Athens: A City to be Explored Past Review

By (Sociology., SUNY - College at Geneseo) for

Webster University: Athens - Odyssey in Athens

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think being in another country is worthwhile no matter what the country is. It isn't a third world country so it isn't drastically different from America. You do get a different slant of perspective while there though. Work ethic, diversity, nightlife, food, socil interactions, and academia are presented in a different light and I think it is important to see those sorts of things.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes I took were extremely easy when compared to academic standards at my home campus. I spent very little time outside of class on homework or studying. It just wasn't necessary.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The student advisor, Dina Skias, served as our mom away from home. She e-mailed us weekly on updates regarding transportation systems, our excursions, and any other relevant information. She was so helpful and always available and eager to answer any questions. She hosted a Greek cooking class for the program students and arriving and departure cook-outs. She is originally from America but has been living in Greek for a long time now so she could relate to us as well as be very knowledgable about Greece.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Extremely close to the campus. About a 3 minute walk. The other apartments with program students were directly next to the campus. It was a regular apartment building with local Greeks staying in the other apartments. I lived with 5 other girls. Depending on the number of program students, up to 10 people can live in it. There were 2 washers for clothes and 2 showers (but only 1 had good water pressure and we rarely used the other one). Two girls slept in each room. The kitchen was small but had a microwave, two refrigerators, and a stove. Dishes and cooking utensils were included.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Great excursion included in the program- Holy Meteora, Ancient Olympia, Ancient Delphi, and some others. Me and students from the program went to Mykonos for a weekend which was great. We also visited other countries in Europe on our own including Munich for Oktoberfest, Paris, and Rome. Being in Europe is a great opportunity to visit other places in Europe that you've been wanting to see.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

One girl cut her foot and she got stitches at the local hospital. As far as I know she didn't have any trouble with getting service at the hospital. As far as crime goes I think pickpocketing is the biggest thing to be aware of. Zip your purse and backpacks. Don't put your stuff down on the floor- people easily will scoop it up and continue walking. Some rioting and protesting goes on which we stayed away from when they happened. The biggest danger if you were to get caught in them would be tear gassing. The police use this a lot if the crowds get out of hand but there is never shooting. It's probably your best bet to just stay away from wherever the rioting is happening.

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? I spent about $3000 overall during my 3 month stay there. This included flight and expenses in Germany for a weekend and Paris for 5 nights. Also a ferry and 2 night stay in Mykonos. I tried to live very carefully. I ate out as little as possible and instead bought my food at the cheapest markets I could and cooked at home. Of course I bought many souveniers to bring back- I think it is better to save on food since once you eat it is gone and you can keep actual items for much longer.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook at home! Other students were always calling home to have their parents put money in their accounts because they ran out. I didn't have this luxury so had to be very careful of how I spent my money. Little things add up. I also kept a weekly tally of everything I bought (I wrote down everything I bought each day because other wise I would forget about things if I waited too long). The other students in my apartment were always complaining about how they didn't know where their money was going even though it was obvious they were eating out every day and spending too much money on clothes that they could buy at home. Also remember that you are using the euro and when you take 200euro out of your bank account you are actually taking out much more in dollars.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I learned beginners Greek in the classroom but did not need to use it while out to communicate. I didn't know enough to feel comfortable in trying to initiate conversation with natives because I would not be able to understand what they said back to me. I stuck with simple phrases such as "thank you", "please", and "hello" in Greek. It was fun to learn and me and my housemates spoke some phrases amongst ourselves when we could.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The stereotypical ideas of what Greece looks like is not what you find when you get to Athens. Some of the students described it as a smaller, more calmed down New York City. There is graffiti, garbage, and regular city traits. This does not make it a bad place but it was definitely one of the most surprising things when I arrived. Don't worry- you will find the stereotypical landscapes of Greece at the islands and during some of the program excursions to smaller, seaside towns. The campus is a very tiny building that does not look like any sort of campus we would imagine in America. The classes are crazy easy but it is nice to not have to worry about spending a lot of time studying or writing papers outside of class. They probably do it on purpose.