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Athena Study Abroad in Paros Island, Greece
Athena Study Abroad participants doing the love sign Athena Study Abroad participants doing the love sign

Athena Study Abroad in Paros Island, Greece

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

I have a whole new outlook on life

I chose Athena because it was the most inclusive and cost-effective. Yuko, our on-site advisor, was simply amazing. I have a whole new outlook on life and have gained a new appreciation for different cultures and places!

One challenge that I faces was paying with small value bills in the local shops (they rarely accept large bills). During my free time I would eat out and the country is very safe overall.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Thankful for being pushed to my limits

I loved every second of my time abroad. everyone was so helpful in getting me there. And once I was on Paros this continued. Throughout my stay, I've come to learn that there is many ways to do things.Growing up in America you're brought up thinking we're the best, we do things the best, everyone should do things our way. Being on Paros showed me a different way of life, and in my opinion an even better way of life than mine here in the suburbs.
I faced personal challenges while abroad. HISA introduced me to opportunities I never even thought of conquering. It was such a growing experience and I'll forever be thankful for being pushed to my limits.

I talked to many study abroad programs before deciding to use Athena. I liked their responsiveness and helpful attitude when I asked millions of questions. Yuko and Ioannis were amazing to have. Yuko took care of everything and sent out lots of info on our daily excursions. She is awesome! Ioannis was my professor for Cycladic Art and Culture. I loved going to class and hearing him lecture because you could see how much he genuinely loved Greek archeology. Ioannis was an amazing professor. I enjoyed listening to him because you could tell how passionate he is about his work. He was able to lead great conversations that I looked forward to. Barry (our in-site advisor) was very cool and easy to talk to. Him and Yuko are such nice people. They opened up their home to us and made the whole experience so comfy and enjoyable.

Living at Jimmy's is awesome. I loved having my own place and still having a communal area on the rood to hang out. Me and friends just walked! We walked everywhere. In the town on the beach, to get gelato, to try a bar. Nightlife lasts a lot longer in Greece, but i felt completely safe walking around late at night. I never once felt unsafe on Paros. It is such a tight knit community where not much crime happens. Nightlife is a little different there just because it starts at midnight and goes till 5am. I loved seeing traditional dancing that occurred on a main street in the town. The outfits were lovely. Most to all of the locals were very kind to us. I cant recall an incident where a local was rude.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

I learned so much

It seems that Greek culture in Greece is different than Greek-American culture. I live outside of Boston, so I'm surrounded by the remnants of Irish and Italian immigrants more than Greek. One of the girls was half Greek-American from Chicago, and I know there is a huge Greek population over there. There is even a Greektown, but the girl from Chicago was surprised that they don't light Saganaki on fire when they cook it. Apparently, that's a Chicago thing. I didn't even know what Saganaki was.
She was probably shocked because she identified as Greek and grew up thinking it's a Greek thing to do that. I think many of the Greek ethnic neighborhoods have become their own thing. There is still some connection to Greece, but it's similar to how Italians are in Boston. There is a historic Italian neighborhood in Boston called the North End, but that too has become it's own thing in Boston rather than straight out of Italy. There is nothing wrong with that. I'm sure Greek culture in Astoria, New York is different from how it is in Chicago but probably more similar compared to how it is in Greece.

I was very happy to get a single room in Jimmy's apartments. I REALLY can't live with people. It was difficult staying in the hotel room for 2 days with roommates in Santorini. It's not that I didn't like the roommates, but I need my own privacy and space. I know everyone would probably say that, but for me it's a necessity, not just a luxury. If it was a bigger room, it may have been easier. This study abroad program is good because you have the option to get single rooms , but with most programs it's usually sharing. I wished the water would get a little hotter in the kitchen sink and maybe it would be good if there were money safes in the hotel/apartment complex. The toilet often made loud noises too.

My courses were stimulating. I learned so much history in the Cycladic class. That's exactly what I was curious about before I came. I learned about proto-Greeks and that that the island was attacked and inhabited by so many different peoples, which probably shaped the modern demographics in Paros. I liked the freedom I had in Creative writing to explore and write on a variety of different topics. I liked being able to write about comedy and improvisation.

