Our last day in Greece together—how is this even possible? It seems like it was only a few days ago that we had our “Welcome Dinner” at Tsi Tsi’s and discovered the best bakery in the world with mountains of decadent pastries, ice cream and anything else you could ever want. We all woke up with heavy hearts for class at 10 AM (Paul finally caved in and pushed class back 30 minutes). In class, as we always do, we discussed random topics and told our stories of what we’ll miss the most. Our final topic of the class was about the welfare state in Greece: victim or villain? There is no concrete answer to this question, because it is both the culprit and the wounded. From what I have read and have observed, the crisis was salient in strengthening the welfare state. Without the economy hitting rock bottom, the Greeks would have continued with their imprudent and careless spending and borrowing with lack of accountability. We had also discussed how the welfare state could be viewed as hurting more than it helped with it being too generous regarding benefits. In Greece, you can retire as early as age 45 and still receive benefits. This is insane compared to America where the earliest age you can receive social security benefits is 62. Every day it becomes more and more prevalent why Greece is in such a disastrous economic state.
After class, a few of us had lunch at The Big Spoon and reminisced over our favorite memories from our three weeks in Athens. We had planned to go to the beach afterward, but the weather had other plans, so we had a chance to relax before our “Farewell Dinner” downtown. I decided to go to the gym and work out for an hour and while I was running, I replayed all of my favorite memories from the trip in my head: discovering our beach in Artemida, all of us dancing with Paul at one in the morning, Skylar getting locked in her room in Olympia, gazing in awe of the views that the mountains in Greece have to offer… I could go on and on. We then all took our last bus and metro ride downtown to meet the group for dinner. We might have gotten a little lost on the way to dinner, but we eventually made it and wow, the restaurant was gorgeous and, of course, it had one of Greece’s famous breathtaking views. We were showered with traditional Greek appetizers, bread and hospitality. The food was decadent. The best part of the dinner was when Marshall told the waiter that it was Paul’s birthday, and when they brought out a celebratory slice of cake, Paul was so confused. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of his face! Priceless.
A group of us then left from dinner to my favorite spot in all of Athens: Mar’s Hill. Everyone has their happy place, where all their cares in the world flee and everything seems perfect in the time that you spend at that place; Mar’s Hill is that spot for me and I’m sure I can speak for some other Civics when I say that. The view left me speechless. I started to tear up thinking about how much I’d miss all the beautiful aspects of Greece, and especially the stray cats (I’m not joking about this, I love cats). We took a cab home and everyone in my apartment made a pact that we would come back to our happy place together in the future. Saying goodbye to Greece won’t be easy, but I know that I’ll be back one day.