As the fall 2021 semester comes to a close, our community of study abroad students in Europe reflects on their semester, the lessons they’ve learned, and the places they’ve traveled.
In our next interview in our series, Gracie tells us about her experiences studying in Athens and traveling around Greece and Europe.
1. Let’s start with something interesting you’ve learned about the city where you’re studying.
I’m in Athens, and it’s so incredibly big. The city is so stretched out, so wide, and I’ve never lived in a city that’s so big before. I’m in one of the outskirts, and it takes around 40 minutes to get to the center of town. It takes an hour to get to the beach. From the top of the mountain in the outskirts where I live, you can’t even see the other side of the city.
2. What was a major culture shock for you coming over from the U.S?
The way they drive here was a culture shock. Drivers don’t really slow down or stop for you when you cross the street. Jaywalking isn’t really enforced here, so people cross the street whenever and wherever. You just have to be vigilant and cross at a good time.
3. What is your favorite part about living in Europe and the lifestyle in Athens?
My favorite part about living in Europe in particular is how easy it is to travel to other countries in the EU. Also, in my city I really love going out to eat – I feel like that’s such a European thing, to go out to eat late, have wine with your friends with a nice view. Just great vibes. I really like that about European cities.
4. What’s your major, and how does it relate to what you’re learning in your city?
I’m a philosophy major, and I guess that relates to Athens pretty well. It’s the birthplace of a lot of great philosophies and philosophers. I feel like this is one of the best places for philosophers to be – a lot of history just around the corner.
5. Give me your top bars or clubs you’ve been to in Europe that you’d recommend for other students.
I’d say that Venti is pretty high up there. It’s a fun atmosphere, and they play good music. We’ve found it difficult to find places that play American music, but Venti does. I’d say another is Studio 24 – they play a lot of good music, and the lights are really cool in there. Lastly, Gozi View is a bar and club with a great view of the Acropolis.
6. What is a food or drink you’re glad you tried?
If you come to greece, you have to try Ouzo. It’s the traditional greek alcohol, and it kinda tastes like black licorice. A lot of times the restaurant will give it to you at the end of a meal. They only give you a shot amount since its so strong.
7. What is the main difference you’ve noticed between your home university and abroad university?
The university here does grading differently. You only have a midterm and final for each of your classes and that’s what your grades are based on for the whole semester. The grading system is different, too: anything above a 70 is an A, compared to the US, where an A is anything above a 90. That took some time getting used to.
8. Tell us one destination that surprised you and why.
Definitely Prague. I feel like its just very underrated, it was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. Walking around the cobblestone streets, the whole vibe of the city… I was shocked at how friendly everyone was, how traditional everything looked. The architecture blew me away.
9. What has been your favorite experience you’ve had while studying abroad & traveling so far?
I’ve had so many great experiences, it’s tough. I went and visited the island of Crete earlier in the semester when it was warmer. We had just gotten back from a day of swimming in the ocean. We went to this restaurant and the waiters all were so interactive with us. They kept giving us free desserts, free drinks. They gave us a whole bottle of wine for free, and they even took shots of Ouzo with us. I felt truly immersed in the culture. They were so friendly.
10. Something you wish you knew before studying abroad that would’ve helped you prepare?
I wish I knew that I would buy so much stuff here, so I would’ve taken less with me. There are so many cool stores here with interesting things to buy. I would suggest to bring less clothes!
If you’re currently studying abroad and would like to share your insights on your semester with us, or if you’re planning on or thinking about studying abroad in the future and have some questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!