I chose Athena because it was cheaper than most programs, and studying on a Greek island rather than Athens appealed to me, but now that I saw Athens, it has its own charm that you don't find on the islands, but I still like them both. I also liked the way the program information was organized on the Athena website and the overall look of the site layout. I liked the option of being able to get a single room. I also liked the course selection and the fact that it was an art school that was smaller. When I was researching programs, this program didn't give me that mainstream large American university vibe. I already experience that at Salem, so I wanted something extra different. Our advisor was very nice and helped carry my luggage while leaving Athens and arriving in Paros and on the last day of the program leaving Paros before I got on the ferry. She also stopped a pickpocket in time.

The stray cats and dogs had a huge impact on me. Also, the fact that I almost got pickpocketed made me more alert. Usually, I'm very paranoid about those things, but the pickpockets are trained to detect anyone who is distracted, but when I look back on it the two women who were working together seemed very suspicious. They did ""sandwich"" me in between them, but luckily they got nothing because Yuko caught her in time. One of the women apparently unzippered my bag, but she would have to really dig to get to the valuables. I'm ready for the next time it happens because I know how to play their sneaky games, but I didn't expect pickpocketing to be THAT common. After that, every time a kid would come near me, I would get extra cautious because I know kids are often the perpetrators.

I also really enjoyed the food and prices. Some islands were more expensive. It's been hard adjusting to the lack of flavor I experience now. I was able to eat out everyday in Paros. Even eating out three times a day was feasible because I came to Greece with 1400 Euros, and I still have some left over. I can't afford to do that over here because first off, it's extremely expensive especially with the high percentage tipping. Second of all, in Paros I needed to use that money up. The euros were meant to be splurged. Here, I would have to dip into my savings to do what I did in Paros. With the euros I have left over, I'm saving them for another trip, and I can't dip into my savings too often if I want to go again.

Some of the excursions were tiring because I wore long sleeve clothes, but it was still worth it. I think I'm a good rock climber. When I rock climbed the Mycenaean Acropolis, I was wearing sandals, but it felt so instinctual. During my free time I ate by myself at restaurants, walked around, took pictures and videos, played with cats, bought souvenirs, ate at restaurants with other students, texted people in the US. Walking out at night is much safer than walking out in Boston or Revere, basically safer than all of the cities I live within.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    10

I definitely feel that I got my money's worth

I learned to step out of my comfort zone and get to know people that I would've originally thought I had nothing in common with. I learned to respect Greek culture and adapt to their way of doing things so that I would not come off as rude. I learned to embrace differences and that language barriers don't mean I can't communicate with someone.

And this is just scratching the surface!

I heard about Athena through a friend, and this is the only study abroad option that I had ever considered. Barry and Yuko were amazing. I truly felt that they would do anything for us if we asked. The professors were incredible and took time to get to know us outside of the classroom. They were helpful and fun. I learned so much! I met so many amazing people and had so many new experiences. My courses were Cycladic Art and Culture:
Combination of learning through lectures and field trips amplified my learning experience. Seeing our professor's passion for the subject made him fun and easy to listen to. I learned so much.
Photography:
There was a bit of a language barrier with our professor, but I still learned a lot from her. Once again, her passion for photography made the course much more enjoyable. My favorite experience from this class was the night photo-shoot. I learned a lot that night, and we created amazing photos!
Painting:
I had no previous drawing or painting experience, so this course was particularly challenging for me. However, our teacher was patient and encouraging. I improved so much during the three week course, and learned to overcome frustration and challenges. Neva was able to push us while still giving us positive feedback. It was tough, but I really enjoyed it. Sometimes it was a bummer to spend so much out of class time in the painting studio to finish projects, but I understand that painting takes time and patience.

