My experience studying abroad in Greece in the summer of 2009 was my first time traveling out of the United States without my parents, and to be honest, I was terrified. I had never been so far away from home, and I had never gone more than a week or two without seeing my family. At nineteen, I was itching to explore the world, but I was also unbelievably nervous about taking that first step. Greece ended up being the perfect first step. I had never been somewhere that was as beautiful as the idealized picture I had built up in my head, but Greece was just that incredible.
My time in Greece convinced me that I should major in Classical Humanities and History. I was enthralled with the food, the history, the culture, and the people, and I wanted to learn more when I returned home. Seeing the Acropolis in person was life-changing, and I was completely hooked on Classics after that. I was lucky enough to have Professor Beneker as my advisor for my Classical Humanities major, and as a future professor and mentor later in my college career.
In addition, I could not have asked for a better group to travel with. My closest friend on the trip remains one of my best friends today. Emily and I were inseparable in Greece, and throughout the rest of our college careers. We have traveled across the country to visit each other several times post-college and we were at each other’s weddings. It’s funny that I had to travel halfway across the world to meet someone who went to the same school as me, but Greece is what brought us together and we talk about going back for a reunion some day!
Spending a month in Greece also encouraged me to continue traveling and to study abroad again. During my junior year of college, I lived in London and studied at the University of Westminster for a semester. If I had not had such a wonderful experience in Greece, I may not have decided to study abroad in London. And it was during my time in London that I really fell in love museums and decided to pursue a career in Museum Education, which remains my career today.
Greece has been through many ups and downs in the past ten years, but my memory of my time there, and my opinion of the amazing people I met and the pure beauty of the country remains unsullied. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to study abroad in 2009. The experience brought me out of my shell, instilled in me a lifelong love of travel and learning, and encouraged me to pursue a fulfilling and meaningful career.
To those of you setting out on this same trip ten years later, my advice to you is this: enjoy it! You will have so much fun, you will see amazing sites, and have unforgettable experiences. You may meet your best friend, and you’ll certainly learn a lot from Professor Beneker, who is an incredible teacher and mentor. Oh and also, make sure to try a true Greek salad for me!