Just some things I thought of. I know everyone is excited to be leaving so shortly and busy cramming information for travel. But here is some last minute advice (and I promise I will keep it concise so you can remember it all) – it will probably be my last post before the trip. Good Luck on Finals everyone and have a great week off!!!
#1 Business Cards. Take one from every hotel we stay at. If you ever get lost or separated from the group, take a cab, the metro, or something back to the hotel. If you have the card, it will just be that much easier to describe it to the driver, especially with the language barrier.
#2 Buy Everything. You never know when you will return. One thing I learned from India is not
to pass up on what could truly be once in a lifetime souvenirs or experiences. If you are worried about not having enough room in your suitcase, you can always leave clothes or something else behind that are easily replaceable in the US (Yes, I did do that in India). Also, I know I would be willing to cram anyone’s stuff into my suitcase if I have extra room, and I am sure many other people will be too. Lastly, make sure you remember to buy something for family/friends at home who have helped make this trip possible (I have about 30 people on my list already)
#3 Haggle. Going along with buying everything, don’t always take the price that it set. I'm not sure how this will work in a foreign country, but a lot of this depends on the venue (it is probably never appropriate in a commercial mall, but for street vendors it is generally acceptable). I am expecting that some vendors will strategically raise prices for eager tourists, so there is no harm in working them down to what they would charge normally. Generally, I start with 1/3 of the price they ask, and will compromise for 1/2 or 2/3, but if you have success with more extreme techniques, by all means go for it. This is also why it is good to be quick with exchange rates.
#4 Make Friends. Obviously this applies to each of us on the trip. In many ways, no one else but our group will be able to relate the experiences we have. However, I equally encourage the same with people who actually live in Greece and Turkey. Of course some people want to scam the naive tourist, but even more will just be excited to meet us. I am still Facebook friends with many of the people I met in India, and I hope to meet new people in Greece and Turkey as well.
#5 Have fun. I figured it was a good place to end on. As much as this trip is a class, some of the biggest opportunities for learning experiences will just come through immersing yourself into the culture and seeing everything you have looked forward to. We have already done most of the academic work (research paper, preparing handouts), now it’s just time to relax. Take pictures of everything. Write everything down in your journal. Eat everything. And do everything – within reason =)
All in all, it will be a successful trip as long as everyone returns on the plane to the United States. Relative to that, most things are insignificant. Just don’t get arrested, lose your passport, or anything else that would jeopardize our flight home.