Our living arrangements didn't offer reliable wifi, which was a bummer since the school was a 20-25 minute walk away. It would've been nice to be able to work on assignments and catch up with family and friends from the comfort of our rooms, but the wifi didn't allow that.
Worked well:
- Friendly staff
- Rooftop seating (awesome!)
- Room was cleaned everyday or every other day
- Suitable location

Could be improved:
- Wifi
- Some students reported missing money from their rooms
- Kitchen appliances, equipment and cleanliness
- The kitchen was supposed to be for private use of the HISA students, but everyone that stayed in the hostel used it anyway
- Had to switch rooms halfway through that program, which was a bit of a hassle, but it worked out okay

Some of the things that I had to adjust to were;
- Eating meals later in the day
- Shops close in the afternoon for siesta
- Get used to men making comments about women
- Get used to men approaching me often
- No splitting checks at restaurants

I definitely feel that I got my money's worth. We went to seven islands and enjoyed many excursions. My favorite day was when we went sailing.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

I enjoyed my time with Athena Study Abroad

I chose Athena Abroad because they had the best course options and locations. The courses that I took were intellectually stimulating and engaging, the difficulty of the courses was about the same as my at home institution.

Regarding my accommodation, I liked having my own room. The size of the room and the bathroom were great. The outdoor space was also nice. It was challenging to do laundry at the apartments and the wifi was unpredictable.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The world is so wide

I now realize how big this world truly is and I enjoyed getting to immerse myself into another a culture. Meeting a variety of different people from all over the world has helped open my eyes to new ideas too.

Athena had a reasonable cost for everything that was included and this program seemed to provide the most help. Overall everybody was very understanding, welcoming, and helpful through everything. My course were intellectually engaging.

My housing was a beautiful place and I liked that we had our own rooms. It was a little far away from the school which at times was inconvenient but the walk to school was beautiful. Walking everywhere and Siesta time when all the shops close from 2 to 6 were some of things that I had to adjust to but on my free time I explored the island and got to know the other students. I loved the field trips. I thought they were well prepared and it was great to see the other islands around us. Everybody was very open towards foreigners, nightlife was great and I never felt unsafe even walking home late at night.

I had some struggles with the fact that many of the workers at the grocery store didn't speak much English and getting off the island during the transportation strike was difficult for many of us. Many of us almost missed our flights out of Athens due to it.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Academics

    9

Life-changing experience

The time I spent living on Paros Island, Greece, studying photography at HISA through Athena Study Abroad was the best experience of my life. The photography class taught me so much and helped develop my skills. The people I studied and travelled with changed my life and seven years later many of them still play an active role in my life. I literally cannot say enough good things about this program and the experience I had. It was very affordable and honestly, the experience was worth much more than what I even paid for it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    10

A perfect experience

This was an absolutely amazing trip abroad! The island of Paros is truly stunning and will feel like home to you in a moment. The food was amazing and the people were incredibly friendly and welcoming. However this program is truly special because they take you on tons of excursions to all the other islands! It is totally stress free, you don't have to worry about booking or figuring out other trips, as the administrators have it all settled before you even go. Your only job is to enjoy the amazing places you go!! I reccomend this program 10/10!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Amazing Experience!

My time in Greece was absolutely spectacular. I had the experience of a life time. Athena Abroad and HISA did an amazing job of making sure the program was the perfect balance of exploration and learning. There was never a dull day in Greece; we were always on an adventure. The classes at HISA were also great. They were very personalized and small, which created a great learning environment. Overall it was an incredible program, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

HISA

I cannot say enough good things about my time at HISA. This program literally changed my life and has been the most exciting part of my college experience so far.
Because the program is so small, I got to know every single student and professor extremely well. Not only do the professors care about you, they become your friends and mentors. I loved being able to visit them at their houses, grab a coffee with them, or even go out with them for drinks.
I absolutely adored every student at HISA and their love of exploration and adventure. We spent so many nights hanging out in the lobby at Jimmy's Apartments, taking midnight strolls to the 24-hour bakery, dancing our hearts out at our favorite bar, and stuffing our faces with popcorn during our movie nights. I think about these people every day and can't wait to share adventures with them for the rest of my life!
Paros is the most beautiful and intriguing island in Greece. Parikia is small enough that I got to know all of the streets inside and out but it wasn't too small that I got bored of it. I never grew tired of my walks to class along the beach or the sunset views from my balcony. The locals on Paros are so friendly and make an effort to get to know HISA students. It is an amazing place that I dream about going back to every day!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The Study Abroad Experience That Changed The Trajectory Of My Life

I studied abroad through Athena Study Abroad with Hellenic International Studies in the Arts (HISA) for the first time during the spring of 2013. The experience was so inspiring that I returned to Paros, Greece during the spring of 2014 for a second semester. Athena and HISA are extremely efficient and the process of applying and attending the program was seemingly effortless. I fell in love with every aspect of the program. I was challenged both academically and creatively by professors who took a genuine interest in me and my work. The culture and lifestyle of Paros was addicting and enthralling. I made so many incredible friends, be they other students, locals, and travelers. That island is a magical place, those attending future study abroad programs on Paros should know that many people choose never to leave.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Never so Inspired in My Life!

