.  The experience?  Fantastic.  We all agreed that had we paid to see that movie at a regular movie theater, we would have felt ripped off and been royally pissed off.  But the atmosphere made it great.

And now for the best part of this post.  Drum roll please.  In a few hours I’ll be visiting my first Greek island!  The head of the English department at HAEF has a house on the island of Aegina, a small island close to Athens, and extended an invitation to one of the fellows.  The department head, Warren, said that the fellow could invite two more (space could unfortunately not permit for all 10 of us to come).  Names being picked out of a hat ensued, and I was selected!  We leave today at 5pm and return on Sunday.  It should be a very casual weekend, and I’m excited for the opportunity to get to know one of the faculty members better, not to mention the chance to have a weekend on a traditional and beautiful Greek island.  So the next time I post, I’ll be a tanned Grecian Goddess.  Perhaps a slight embellishment on my part, but why not shoot for the stars?


One Response to “Getting Oriented”

  1. Eileen Greenberg September 4, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    hey allyson – your dad emailed me the link to your blog. sounds like you are about to have one of the best years of your life! keep the posts coming – i feel like i’m reading a VERY entertaining magazine – you are a very talented young lady!
    p.s. don’t you have a credit card to get those wedges now? lol! xoxo eileen

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