Kate Loomis - 2017 Program Participant
What inspired you to go abroad?
My college has a graduation requirement of doing some sort of cultural emersion while obtaining our degrees. I had choices between doing faculty-led options with my school or studying abroad during any point in an academic year. I really wanted to experience a different countries classroom setup and student life. I hadn't planned on studying abroad because my academic schedule didn't allow for full semesters abroad, but I stumbled across being able to study abroad in Athens, Greece for January Term and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
Why did you choose your specific program/organization?
I choose AIFS Study Abroad because it was the only program to my knowledge that offered an opportunity to study abroad for January Term in Athens, Greece. I wanted to experience a study abroad lifestyle in an area that wasn't the "classic" student study abroad location like London, Paris, or Rome.
Another part of AIFS Study Abroad that captured my attention was my ability to take a class specifically on the mythology surrounding Ancient Athens. My class was a field trip every day to the ruins of Ancient Athens and it was an amazing experience.
What was your favorite part about Greece?
My favorite part about Greece was the ability to experience the Greek mythology that I grew up reading about. Even in the middle of winter, Athens is a beautiful city and the weather was like perfect fall Wisconsin weather.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I only studied abroad for three weeks which is not the usual timeframe for a college student. I had class everyday with the accelerated course load and was able to explore Athens with my classmates after by ourselves. I didn't have to have prior knowledge of Greek before I went on my trip.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Our program director helped my travel group a lot with transportation around Athens and any extra travel outside the city. She helped us with avoiding the aggressive street vendors that tricked tourists into buying their products. She gave us advice on how to handle the culture shock and deal with being home sick. She was genuinely concerned about our well being when half of us were sick.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have spent more time studying the monuments we were visiting so I could fully absorb the history of the city. I also wish I had split up my days exploring Athens into sections instead of covering a lot of ground in little time.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I would have class starting at 9 a.m. We would explore the section of Ancient Athens we were lectured on till about noon, then we would be good to explore the rest of the day. Sometimes we would have program trips to little hideaway places to eat together or program trips to temples, like the Temple of Poseidon and to Delphi. We would try to find different places to eat every night to get a taste of the culture. I would then get ready for bed and talk to my friends and family back home since that would be the time that they would all be awake.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I literally spent a majority of my days exploring the city since I had so little time with studying abroad. I also tried to taste all the food I could.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I had suite style dorming which was nice because there was a lot of space for movement. There was a full kitchen to use and a stocked fridge when we moved in. There was six people that could live in the suite and had two people to a room. Each room had access to a patio look out of the city and it was beautiful.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Be prepared for anything to happen. Don't have an entire day planned out because from experience while abroad, a day is never going to go as planned and that can sometimes be a really good thing.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
I am more open to experiencing new things and new foods. I am more confident with unusual situations. I am more confident with meeting strangers and becoming friends with them.
Would you recommend your program/provider to others? Why?
I would 110% recommend this program to friends and strangers. From the very start of my application to study abroad with AIFS, they were very helpful with the paperwork and suggesting the best things to do for a first time traveler. The website is very user friendly and all the documents are easy to find and upload.