Not to be cliche, because it's absolutely true, but studying abroad on Paros Island, Greece with Athena Study Abroad was a life changing experience for me!
From the start to the finish, I had a wonderful time. This program was ideal for me because I was late in applying to study abroad (due to a lot of outside factors), so the company worked with me to submit my materials in time and checked in on me to see if I needed any help along the way. Even if I did have a lot of time, Athena would still have given me personal attention, but it was especially nice in this case so I wasn't stressed.
While on Paros the program was structured in such a way that I could direct my studies to my needs. Even in such a relaxed environment as Greece I was able to get a lot of work done. This experience ended up inspiring a lot of new writing projects and working on others I had wanted to do for a long time. Since I'm an English major, this was actually a good thing :-)
The real clincher were the field trips though. They were AMAZING! This program took us to various Greek islands, which gave me insight into the diversity of the Greek culture from island to island, and even from city to city within that island. Additionally, since I went for a semester, we went on a Spring break trip to Turkey. Again, amazing, I loved being able to visit Turkey. I was so happy to have field trips included in the program cost because I would not have been able to travel outside of the program otherwise, due to my finances.
If you want not only an amazing travel experience, but also a company who truly cares for you, go with Athena Study Abroad!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Greek Paradise

I had a wonderful experience. I emerged within Greek culture. I took six classes and private greek lessons. I learned so many new things and met amazing people. This experience was priceless and worth every penny.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

If You Are Looking for a Unique Program, Paros is for You!

I had looked at way too many study abroad programs, but this was the program that I couldn't stop thinking about. As most of the people that go to Paros through Athena will say, they didn't want a conventional study abroad trip. They wanted unique classes, in a unique location, and just really get something more out of the program.

Athena Study Abroad was, by far, the best choice for myself as far as what company to choose. From the moment you meet a representative at a study abroad fair for the first time, to even after your program ends; they provide the best, and personal experience you can ask for. They will help you every step of the way, and feel free to truly ask any questions you may need answered. I plan to study abroad again next Fall through Athena again.

The school you attend there, Hellenic International Studies in the Arts (H.I.S.A), is a tiny little school located in the main town, Parikia. It is located in two small, converted old greek buildings that are beautiful, and personal. The professors there are all very knowledgable and passionate in their given fields. Even though it is an art school, you do not have to be an art major to attend. At HISA, you will get the most individualized attention with your work, studies, etc. than you ever will in your college career. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall of 100 people, you sit outside at the cafe over-looking the ocean with your professor while discussing this week's material. They really care about each student, and want you to succeed. H.I.S.A was probably the most valuable part of the trip for me. It gave me a new perspective, and the professors helped me grow as an individual.
There is a show case/reading at the end of every spring and fall semester to display your work. The entire island is invited to come out every semester. If you are not going into the art field, like I was not, this is something that you never imagined you would experience. It's a little intimidating, but I also was very proud of.

The island of Paros is an amazing, picturesque little greek island located four hours from Athens. You see hundreds of photos of Greece, but nothing really beats waking up every day to it. Paroikia is a small town. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and beaches. But if the same routine every week isn't your thing, you may have to dig a little deeper. If you want to find something different, you may have to explore other parts of the island also. Water sport lessons, horseback riding, hiking etc. It's all there. You just have to look for it.
The greek culture is something that everyone should experience. The food is amazing, and fresh. The people of Greece are just kind souls. The one thing I wish I had done differently is really taken more time to integrate myself into the town, and get to know people. So I definitely recommend it to anyone who goes on this program.

There are very few weekends that you have completely off. Most weekends, you are on some type of excursion. Through out the semester, you island hop to: Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Anti-paros, and Naxos. Your spring break is a week in Turkey. All of which just makes this program just that much more unique.

