A Mediterranean breath of fresh air. Past Review

By (Berea College) - abroad from 09/06/2020 to 12/03/2019 with

Hellenic International Studies in the Arts - HISA: Paros

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Since coming back from Greece, I am not the same person. It's not as though I left a boy and came back a man, but I grew up in many ways. Although the courses were not rigorous, I never stopped learning during my three months at Paros. In the classroom I was stimulated; I was passionate about the content because I had a say in what we would cover. I always felt heard by both my professors and me peers due to the quality of the program as well as the small classroom size. Outside of the classroom I was learning about the type of person I was and the type of person I wanted to become. Outside of the classroom I was exploring the local flora and fauna, utilizing my resources and all of the elements around me to tap into a human identity larger than myself. I connected with other Americans from the program, thereby becoming exposed to different sub-cultures within the monolithic entity that is simply referred to as the U.S. I played music with a German pair of friends, a Suede, and a few Dutchmen in their silver years. I dated for the first time in a foreign world that seemed less scary and more familiar than I expected. In short, my answer is a simple 'yes.' Yes, it was worthwhile.

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.

In terms of rigor, I wouldn't say that I was challenged that much while in Paros. That being said, I rated HISA 4/5 because rigor and challenge was not the purpose of the school. I elected to go to an arts school to escape for a semester, to plunge into a culture the likes of which I'd only ever heard whispers from myth, legend, and my mother. The school, the resources, the excursions, and the general atmosphere of this program was top-notch.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Yuko, the main program and event coordinator for HISA, did an incredible job organizing and administering the program. She was consistently available for consultation and general advice throughout my stay in Greece. Many of us in the program referred to her for issues ranging from course credit questions to homesickness.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangements were the most challenging issue. Many of the students (myself included) were plagued by water issues, room flooding (this was more frequent as the season progressed and we began entering winter), bug infestations, and temperature fluctuations. Luckily for future HISA attendees the program will no longer be run through Jimmy's Apartments.

* Food:

The food from local restaurants was perfectly good and filled my stomach well. I wasn't eating five-star meals or anything, but I had nothing to complain about. I often enjoyed discussing how inexpensive various grocery items were in comparison to prices in the United States.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was hoping for some more international exposure within the art school itself, but I was somewhat saddened to learn that all the other students were American. Nevertheless, I managed to somewhat integrate myself with the local culture. I often joined my philosophy and film professors for dinner after class, occasions during which they would tell me places on Paros to avoid explore should I hope to get well adjusted to a Greek way of life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was injured on several occasions. Thank goodness the Greeks have an NHS-like system.

* Safety:

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Create a formal budget to avoid spending too much money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? High School Honors French V
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The professors
  • The excursions
  • The weather and environment
* What could be improved?
  • The classes could be a bit more structured (especially the philosophy and film classes0
  • The photography course should be more streamlined and should have more field trips (basically, more time outside and less time inside).
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The size of the classroom and the background of each of the professors.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.