Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to travel to Athens, Greece. The history, culture, and beautiful scenery was what led to my decision to study abroad there. I attended Deree: The American College of Greece through the AIFS program. Although it is more expensive, I would highly recommend going through a program such as AIFS because there were many benefits to it such as a 300 Euro debit card, free metro passes, sightseeing excursions, and free meals.
The college was situated in a suburb of Athens, Agia Paraskevi. I liked that we were in a suburban neighborhood because it felt safer, and Athens was only a short metro ride away. Athens, Greece has beautiful beaches and plenty of historical ruins such as the Parthenon, which overlooks the entire city. The history dates back thousands of years and it was interesting to see ruins embedded around modern buildings throughout the city.
The people in Greece were friendly, and I never had trouble getting around because almost everybody spoke English. Making new friends from all around the United States was awesome! Exploring a new city brought my friends and I closer than ever, and I’d felt like I’d known them for years by the time our trip was over. Travelling was a huge component of my study abroad experience. While I was there, I had the opportunity to travel to Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Santorini, Mykonos and smaller islands close to the city. I also had the opportunity to hike Mount Olympus through the college, and although it was the hardest hike of my life, making it to the summit was more rewarding than I could describe.
I would recommend planning trips once you have established a group of friends. This can easily be done even last minute through websites such as Airbnb, and it is both inexpensive and a great way to experience the different cultures. Our hosts were very helpful in showing us around the neighborhoods and immersing us into local places. As for classes, I took a senior level business course that was very challenging and required a lot of work. It was hard to focus because I constantly wanted to go into the city, but I had to remind myself that my purpose for coming to Greece was to study.
Overall, my main take away from the trip was that exploration put me at peace. Constant drive to succeed in my course and absorb the city and culture lead me to realize that I should never stop exploring. After being there and living that lifestyle, I don’t think I could ever go back to who I used to be. I am forever changed by Athens, Greece.
Annalisa D’Andrea is majoring in Management. She spent the summer of 2018 studying abroad in Athens, Greece through AIFS. Annalisa had the following to say about her time abroad, “Not all classrooms have four walls. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with new cultures, and never stop exploring.”
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