I feel like I should just start off saying this was a once in a lifetime experience and the best trip of my life! Having the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time outside of the country fully immersing oneself into the culture and traveling was amazing.
I spent six weeks this summer studying at the American College of Greece (ACG) located right outside of Athens. This program was offered through AIFS and allowed me to study two courses that will translate to my UTC transcript. My specific college had classes Monday through Friday for four hours a day, pending that you enrolled for a full-time summer session. Each summer class was two hours long with a 10-minute break in between the hours. Course load was very different from UTC because ACG operates under the British grading scale. Instead of having weekly assignments to turn in every week by midnight with a few essays/projects occasionally, these classes had one big assignment and a final examination. Therefore, my whole time there I only had four total assignments. My first course, stress and well-being, entailed of a 4,000-word essay and a final exam. Secondly, my other course included a 3,000-word essay and a creative project that would be graded in place of a traditional final exam. The British scale also offers a very different perspective for letter grades than I was used to. For a grade to be considered an A, the student had to achieve a 70 or above. When I heard, this I thought I would barely have to put in effort to receive a 70 since that would be a C, nearly a D, on the American grading scale. But I was very wrong. The professors let us know that the grading scale is much tougher and it’s very rare to see any grades above an 80. I ended up spending several days catching up on work because I underestimated the course load being how different it was from what I am used to at UTC. Four hours of class every day was not easy, but it left the remainder of the day to explore Greece!
While it is “study” abroad, there was so much time to explore and spend my days traveling. I got out of class at three in the afternoon every day. My friends and I would then pick a new thing around Athens to do. We explored the city, the beaches, several lakes, traditional Greek dining, museums, ancient architecture, and so much more. Our program coordinators through AIFS planned several excursions on the weekends and during the week for the study abroad students to sign-up for. Excursions included island tours, beach meditation, scuba diving, city tours, dining experiences, historic tours, and other ways to help us get the most out of our time in Greece!
On weekends we did not have a scheduled excursion, we took the opportunity to do some island-hopping! My friends and I visited seven different islands. Ferry access was very easy and certain ferry lines offered study abroad students a 50% off discount which made it even easier! During our summer session, I visited Spetses, Aegina, Hydra, and Agistri island. I also took the opportunity to extend my trip by an extra week once classes were over. This allowed me to visit Paros, Naxos, and Santorini too! If you are near anywhere where you will need to take a ferry, I would purchase an ISIC Card. This card stands for International Student Identity Card. I believe it cost twenty dollars, but it allowed us to get discounts on every single ferry and paid itself off within one trip. Another thing I would highly recommend extending your trip if you feel your time there is not long enough and you have excursions planned through the university that occupy most of your time. It did not cost extra to reschedule our flights and allowed us to do so much more.
Another thing I recommend is to make the most of your time! If I were to study abroad again, I would plan out my trip more in advance. Flights to different countries within Europe are very inexpensive and it makes traveling to a different destination very accessible. My friends and I took a weekend trip to Italy, and it was only an hour and a half long flight from Greece. Since we waited until we were already there to book this trip, it was expensive. However, if you book months in advance, flights in Europe can be as cheap as twenty euros. I would have spent my weekends traveling to closer countries and booking them far in advance to get a good rate if I could do it again. We tried to visit France and Spain, but just ran out of time. I would also book air bnbs in advance if you do choose to travel to another country. Again, rates get so cheap if you book in advance!
Overall, this was the best experience and I would recommend it to every student!
Amelia Collins (BS Psychology and Criminal Justice) spent Summer 2022 studying abroad in Athens, Greece through AIFS. Amelia had the following to say about studying abroad, “Once in a Lifetime Experience!”
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