Angela Boschetti is a Mathematics major out to explore the world. She recently completed a summer study abroad program in Greece with College Year in Athens.Interviewed on - 3 December 2017
I love to travel. However, since I have a concentration in elementary and special education, I can not go abroad during the semester. Plus I wasn't sure I wanted to do that anyways due to the fact that I knew I would be very homesick and don't want to miss out on anything while I was away.
My school had very limited options for me since we are a small school, and typically students study abroad in the Summer. Therefore, I was looking between two problem,s A College Year in Athens, and Syracuse University. The price is really what was my deciding factor. I knew if I worked hard throughout the school year I could afford to pay for CYA.
I loved exploring different places. While abroad I traveled all throughout Greece. I went to 5 different cities and 4 different islands. However these different places were a home away from home. I developed a love for Athens, where I spent the majority of my trip. I became very familiar with the city and could walk around without using my GPS. I love Athens.
What made my program unique was the program itself. As a small class we did everything together and formed a tight bond. In addition, the way the program is set up, one is always doing something whether it be cheese tasting, wine tasting, walks through the farmers market/fish market, or olive oil tasting. There are always free excursions put on by the professors.
The staff was so so. However, the professors were unbelievably caring. For instance, my one professor said that we were all feeling under the weather, so in the middle of class she got up and didn't come back for 15 minutes or so. When she finally did it was with vitamin C.
The second month that I was there I think I got too comfortable with Athens and stayed inside more (that was also because of the heatwave), so I wish I got out and saw more. In addition, I traveled around southern Greece, so I would really like to see Northern Greece.
Each class is different. My one started at 9:30-12:30, then there was free lunch. The second month (a different class) we would do a neighborhood walk at 10-11, then class from 2:30-5:30. However, we got a lot of 3-4 day weekends in that class.
On the weekends I traveled around to different islands. We also went out to the bars, the beach, museums, movies, etc.
I liked the wifi and the air conditioning best. It was simple. A sheet and blanket, 3 bedrooms, one shower and a kitchen.
Get informed on the country whenever you travel. It became very handy in answering the question, "Why are that doing that?". Also learn some helpful phrases they go a long way. For this program in particular, keep an open mind!!
The most challenging part about being abroad is the ability to find comfort. Everything is new, food, places, people, classes, and most importantly culture. It actually created a sort of panic for me since I, and like most people, like the feeling of being comfortable. Over time these feeling of anxiety got dismantled by becoming apart of a community with classmates, who are all experiencing the same set of emotions, and exploring what is around you as well.
First arriving in Athen I was surprised by the run down buildings and different smells that encompassed the city. In my mind, I pictured history, ruins, people walking around yelling, “OPA!”, and endless wine. The endless wine was definitely there and so were the ruins, but the feel of Athens was different. It was a feeling that was similar to my home, but also a little different. Although Athens disappointed me in the beginning, I was taken back by how much I would miss Athens. When my classmates and I went on trips, Athens was always of my mind, and I could not wait to go. Once I became comfortable with the city, I fell in love. At every turn there was something that was different, a store, the architecture of a building, the people, Athens surprised me.
Greek students are taught English every day; they struggle with English just like how we struggle learning a second language. Therefore, by us foreigners coming in and attempting to speak some Greek it really lights up the faces of the locals. They know that their language is hard and that we are going to mispronounce words, but what's most important is that we make that attempt. Their are some locals that do not know any English at all. However, there also have been situations where I had have full-on conversations with locals. So it really depends on each person individually.
At the corner bakery near my apartment there was always a man and a dog. Since I love animals I asked if I could pet the dog, the man spoke no English but nodded his head. He was smiling the whole time even though he knew I could not understand him. The next time I saw him, he smiled and then kissed me on the cheek. Even though Athens is a very touristy place, and most locals know some English, it's important to keep in mind to always bring a Greek address of where you're going and or have your GPS ready.
Take care of your health first. Know the signs of heat exhaustion especially if you're sitting in the summer heat, and be aware that flights are long and it will take you about 2 weeks to recover from jet-lag when coming home.
Even though I love Greece I would want to study abroad Italy. In fact, I am trying to plan a trip to go to Italy just to explore the sites, and eat some good pasta. I want to see as many places as I can, which is why I wouldn’t study abroad in Greece again.
The biggest benefit of studying abroad is amercement of a different culture. It is eye-opening to be able to compare one's native culture and a foreign culture. You also gain a sort of empathy for individuals and social awareness. I think it really shows that we're all individuals who have emotions, struggles, and everyday lives. I think that's something that we can all relate to no matter where we are on the globe.
Make sure you have duplicates of your passport. You will have to carry around your passport in Greece. Don't bring any hair dryers, curlers, straighteners your time should be spent exploring the city and you'll most likely cause a power outage. Bring only one suitcase and try to have as much empty space in that suitcase as possible for souvenirs. Only bring the necessities everything else you can buy their. Get insurance on your suitcases. Pack clothing and anything important in your carry of. Make sure your adapters are for Greece.
I keep wanting to speak Greek to people now. Also I tend to find myself comparing my home life to my Greek life. In the end, I do feel like I really see a lot more of "people are all different and it's beautiful".
Yes. It has everything one needs. Free lunches,great food, great staff, cheap-ish, and it was the best time of my life, so I'm sure it will also be yours.