Athens: An Experience Worth Having Past Review

By (Art/English, University of Alaska Fairbanks) for

GEO: Athens - Study Abroad Programs Athens

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I found the culture of Greece to be very interesting. I'd been to Europe multiple times before, but Greece was both Western and non-Western. The city was similar to other big European cities but there were aspects of the area that I would have thought to find in places a bit further East. It's hard to explain, so my suggestion would be to experience it for yourself.

Review Photos

AHA International: Athens - Humanities Photo AHA International: Athens - Humanities Photo AHA International: Athens - Humanities Photo AHA International: Athens - Humanities Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The teachers acted the same as many professors back in the U.S. in thinking that their class was the only class with homework. While this is reasonable because students are getting full credit for those courses, students need to take into consideration how much time they want to be spending on class versus how much they want to spend seeing the country they're visiting.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Athens Centre staff was extremely helpful. Someone was always there to answer questions or just to talk with. All of the workers had lived in Greece or had an extensive knowledge of Greek culture. Our program size was pretty small, which had its positive and negative aspects. My overall expectations were definitely met.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I shared an apartment with three other American girls from my program. The apartment was fairly good sized by European standards and was located in a very nice location close to the Centre. To get to where there was some nightlife took a bit of a walk, but cabs were super cheap. In terms of the kitchen we had some problems figuring out the oven and had to buy a cutting board, but otherwise didn't have any problems. The water heater (which had to be turned on 30 minutes before showering) took a bit of remembering, however a couple of cold showers didn't hurt us at all.

* Food:

There were some big grocery stores close by the apartments that were pretty close to any Safeway or such in the U.S. The Centre staff always had good recommendations on where to eat out. In and around Varnava "Square" were many very, very tasty restaurants. One of my favorites was a pizza place between Archimidous and Varnava.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My program had a lot of trips out and about. We went to Crete, which was amazing. Chania was absolutely gorgeous and had some really, really nice shops. My favorite place, which I went to on my own, was Meteora. There are these giant rock formations with monasteries on top. The area is absolutely gorgeous. Some of the best food I had while in Greece was in Thessaloniki, but I didn't see many of the sites around the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There were some riots and some bomb scares while I was in Athens. The Centre staff was always aware of when riots were occurring and would alert students to avoid certain areas of the city. I never really felt physical threatened at any point on my trip.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* 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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

The problem with our language classes was that, even though we were only there for three months, we only had class twice a week. This meant that we weren't learning the language quite as fast as I personally would have preferred. I personally chose to take an additional Greek class (which the Centre suggested). It did help my understanding of the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program, and really any other exchange program, really relies on a person who has some personal ambition. It doesn't really matter if that ambition is to find all of the best bars in the city or to see every single museum, but there needs to be some sort of personal interest in the place you're visiting. It's sounds silly, but you're not going to get much out of your visit if you don't have a specific interest in the area you're going. What drew me to Greece and this program was the completely different language and the ability to see some absolutely amazing sites.