Arriving at the port in Paroikia, the main village of Paros, and home to Hellenic International Studies in the Arts, one sees a mile long collection of white-washed buildings, huddled along a seafront resembling a brilliantly lighted necklace of cubist design. The village itself is an architectural treasure, with seaside chapels, one of the oldest and most important churches in the Cyclades, and the ruins of a Frankish castle with terraced gardens. Nestled among this traditional beauty are cafes, bars, and tavernas, most with open air seating beneath trellised grape vines and bougainvillea. As the afternoon turns to evening, locals gather along the waterfront for drinks and mezes, enjoying spectacular sunsets, while fishing boats criss-cross the intimate and calm bay.
Eating doesn’t take place early, even in winter. Restaurants are often filled at midnight; couples and singles crowding the cafes and bars. Social life knows no hours, and though the Greeks start work early, they can be seen dancing late into the night, enjoying the traditional Greek energy, Kefi, loosely translated as “unselfconscious joy.” There is also a sober and spiritual quality to the town, inherent in its ancient traditions, inviting one along on meditative walks down narrow, winding lanes. The environment of Paroikia lends itself to inspiration and self-reflection. There is the feeling that one has reached somewhere secure. Five thousand years old, Paroikia knows itself and gives back to those who interact with it a sense of wisdom and sanctity. HISA students will find themselves living in a community of alive and welcoming companions.