If you do decide to go on this program, take advantage of all the opportunities! Take a class that you would NEVER think of taking at home. Whether it be painting, photography, creative writing, etc. Try that class that intrigues but scares you all at the same time. Take those optional hikes every weekend (I recommend Tripiti!) If there are any holidays while you are there, find a way to participate in it. You will quickly find that this place will become a second home, and those 3 months will go by in a blink of an eye.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

I Found The Classes To Be Very Inspiring...

I found the classes to be very inspiring and motivating. Since they were so small and intimate, I was motivated to do all of my work, and since my peers were very talented and smart, I was inspired to push myself to do better and keep up with them.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Things Over In Greece Were Fantastic.

Things over in Greece were fantastic. The island itself is beautiful along with the culture. Life is pretty good when lived between the classroom and the beach.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    0

  • Community

    0

Greek Styled Adventures

Athena offered an amazing greek styled experience from where we lived to where we ate. The best thing about this program is that learning is not just within the class room. The program takes you on weekend and day trips around the island and neighboring islands. If you love the water then you have found the right place. Just a minute or two walk away from a beach with amazing beaches all around the island. We got to go on boat trips and we even went cliff diving.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Academics

    8

Summer in Paradise

Studying abroad with Athena was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was originally attracted to their booth during study abroad fair day on Xavier University's campus because of it's bright colors and warm welcome. I was instantly greeted by an Athena employee who gave me enough information that I didn't feel overwhelmed, but I was engaged in the conversation. The manual was super easy to read and all the information was given so I didn't really have any questions. When the application process started, Athena's website was super easy to navigate and I had no problem getting in all the required forms. Actually being in Greece was an amazing experience. Athena had everything planned from a greeting at the airport to ferry tickets to our destination island of Paros. One of the best parts about Athena's Paros Island program is throughout the three weeks that you are in Greece you get to travel to many different islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Anti-Paros, Delos, Naxos, etc. The teachers are passionate about what they do and that was shown everyday in class. I wouldn't change my study abroad experience for anything and I am so grateful for everything that Athena Study Abroad has done for me.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

I loved the our weekend excursions

I found the Paros Island school and Athena was the only program that could get me there. The classes were engaging and enjoyable, but had I taken them at my home institution I believe they would have been more thorough and challenging.

Budgeting was difficult without knowing what things would cost and getting used to siesta and shops being closed on Sundays, getting used to being catcalled were some of my challenges.

On my free time I explored the island on my own, go hiking or running, go to the beach, go out to dinner or to a bar with friends. Paros was very safe, nightlife is mostly safe as long as one does not drink to excess.

I loved the our weekend excursions to the other islands. The only way the excursions could be better would be to spend more time on the other islands, but that would cost more money.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

My Kind Of Greek Life!

My time in Paros Island, Greece can be summed up in one word: fun. The classroom experience left much room for creative interpretation and the field trips allowed us to see many of the beautiful Greek Isles. I made lasting friends and together in Greece we laughed, lived at the beach, and had the experience of a lifetime.

The staff was very friendly and fun loving, just as likely to talk academics as the fun of island life.

Jimmy's apartments had kitchens, air conditioning, television, and beautiful private balconies. And did I mention daily maid service?!

The rigor of the courses was ultimately left up to the individual, with students taking responsibility for their own level of desired involvement.

You can't miss the Dubliner, a multi-bar building on Paros. The owner loves HISA students and gives them a discount. And practically all the young people on the island can be found dancing and having a great time within its walls.

Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables! Certainly less variety than the states, but the food was always fresh and delicious. Prepare to foster an addiction for tzatziki!

There were multiple restaurants and bars that catered to us as HISA students. And we found it easy to make friends who showed us the best beaches and local gelato places.

The male/female dynamic is a little different than in America. And crime of opportunity (your bag is on the floor and you're sleeping) is more common as well. But, overall, if you're aware of your surroundings and don't interact in an immediately intimate way as you might be used to getting away with in the states, your safety should not be an issue.

I found myself at a local, private hospital after an encounter with a sea urchin and was taken care of in a clean and timely manner :)