My Second Home April 23, 2019

By (Webster University) - abroad from 01/13/2019 to 05/11/2019 with

Webster University: Athens - Odyssey in Athens

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Immersing myself in another culture has caused me to appreciate my own. As an American, I never really thought I had a culture. In the States, we're a huge melting pot, and I feel like we focus more on our sub-cultures than what it actually means to be American. I've also learned how to travel and navigate unfamiliar places, as I've taken a couple of solo trips both within and outside the country. I've also learned a lot inside the classroom, thanks to my professors that encourage my to think critically and for myself. I've read a ridiculous amount of ancient and classical literature and philosophy, and it has helped sculpt the way I see the world and myself. All these things have helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin, and the experience I have had here is irreplaceable.

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.

Intensity depends on what you're taking, but either way you learn a lot!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I started receiving regular email updates from the campus as soon as my admission was finalized. This included resources for pre-departure and little updates of what was happening around campus.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with my friend, and I was lucky enough to get my own room. Our apartment was small, but it's perfect for the two of us. There was a small balcony to hang our clothes out to dry (dryers are very rare in Greece). We've had some problems with things breaking, but they are always quickly fixed. The most frustrating thing is probably the Wi-Fi sometimes not working.

* Food:

I will never tire of Mediterranean cuisine! There are very good gyro places nearby, as well as two grocery stores.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Athens is a beautiful, friendly city, and it needs to be explored! There are several holidays here during the spring semester (Independence Day, Carnival, Orthodox Easter), and celebrating these things with the rest of the country is a good way to feel a part of the local culture. The school sometimes has parties for these events, as well.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

A sickness was going around in one of the apartments earlier in the semester, and Dina (director of the study abroad program) made them all soup. I hear it's very good soup, too, but thankfully I haven't gotten sick during my time here.

* Safety:

I feel very safe in Athens, especially by the end of the program. There are some very skilled pick-pocketers here, however. Always watch your stuff.

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

What really makes this program special is the people that are here - the professors and staff. They are all amazing people that care very much and are always willing to answer any questions I may have. They genuinely care about students' well-being, and they are eager to share their culture with those that are willing to partake in it.

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)

Greece itself is very affordable. This semester was no more than a semester at home, except not being able to work has certainly affected my finances. If you want to save money here, you easily can by eating in instead of out every night and not buying a lot of souvenirs (which I don't). My biggest expenses occurred while I was visiting other countries during my time abroad.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 - 150 (not including a weekend trip, flight, etc.)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? My friends and I spent our spring break in Israel, and this is not a place I recommend students go to if they're on a tight budget. We learned this the hard way. Take advantage of student discounts. There aren't a lot in Greece for international students, but it you travel to other parts of Europe they are more common. Using my International Student Id Card (ISIC), some ferries were up to half off, and trains within Greece were twelve euro one-way. Try to avoid taking taxis; Athens is walkable, and public transportation (metro, bus, tram) is very cheap and reliable.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Professors/Staff
  • Excursions (included in the program)
  • Culture Lessons within the Classroom
* What could be improved?
  • Local Student Involvement
  • Printing Facilities
  • Campus Hours
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Athens is the most populated city in Greece. I come from a small town in the Midwest, so a lot of my initial culture shock was actually just me trying to get used to living in a big city. Also, Greece has seasons. However, it's nothing compared to a Midwest winter, though locals will tell you that it's very cold. Pack sweaters and a coat, but don't overdo it and waste precious suitcase space.