By Lauren Drang
When it comes to my feelings about this trip, I think I was more anxious in preparation than I am now on the island. I was a nervous wreck the few days before leaving. I thought I would forget so many things and be stuck spending so much money fixing that forgetfulness. But that’s not the case. Instead, I feel at peace here. The climate is about the same as home, the sun sets and rises at the same time, so there were no great shocks when arriving here. Most of the time, I forget I am thousands of miles from home because I feel so comfortable walking these streets. The only times I remember are when we are driving through the countryside on long, winding roads with mountains both ways and the Aegean Sea ahead of us. I remember when we are eating mouthwatering, authentic meals on the coastline, and we take pictures of the sun going down the horizon. I remember when I speak with the wonderful shop owners and learn everything there is to know about Paros history. It seems funny that after all the effort it took to get here, the work here feels effortless (except for the perpetual sweating).
I am in love with this island and cannot believe we have been here for over a week already. In some ways, it feels like we just got here, but in others, I feel I have been here for weeks. Time goes by so quickly, and so many memories have already been made. I think there are already 500+ photos on my phone and even more in our group chat. I don’t think Thomas and Albert could have picked a better group. We work so well together that it never feels like work, which is the best thing.
One thing I feel has changed since I’ve been here is my willingness to be uncomfortable. I am anxious about most things, so when it comes to *trying* new things, I tend to say, “oh, probably not today,” and then never go back to try again. But since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to say Yes. When someone asks me if I’d like to try part of their meal, I’d never order myself, “Yes.” When our interview turns into a mini hike up a weedy mountain trail, “uh, sure!” When we went to Naoussa, and the group started climbing on these gigantic rocks, I said, “why not?!” (I was in sandals, by the way… but no injuries occurred!). My point here is, that you never know what adventures and amazing views you might miss if you don’t climb up that rock. And if you don’t like the food or fall a little, you were only uncomfortable for a short time. Embrace the unfamiliar for the chance to experience something amazing, and I sure have.