By Sarah Bainbridge
Last year Sophomore Eleni Kokinos and her family decided to put aside work and school in favor of traveling the world. Koninos said out of the nineteen countries she visited that Jordan was her favorite because of the friendly vibe and good food she found in the cities. Kokinos also found the form of government on Jordan interesting; they are one of the few countries that still has a legitimate king. Kokinos wore headscarves and long skirts in many of the countries she lived in because modesty for both genders is much more important than it is in the United States. Yet these differences in culture didn’t phase the intrepid explorer, and her little reminders of home such as Coca-Cola and Snickers bars kept her from longing for the U.S..
Throughout her travels, Kokinos’s family never used a translator and instead relied on their own wits to get around. Her mother began taking pictures of signs for bathrooms on her phone, so she could show them to locals instead of trying to pronounce the complicated words. Kokinos said, “South America and Africa were the easiest to get around in because in Africa they speak English and my parents speak fluent Spanish.” While in South America Kokinos took a four day trek to the famous Machu Picchu and arrived at the historical sight just in time to see the sun rise through the “Sun Gates”.
Along with intense hiking excursions, Kokinos dove eighteen meters into the ocean after receiving her recreational diving license. Despite these amazing experiences, she prefered the countries of Chile and Egypt where she had some of the best food and met some of the most interesting people. Egypt gave her the opportunity to venture into the heart of one of the Giza Pyramids to visit the sacred place where the pharaohs were buried, and in Chile she feasted on steaks and chocolate.
While Kokinos had many fun experiences, her family also had religious experiences that would not be possible anywhere else. For Easter her family went to Israel to participate in ceremonies that included floating in the dead sea; they also went to Buddhist temples and learned about the millions of gods in hindu traditions.
By the end of her trip Kokinos was tired of having nowhere to call home and was glad to make her way back to the U.S. Now that she has settled back into the daily routine of life, she feels bored and wishes she could have someone to talk about her experiences to,someone who would really understand. The cultural differences she experienced and the time she spent abroad has shaped her perspective on life and she hopes to travel somewhere new in the not too distant future.