By Arisa Dhiensiri

Today we had a jam-packed day filled with museum tours, orientation, a nice welcome dinner and lots of walking. We started the day by eating breakfast at Altius Hotel before heading over to the Cyprus Archaeological Museum. The museum ended up only being a ten-minute walk from the hotel but in the heat it felt like miles. When we got to the museum we were separated into two groups and led on a tour guide. The museum houses the largest collection of Cypriot Antiquities in the world and it was really fascinating to learn about the history of Cyprus. Cyprus, being in the middle of the Mediterranean, is a cross section for so many different empires such as the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Persian, as well as having really strong Greek roots and influences. The tour guide explained how Cypriot art from specific time periods reflected the empire Cyprus was a part of at the time.

All of us at the Cyprus Archaeological Museum

After the museum tour we walked to the Old City of Nicosia and we were able to see the divide between North Nicosia and South Nicosia. Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world, the North being Turkish occupied, and the South as part of the European Union. The Green Line is No Man’s Land, and is the distinction between North and South. Directly around the border is the old town, Nicosia’s historic center. Old City is enclosed by Venetian Walls and a little removed from New City, Nicosia’s more modern side. The streets in old town are cobblestone and filled with beautiful historic churches and buildings that are very reminiscent of Greece.

A church in Old Town

Exploring Old Town

For lunch we were able to walk around Ledras Street in the old city. Ledras Street is kind of like LA’s Abbot Kinney, super cute and chic, usually where people go to hangout, and filled with picturesque cafes and restaurants. The tour guide from the Museum came with us to old town to explain the buildings and give some restaurant recommendations that I’m excited to try later on.

Ledras Street

After getting to know Nicosia, we walked to the University to start our orientation and get a campus tour. The university was mostly empty because there aren’t that many students taking classes over the summer. Compared to UCLA, The University of Nicosia is pretty small, however it has a really modern feel. On the university tour we passed by our future apartments and got to check out the restaurants included in our meal plan. Since they are getting renovated we’re staying at the Altius Hotel for the time being, but they told us that future programs would be staying in the new dorms for the entire time. The program coordinators also provided us with meal vouchers that work as our meal plan. The meal vouchers are good for 3 different restaurants located 5 minutes away from the university, and a 24-hour bakery.

We concluded our day with a welcome dinner in Old Town at To Anamma Traditional Restaurant. Here they served us Mezze, which is a huge collection of small dishes. The dishes include a variety of meats, a Cypriot Salad, dips, pita, and halloumi, traditional Cyprus cheese. Through dinner we were introduced to traditional Cyprus food and the rest of the people on the program. The program is mostly comprised of UCLA life-science students, however there are 3 people from UC Davis. The mezze was really the perfect way to end such a long day.

Tomorrow we begin our first week of classes and honestly I’m a little scared for the physics! See you next week!