College Year in Athens: Fun and Frustrating January 20, 2011

By (Classical Archaeology, Ancient History and Classical Civilization, The University of Texas at Austin) for

College Year in Athens: Athens - CYA

Would return abroad with the same program
What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I wish that my expectations of the students had matched reality. The program itself was very good and rewarding, but the students and their behavior detracted from my experience. I definitely feel like my time in Athens and Greece was worthwhile and I learned a lot and got to do and see things that have changed my life, but I was extremely disappointed by the conduct of many other students. I was appalled that man of the students were more interested in partying every night than they were in the culture and history they were studying in, and I found this to be a constant irritation the took away from my overall experience. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my classes, however, and feel like the experiences I had both in class and out of class were worth the aggravation of the other students.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was average, there was enough work to keep me busy but not so much that it prevented me from traveling and seeing the country. Many of the teachers were foreign, all of the classes were taught in English though, and they had strict rules about eating and drinking in class which are often disregarded here in America.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was very helpful and available to students. They were able to be contacted very easily and responded quickly to questions and concerns.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My apartment was very close to the academic center while others were farther away. I liked the location of my apartment, it felt safe and was in a nice building. Dishes and pots and pans as well as blankets, toilet paper and soap were made available to us by the institution, but we had to supply our own sheets and towels, which could have been brought with us or purchased cheaply at a local store.

* Food:

The food at the cafeteria was good. Often times I felt like they could have given us more, but usually it was more than enough. They were very good about special accommodations for vegetarians and allergies as well as simple cases of "I don't like it". Elsewhere there were many options of where to eat for prices from very low to very high. I often went to Monastiraki Square to hang out and shop and there were many very good souvlaki and gyro places there which I recommend. If you go to Nafplio in the Peloponnese I very highly reccommend to go to the famous Gelateria in the old part of town, which is highlighted in guidebooks as the best gelato in all of Greece, and I think it was better than in Italy as well! Another thing to try, which is relatively widely available and cheap, is a Frappe, a delicious iced coffee drink which is really popular in Greece.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was able to attend the anniversary celebration of the battle of Marathon at Marathon as well as see the Athens annual Marathon while in Greece. The program also arranged two sponsored field trips, one to Crete and the other to the Peloponnese, where the students were divided into groups by class and then traveled to various places and sites relevant to the course or the history of the country.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The program had a sort of loose outlook on safety, since the students lived in apartments, we were responsible for ourselves and our belongings, they treated us like adults and we were expected to act like adults. That being said, students did get sick and have to see doctors or go to the Pharmacy to get prescriptions, and students did get robbed or pick-pocketed on the streets, which were were told was something we had to be careful of. No one got seriously injured as far as I know and the program was there to help us if anything very serious had happened.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan trips carefully and make sure to be on time! Last minute travel plans can be very expensive and are not worth the cost!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
Language acquisition improvement?

I was able to practice with my classmate and the locals as well as my professors and the staff of the school.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A student who can do very well in their classes with the least amount of effort, there's not a ton of schoolwork, but the other students there seem to be more interested in their social experience. I was interested in my academic experience and felt out of place among many of the students.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

The Archaeology of Athens

Course Department: Classical Studies A361a
Instructor: David Scahill
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was my favorite course. It was taught on-site all around Athens. Professor Scahill was a great teacher who was very interested in the topic and he made every effort to make the course interesting and fun for all of the students. We were able to go places where normal tourists aren't allowed, such as inside restricted areas of some sites and behind the scenes at others. It was very early in the morning, but it was entirely worth the early wake-up call!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Ancient Greek: Thucydides

Course Department: Greek/Classical Studies C305
Instructor: John Raish
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was a course in reading ancient prose. It required a lot of preparation for class which mainly consisted of translating and discussing the text. Professor Raish admitted to being biased towards his personal translations, but was open to arguments about why something should be translated another way and did not hold his opinions against the students when grading.
Credit Transfer Issues:
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Ancient Greek Athletics

Course Department: History/Classical Studies H355
Instructor: Nigel Kennell
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was a good course. I enjoyed the subject material and was glad to be in the course. However, Professor Kennell was often biased in his opinions and that was very evident in his grading. He taught two sections of the course and often told one section something and not the other section (which happened to be the one I was in) and when this was pointed out to him he denied it. He was not always very helpful when answering questions, especially when it came to questions about upcoming exams and projects.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Modern Greek Accelerated

Course Department: Greek M101A
Instructor: Marinetta Papahimona
Instruction Language: English, Modern Greek
Comments: This course was like a crash course in modern Greek, we spoke in Greek as often as we could and learned the beginnings of the language quickly and thoroughly. Marinetta, as she preferred to be called, is the author of the book, and she was a very good teacher.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Ancient Greek Sculpture

Course Department: Classical Studies A362
Instructor: Anne Stewart
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was taught mainly on-site at museums around Athens. The course itself was very interesting and fun. I enjoyed being able to study the art in person and be able to put it in perspective with other Greek art. Professor Stewart was very knowledgeable in the field and that was clear in her instruction. She was, however, often late for class and went off on tangents unrelated to the topics we were studying. Her exams were extremely difficult, and seemed geared towards a graduate level student body extremely familiar with art history and Greek history rather than a student body who was, for the most part, unfamiliar with any art history. I had precious experience in several art history courses and so this was not so much a problem for me as it was many of my classmates. If the course is not of extreme interest to you or is not required for graduation I would recommend a less demanding class than this. That being said, I really enjoyed the course and taking a course taught on-site is an opportunity that every student should take considerable advantage of.
Credit Transfer Issues: