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Carpe Diem, Study Abroad

A Modern Odyssey

Simone Johnson, Columnist

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Literature and music professor Dr. Nicholas Catalano will lead Pace students on an 11 day travel course to Greece in late May.

“Greece has been a huge part of my life,” said Catalano, who fell in love with classical Greece in college and was the writer and producer for Around the World: Greece, an hour long program televised on the Discovery and Travel channels in 1990.

The travel course veteran has spoken before the Greek Parliament and led “Greece: A Modern Odyssey,” for 32 years, the longest-running travel course in the United States.

The course offers students the opportunity to learn about Greek literature, history, astronomy, architecture, and politics. As students prepare to embark on this journey, textbooks turn into real life when the group first explores Athens, to relive classical Grecian lifestyles in a modern way.

Some stops include the Acropolis, which Catalano described as the pride of Athens, the National Archeological Museum, the Temple of Zeus, the Greek Isles, and a country strongly connected with Greece’s identity, Turkey.

“Greece had four hundred years of Turkish occupation, so there is a lot of Turkish influence,” Catalano said. “There are currently 3,000 excavations of Greek ruins on the west coast of Turkey, which used to be a part of classical Greece.”

Perhaps one of the most appealing parts of the trip is the four-day Louis Hellenic Cruise to the Greek Isles and Turkey, with stops in Ephesus, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Patmos.

Many of the islands belonging to the Land of the Gods have deep roots that connect to Greek mythology, important in the country’s history; Eos and the goddess of the Dawn, Santorini and the legend of Atlantis, and Delos – the birth place of Apollo, Zeus’ son. Stories and culture are preserved in and around the landscape, which make for one incredible learning experience.

“The Parthenon is a fusion of sculpture and myth. The building exudes so much force,” said Catalano, describing what resonates with him from more than two decades of traveling to Greece. “I enjoy Plaka too, it’s a huge section devoted to outdoor restaurants, clubs, and boutiques.”

“Greece: A Modern Odyssey” has long been changing students’ lives.

“I even had parents calling me asking, ‘what did you do to my son? He was majoring in accounting and now he’s majoring in philosophy,’” Catalano said.

Dr. Catalano plans on leading the odyssey again in 2015.

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