One Month Lookback List
Trip Start Sep 07, 2008
148Trip End Dec 09, 2008
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THINGS I SHOULD NOT HAVE SPENT SO MUCH TIME PREPARING
a. Reading too much about the Byzantine and Ottoman eras of Greek history
b. Reading too much about Greek Orthodoxy
c. Watching Netflix videos of Greece travel. I had to watch lots of repetitive stinkers to find the one that told me anything I didn't already know.
THINGS I SHOULD HAVE SPENT MORE TIME PREPARING
b. Physical conditioning
c. Reading more travel writing about Greece rather than guide books
d. Prepping my classes to the point that every handout and diagram could be bound into the coursepack reader. Printing and photocopying are possible here, they're just a bother.
e. A plan for what to do over fall break. Ugh. This is a blog entry unto itself.
f. Did I mention language?
THINGS I SPENT TIME PREPARING THAT PAID OFF
a. Burning CD-ROMS for each student containing all assignments, handouts, syllabi, artifacts, and research.
b. Handmaking gifts for all the staff in the program and postcards from home to give out to new friends.
c. Making my photo flip book. I printed pictures of my state, my university, my family, and my cats, and added captions in Greek to explain each one. Good to show new friends to get beyond "Hello, pleased to meet you."
d. Subscribing to the $5 per month Skype plan where Bear can call my landline in Athens from the computer in Oregon.
e. Prepping my courses to the point that each day is ready to go, but still flexible.
f. Joining Facebook and adding all the students in the program as friends before departure. This is where they talked to each other before they'd even met in person, where I found their pictures to learn all their faces and names, where they post and share pictures as they shoot them on the trip, and where they e-mail and livechat with me if they have question about classes.
g. Researching to find the best travel blog site, and learning how to use it before departure. Maintaining this blog is definitely a time commitment, especially with spotty internet in my apartment and loooong photo upload times, but it is absolutely worth it.
THINGS I SHOULD'VE PACKED BUT DIDN'T
a. More pens, paper, and folders. I didn't know the program does not supply these to the faculty.
b. My own laptop. Preferably a Mac. Too vital a lifeline to rely on a rattletrap loaner from the university.
c. A power strip with European plug holes. With 27 people using laptops in one room, power strips are at a premium.
d. Date book! I live and die by my date book in the States. Why did I think I wouldn't need one here?
e. Greek-English dictionary. It was just too heavy to pack. But now I wish I had it.
f. Cetaphil. I just don't think it's available in Greece. My skin laments.
g. Music. See "Clean Clothes/Hungry Professor" blog entry.
THINGS I'M GLAD I DID PACK
a. Almost everything in the "Hunting Stories" blog entry. The Chaco sandals, Mephisto Allrounder walking shoes, Coolmax tees, sunhat, prescription sunglasses, and compression bags have all been vital.
b. Really rugged water bottle
c. Expensive camera. I was uneasy when Bear decided to buy a much pricier camera than I intended, but it was by far the best money we spent.
d. Flash drive. My little thumb drive has been useful for transferring files from laptop to desktop, and as backup storage for photos.
e. Two day bags, one big and one little-purse-sized. Some museums and the Acropolis will not allow you to bring a full-sized bag on site.
THINGS I PACKED BUT DIDN'T NEED
a. Business cards
b. Coloring books and crayons. This was actually a great idea from a pair of students to help pass the time on the long cross-Atlantic flight. So I went to the special educational store in the mall to get four different coloring books. I didn't do any coloring on the plane, though. Maybe I will on the way home.
c. Audiobooks downloaded to my laptop. I love listening to audiobooks on my iPod to cut the silence in my apartment. So far I've finished Septimus Heap I (Magyk) and II (Flyte) and Sense & Sensibility since I've been in Greece. At that rate, I'll have listened to everything loaded onto my iPod by November, so I spent hours and hours downloading additional audiobooks onto my laptop. The problem I did not foresee is that the USB 1 port on Old Rattletrap is too slow to allow iTunes on the laptop to recognize my iPod. So I can charge the iPod, but not transfer new files onto it. :-(
a. PakSafe backpack. It's too small. It's too rigid. It's too heavy. I was in more danger of having my bag snatched during my layover in New York than I am in Greece. A backpack is a good thing to have here, but I realize now it probably wasn't necessary to have steel reinforcements.
b. Cheap carabiners. These are the clips used by climbers and hikers. I use them to hang my water bottle off my purse or belt loop, and sometimes to hook two of my bags together. I bought two cheapie plastic ones, and they disintegrated pretty much immediately. I wish I had spent more money to get good metal ones.
c. Steel cable and padlock. I read travel horror stories about airport thieves grabbing one bag while you bend over to retrieve your second bag from the luggage carousel. And other thieves who will take advantage of your jet lag to yank your bags out of the trunk of a taxi. So I got a steel cable. Completely unnecessary. I might feel differently if somebody had actually tried to take my bag, though. It's unnecessary until you need it, and then it's too late.
THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFOREHAND
a. We had a lot of drama around cell phones. I actually brought two but am not using either one. The program provided me with a (third) cell phone, but not for personal use. It's reallyfor the program staff and students to reach me. But surprisingly few students rented cell phones for themselves, so all the drama was moot.
b. It is worth it in the long run to pay the extra money to the highway robber airlines to check two bags. I only checked one bag, failing to leave myself enough room for souvenirs or even necessities bought on site (like I suspect I'll need at least one more sweater next month).
BEST ADVICE I GOT BEFORE DEPARTURE
a. "You already have within you everything you need." -Triathlete
b. "Don't die." -Bear