Out of the Classroom and into the Palaces

Hello, I am Kalei, I study Anthropology at Wellesley University, but my new home for this semester is Athens, and CYA!  On my second week in Greece, CYA set off on an academic field trip to the legendary island of Crete located in the Eastern Mediterranean, and I want to tell you all about it.

Crete was once the center of Minoan civilization and is now a popular tourist destination- this past weekend, CYA got to discover why!  The 5-day trip was informative, well-organized, and most of all – FUN! From Ancient Minoan Culture to World War II History, this field trip was a great way to kick off a semester of learning about history while actually standing near it, in it, or on it! We basically checked off everything you could want out of an adventure -from a tour of an ancient palace to a hike from the summits to the sea.

This field trip was an academic one. We followed exciting on-site classes and tours based on our courses here at CYA. On top of this, however, we had plenty of free time for swimming, eating (lots), talking to locals, shopping, and picture taking. Our first stop was the palace of Knossos, where my peers and I got to see first-hand what our powerpoints and classes have presented to us. I think I can say with certainty that one of the most glorious sunsets I’ve ever seen was the explosions of colors pictured below on our first night in Heraklion.Following this Cretan beauty, the remainder of the trip was infinitely interesting (especially for archaeology nerds like myself). The assortment of artifacts in each museum showcased the complex history of Crete. The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion appealed to those who like the glittery as well as those who find interest in the grim; this museum had it all.  

Around the bend and up into the foothills, we embarked on a journey down into the Skotino Cave. Many of us had seen pictures of this landmark prior to our departure and our professors provided us with on-site context before entering the mouth of the cave; however, being there in person with the large dark mass before us was different from anything I could have imagined. I think this experience is one that can sum up a lot about what makes CYA special. Learning, context, and photographs are always helpful; however, in the effort to fully understand the religious cave, nothing compares to looking down into the black tunnel and feeling the dampness on your skin. It is true of any process that first hand experience is integral to one’s success. CYA provides students with this opportunity for success, while we are making memories with our new friends, surrounded by millenia old stalagmites and stalactites.

All in all, the Crete trip was a success. We also visited a World War II memorial cemetery, the museum of Eleftherna, the Arkadi Monastery, the island of Spinalonga, and enjoyed a lovely hike through the Imbros gorge. The CYA experience is truly so unique, and I think I can speak for most of the students when I say I can’t wait for what the rest of the semester brings.

Kalei Oliver

Kalei Oliver is a Fall '18 CYA student and an intern for the CYA MediaLab. She is a junior at Wellesley College. Kalei studies Anthropology with a focus in South American Indigenous Archaeology as well as a minor in Cinema and Media Studies.

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