Kevin Lakin - 2014 Program Participant

Near the coast of Paros Island, Greece

Photo taken during photography class!

How did you decide to apply for an international program? 

Honestly, a few months before the deadline to apply, I decided I did not want to participate and I’d just wait until I finished school to do my traveling. Then about a week before the deadline, I was talked into it by a friend of mine who did study abroad in the past. So I agreed to give it a shot, I mean who in their right mind would blow off an opportunity to go to  Greece?! I took the bold step, and gathered some funds and decided to go for it. Why not travel to other side of the globe?

Why did you choose Athena Study Abroad? 

In a sense, I think fate chose this program for me. At our small school, we never really get a choice; they usually go to London for the summer, but for my last summer as an undergrad, Greece was the option.

Paros Island, Greece

Just Landed!

What was your favorite part about Greece? 

I am not sure I can truly say what was my favorite, because every single moment I just soaked in as much as I could. But if I had to say, it would be the weather. It was very similar to Southern California, yet there was no smog in the air and every single day was absolute paradise. The sun was always shining and the water was always perfectly warm and blue!

In your opinion, what makes Athena’s program unique? 

The uniqueness of the program (though I have no other to compare), would be the clout that the program has with the local art school there. Everywhere we went all we had to do was mention HISA, and we got discounts on food, and of course free wine! I think the locals enjoy the tourism that the program provides.

How did local staff support you throughout your program? 

Oh my goodness, that was probably one of my favorite parts about the program. The staff was great! Cameron was a genius about local knowledge, the history, the locations, the art, and making the trip so enjoyable! Jennifer also was great with her knowledge of the island, the fun places to see and eat! Barry was the MAN! He was so welcoming and took great care of us, to make sure we got to experience the Grecian culture by way of our stomachs and with the music scene!

Paros-dise attendee

On our way to Paros-dise!

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

That is one question that I never enjoy answering because I try to remove the words "would have" from my sentences. There is nothing that I "would have" changed, because I cannot. When I look back, I understand that everything that I did was right for myself in that moment and nothing will change my actions. Maybe there are things I could have done more, but everything I did, is done.

What was a typical day like for you in Greece?

I really cannot put the days in a structure because every single day was different, and that is exactly what I dreamed it would be like. Though I guess, you can include waking up early, going for a run, taking a shower, grabbing some breakfast, driving to class, learning some history and photography, going to Pepe's for a gyro, taking a siesta, hitting the beach, getting dinner, hitting the Dubliner, and going to sleep. Of course we always altered from that list when we had our class trips, and that awesome free weekend we had!

Flag-poling in Santorini, Greece

Flag-poling in Santorini

What was your favorite thing to do on your freetime?

My favorite activity had to be renting the buggies and exploring as much of the island as possible! We managed to hit the best beach Santa Maria on the north of Paros more than a few times! We also got to travel with some friends down on the south of the island to another secret beach!

What type of accommodation did you have?

We had a really great accommodation! We stayed about a five minutes walk from the beach at Jimmy's apartments. It was a nice complex that housed all of the HISA students, which is what the best part was. We got to stay in proximity with everyone and were always a three step walk to the next room. I also enjoyed the rooftop, where we would meet and play games, drink a little, and just hang out!

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad in Greece impacted your life? 

Wow! More than I could have imagined! It was the most wonderful experience of my life so far! The places we saw, the things we did, the people I met, the food we ate, the pictures I took, and everything I experienced has changed me for the better. I feel more confident with myself, because I finally took that trip I always talked about but never did. I finally stop worrying about the future so much and just lived in the moment. I didn't worry about what was next, because what I was doing in the present was all that I was concerned about.

Programs like this not only change your view on the world, of how big and diverse it is, but it changes your view about yourself as well. You learn a lot about yourself and what you can become from seeing life from a new perspective. It was great, I could not have asked for anything more.