The Best Trip of Your Life?

What could be the best trip of your life? What could be the trip that has the perfect balance between guided tours and free time? What could be the trip that changes your outlook on the world?

The 2011 Greece and Turkey January Term was that trip. Led by Professor Susan Bloom, Chair of the Art and Art History Department at McDaniel, Bloom leads a January Term every year to a different part of the world. She gives students a chance to experience life abroad, especially those who do not have time to spend a full semester in a foreign country. “It was my first time out of the country,” said senior BethAnn Fusco. “I didn’t know I could get along with my sister for 12 days but I did.”

One of the best aspects of the trip is that it gets better as it goes along. Bloom assigns a number to each individual that he or she must periodically call out to be accounted for. Bloom also brings along her husband, Calvin, and he makes it a priority to ensure that no one gets left behind.

In Greece, one sees the majestic city of Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were held; the stunning sites and sanctuaries of Delphi, where the famed Oracle resided, featured in the movie ‘300’; Athens, the capital and largest city in Greece, home to the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, not to mention various amphitheaters, to name just a few of the mind-blowing sites.

A voyage like this can affect you for the rest of your life. “The trip was the raddest time of my life,” emphasized senior Jamie De Atley. “It was life-changing, inspirational, and eye-opening. I want to move to Athens tomorrow.” On a similar note, senior Courtney Hitchcock mentions from the front lines that the “Jan Term opened my eyes to the world. S’agapo!”

In Ephesus, Greece students dined in a luxurious hair-cloth Bedouin tent in which they ate pancakes. Later on they experienced an ancient food dinner in Athens (without a fork), meanwhile dodging the many stray dogs roaming the city.

One gets to see the amazing views as the bus treks along the coastlines, experience a variety of delicious food and drink, and stay in comfortable hotels situated in the middle of the towns and cities that are visited. Better yet, one is able to get a first-hand experience of the surrounding environment and culture with the help of a professional tour guide leading the way.

“It was the best experience of my life,” sophomore Ariel Cangemi observed. “I’m happy I got to meet some people I usually don’t hang out with. I’m so glad I went on it.”

In Turkey, a few of the delights are the town of Troy, the pivot of Homer’s Iliad and the sight of the decade-long Trojan War. Students viewed an exact replica of the Trojan Horse and took a gondola ride to the top of a Turkish mountainside and an exciting boat ride from the Europe side of Turkey to the Asia side of Turkey. The Turkish tour guide warmly referred to the students as his “cousins” to emphasize his friendliness.

Senior Matt Clise enjoyed Turkey as much as anyone. “I had so much fun in Turkey that I’m going back in a few days,” he said. “I’ll be in Turkey over Spring Break.”

Saving the best for last, the trip ended in Istanbul, Turkey, the only city in the world to reside on two continents (Europe and Asia). Here, students experience the hectic city life of the Grand Bazaar, the magnificent Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and end with a spectacular Oriental show and dinner. Students were called up to the stage to dance and perform in front of audience members from many nations across the globe.

Once back on campus, students choose their best and favorite pictures and mount them for viewing. They are on then put on display in Ensor Lounge.

For the quintessential trip of a lifetime, freshman Emma Hanisch provides fitting concluding thoughts: “The Greece and Turkey trip was seriously amazing. There aren’t enough words to describe how wonderful it was. Everyone took ridiculous amounts of pictures of EVERYTHING! I didn’t know anyone when we left, but I came back with a group of great friends. Also, Sue Bloom is the best!”