Abraham Falk-Rood - 2011 Program Participant

Abby in Paros.
Abby in Paros.

What influenced your decision to study abroad?

I was just ready to explore the world. It seemed like a shame that I had only left the US once, when I was a kid, for a couple weeks.

How did you come to study abroad through Hellenic International?

I sort of found this program by accident. I was trying to go to Greece so I could meet a famous classical guitarist in Athens who was going to teach me. In the end, I didn’t like any of the programs in Athens, and I wanted to be somewhere beautiful, so I came to Paros.

What makes the program stand out as especially intriguing?

The program isn’t like a traditional college. You have a lot more freedom. The professors are more like guides. You work hard, but you don’t have to do as much busy work. It’s more like a place to work on your art and get critique and support.

Any words of wisdom for future participants of your program?

The program is wonderful. It will change your entire conception of the purpose of your life. Or at least open up a lot more windows of thinking about the world. I recommend exploring the island, and getting to know the locals. The one mistake I think a lot of people make is to hang out too much with their fellow students with whom they feel comfortable, rather than trying to get to know people from other cultural backgrounds.

What was your favorite aspect of the program?

It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite aspect of the program, because there is so much I value about my semester abroad. Maybe most of all, though, I’d say it was the excellent professors, who were not just teachers but friends and role models.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started learning Greek more seriously when I first arrived. When I came back to Greece this Spring, I became conversational in Greek after about three months of hard work.  I wish that when I was living here the first time during my semester abroad I had realized how much Greek I could have learned if I had put my mind to it.

How did you spend your free time in Paros?

I would swim almost every day, even sometimes in the winter. The nights, my friends and I would do our work or play cards in a little cafe next to the school. The cafe was basically only frequented by Greeks, and there was often excellent live rembetika music playing. Halfway through the program, I discovered a foot trail that goes from the town up into the mountains where only a few farmers live.  I used to hike up sometimes an entire afternoon into the mountains.  Some nights we’d go out to the clubs.

Did you experience any culture shock in Greece?

I don’t really think I experienced culture shock. Before I made close friends here, in the very beginning of the program, there were times I felt lonely. But I became pretty comfortable here pretty quickly.

How has studying abroad influence your life since?

For two years after finishing the program, I was mildly obsessed with Greece, and missed it every single day. The way of life in Greece is so different and so attractive to me. Now that I am in Greece again, I can hardly imagine ever coming back to America!