Greece – The Low Down Adventure
Athens. The birthplace of Western civ – and my love of travel. It’s also the birthplace of RAD AND HUNGRY, long before I knew it.
I spent a semester abroad in Athens during my junior year in college. Before then, it never occurred to me that I could travel anywhere other than Korea. Summers spent in Korea were always amazing – I geeked out and fed my stationery obsession, I’d hit up as many coffee shops as possible in a day, and I loved hanging out with my grandfather and extended family. My sister and brother chose to study in Korea. I think my parents assumed that I’d do the same – but I didn’t.
I majored in philosophy and my concentration was Ethics, focused primarily on Plato. My college had a ton of established exchange programs with colleges and universities all over the world. Expect for – you name it – Greece. Still, I ended up selecting a college there that offered philosophy classes all focused on Aristotle. It was destined that I journey to Athens.
But as it turned out, my time in Greece wasn’t life-changing because of my college OR classes. It was transformative because it was the first time I traveled by myself – forced to figure shit out on my own, on the spot. During the last week of carnival, I lined up a trip to Mykonos with a few classmates. They all cancelled last minute. I didn’t care – I got on a ferry and headed to Mykonos solo.
When I arrived, I quickly discovered there was no rooms available. Party people had taken over the entire island. So I walked. And walked and walked. An hour later, I spotted a man being followed by two people who were obviously tourists. I stopped him and asked if he ran a hotel. He did. Did he have any rooms available for one? Jorge told me to wait for him. He returned on a scooter and explained that he had a room that wasn’t quite finished because it was new construction. Seconds later I was whisked away by Jorge and his scooter. It all worked out. I returned to Athens transformed.
During that semester, when someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I said I wanted to open a company where I traveled for work. No specifics, nothin’ concrete mapped out. But there it was – the heart of RAD AND HUNGRY, born in Greece.
It’s strange how much my body reacted to Greece – on a visceral level – during our sourcing trip for the STMT X Greece Kit. When I lived in Athens, I didn’t connect with the people, the food, the culture… Yes, I appreciated Aristotle and all the archeological sites I visited. But it never clicked.
This time around, we went up to the Acropolis and I felt a sense of peace to the core that I rarely ever feel. (How did I never feel this when attending weekly classes at the Acropolis?!). We stuffed ourselves with the most amazing food. We connected with so many people.
My heart was full – I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when walking around my old hood, Kolonaki. Before leaving on our trip, I couldn’t remember the name of the street I lived on. In Athens I found it as soon as I opened a map. We stumbled across the former site of the college I attended by chance. It’s as if the journey was mapped out for me in advance. Homecoming.