When I think back to my summer of study abroad in Greece, Nafplio in particular always stands out in my mind. Nafplio was this small little coastal town with the most beautiful views. It felt so intimate, and it seemed so easy to immerse oneself in the culture there. The town had brick roads and small alleys and some of the friendliest people I met in Greece. In Nafplio, we stayed at a beautiful hotel that provided fresh lemonade from their lemon trees every morning. An amazing fortress, Palamidi, on a large hill with over a thousand steps leading up to it looks over the town. I hiked up to Palamidi with several of my friends, and we were able to see some incredible views of the town. Walking through the old architecture of the fortress was really fun too. Our group also got to learn traditional Greek dancing on the rooftop of our hotel. I plan to definitely go back to Nafplio when I travel to Greece again.
My study abroad experience absolutely encouraged me to travel more. I chose my current occupation because of the passion for travel that visiting Greece instilled in me. After traveling to Greece, I realized that traveling is one of the best supplements for classroom learning. I had learned so much from that trip in such a small amount of time, and I knew that I needed to travel even more so that I could learn more about the world. Since traveling to Greece, I have been to Taiwan and Japan, and I definitely plan to do more international travel in the future. I would also really love to go back to Greece; I reminisce about it often, and I love to tell my husband stories about my time there (I think I’m getting close to convincing him that it should be our next big trip!).
When I went to Greece for study abroad, I was not sure what to expect. I had pictured Greece -especially Athens – to be a pristine place that would take me back in time. When I got there, it was very eye opening and to see what Greece was really like. Greece isn’t picture perfect like the textbooks and travel guides tend to show, but it has its own rugged beauty. I never expected to see so much graffiti or ancient ruins right up against streets with heavy traffic. I had known about the Greek austerity protests prior to going to Greece, but I couldn’t grasp how it would be to see them in real life. Over time, however, I saw the beauty of it all. Learning to see beauty in places and cultures that are very different really helped me in my career and in life. I have learned to keep a much more open mind about everything.
When I think about Greece, today, I think about the friendly people who tried earnestly to connect with my classmates and me. I think about the numerous ruins from various points of time and the beautiful mountains and valleys. I think about Greece’s deep history and the myths that helped create the culture of its people, today. I think about the incredibly fresh and delicious food. Most importantly, I think about the incredible time I had while I was there.
Studying abroad was not necessarily important for my college career — it didn’t help my grades or impact any of my classes — but traveling to Greece was important for my life. I needed to go to a country where English isn’t the main spoken language. I needed to see a place that was going through a bit of turmoil. I needed to broaden my horizons. I know that studying abroad in Greece helped push me out of my box, and it helped jumpstart many more adventures in my life.
For students planing to travel to Greece in May 2019, the best advice that I can give is to soak it all in while you are there. Just live in the moment and take in as much as you can because you are definitely going to miss Greece once your trip is over.