Amanda S

Credentials: 2011

It is hard to believe that I studied abroad in Greece in 2011! Over seven years later, I still think of the experience often. I have always had the bug for traveling, going all around the Unites States with my family as a child. I had always wanted to travel to Europe (with a dream to first travel to Italy), but everything seemed to align for a summer in Greece. I knew I would never have the opportunity to travel for a long period of time outside of college and I did not want to miss the opportunity. It initially started as a way to get more “non science” credits, having taken almost only that on the road to medical school. It then became a fun trip with two of my best friends, Amy and Erica. While I knew it would be a great trip, I don’t think I had any sense of it’s long term impact on my life at such an important age.

Now having traveled to many other countries in Europe, I have a greater appreciation for how lucky and unique a study abroad experience is. The common thing I hear from many friends now out of college is how sad they are to have never had the chance to study abroad. The opportunity to not only travel and tour a country but to be truly immersed with its people is something I won’t likely get again. It is very difficulty to get the sense of a place with only one week of travel. Work just seems to get in the way of things these days. Which brings me to what I reflect on the most about my experience in Greece.

It is the people, both that you travel with and that you meet along the way, that make travel and experiencing a new culture so special and memorable. I had an amazing group of fellow UW students that became like a second family. Each one with an excitement and eagerness to experience a new culture. Our tour guides gave us a glimpse into the culture and showed us the hospitality of the Greek people. We danced with them, drank with them (I mean house wine was cheaper than water) and met people from all walks of life, from children to Athens professors. And most importantly, we traveled with one UW professor who already knew this importance and created an experience to foster our interaction with the people and culture. You know who you are ;).

I still dream about Greece and going back with my husband. It is the most beautiful country I have ever seen to this day. A part of me is also nervous to return knowing I will never have such an experience again. What I do know is that this experience has made me take every opportunity to meet new people while I travel. It is what I remember most and find the most rewarding. I was recently in Norway and formed a relationship with a family that we were staying with (now that AirBNBs are popular). We started as strangers and by the end of several days they had welcomed us into their home. We still keep in touch and we even sent an American care package to the 9 year old daughter. Those are the memories I will remember most.

In every country I have now traveled, I continue to see the good in people. How we continue to form connections despite even language barriers. To our core, we are all more alike than different. And in this world where most of what we hear is bad, that one fact is very comforting. And to think it all started in Greece ❤️.