Seeing as it’s “Greek Week” at Her Campus, I thought I’d do a little play on this theme and explore the country of GREECE. Since I’m abroad myself right now (in Prague) and am more likely to experience this kind of “Greek” life rather than the frat-party-beer-pong Greek life, I thought I’d take you along with me. Greece is a gem of Europe with a vibrant culture, absolutely delicious food, and plenty of amazing sites to visit during your stay. We are going to give you a detailed description of all of these wonders in Greece plus easy ways that college students can travel and study abroad there. So let’s take a look inside this beautiful country...
Places Not To Miss When Visiting Greece!
We all know that there are many sites to see when visiting Greece. You may not be able to see everything that Greece has to offer while you’re there, so we have outlined some places that you simply can’t miss...
- The Acropolis/Parthenon in Athens: This historic site is a true wonder of Greece and has a great deal of both cultural and historical significance (seeing as though it was built in the fifth century BC!). The acropolis is the second highest point in the city and the Parthenon can be seen from almost anywhere in Athens. You can take a tour of the Parthenon and other major buildings of the acropolis or you can just explore it on your own. Beware that walking up to the top can get very hot, so be sure to bring water and perhaps a fan! Also, check out the new acropolis museum that just recently opened
- Mount Lycabettus: This is the tallest point in Athens and offers a spectacular view of the city. There is an old church (the church of Saint George) to see and also a restaurant/café to dine at after your long trek to the top. For those of you who don’t feel like walking, there is also a tram that takes you to the top.
- The island of Mykonos: College students, you are definitely going to want to check out the island of Mykonos! Mykonos is a popular tourist spot and is renowned for its great nightlife. Joanna Buffum, a junior at Bowdoin College whose family is half-Greek, says that Mykonos is known as “the party island” and that there are also “several famous beaches there.” What college girl doesn’t love a little clubbing and tanning while on vacation?
A view of the Parthenon and the Acropolis of Athens
What’s the Culture/Food Like?
The culture and lifestyle of the Greek is much more laidback and relaxed than in America (which you will find in most of Europe). Cassandra Bannos, a junior at Tufts University, says that “people are much more relaxed and everything runs on ‘Greek time’.” Greeks do not eat dinner until around 10 or 11 p.m. and love to spend time eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Both religious traditions (the majority of the country is Greek Orthodox) and family ties are very important to the Greeks. Although English is spoken in many parts of the country now, traditional Greek is still the dominant language spoken. So before you go, try to learn a little of the language! Check out www.greek-language.org for some basic phrases like “Yahsu” (hello) and “Efcareesto” (thank you).
Greek food is absolutely delicious and people can’t seem to rave about it enough. The one thing that you might want to know before you visit is that the traditional Greek salad actually has NO LETTUCE but instead is just feta, tomato, onion, olive oil, and kalamata olives. Who would have guessed? Seafood, such as calamari and octopus, are a large part of the Greek cuisine. Our HC Greek expert Joanna says that “the classic Greek sandwich is a pork gyro” and “is pita, which is pita, tzatziki sauce which is like a cucumber yogurt sauce, lettuce and tomato, and shredded pork.” Hmm…sounds yummy! And of course, don’t forget to try some delicious Greek desserts such as Baklava which is a sweet pastry made from phyllo dough with nuts and syrup or honey! Can you say delicious?
Study Abroad Programs/Immersion Programs in Greece
Not all of us are lucky enough to have families who go on vacation to Greece. So what are some other ways that us college kids could stay and study in Greece? Well, there are various programs that are available to students who are interested in the wonders of Greece. The Hellenic International Studies Program in the Arts (www.hellenicinternational.org) offers semester, summer, and full year programs on the artists and writers’ island of Paros. I was fortunate enough to speak with Barry Tagrin, the Director of the Hellenic International Studies in the Arts, who says that his program is “designed to offer students the opportunity to discover and experience the real Greece, in all its aspects” and that “as many trips as possible are built into the immersion program.” This would be a wonderful opportunity for a student who is interested “in the cultural activities of Paros and the surrounding islands,” says Barry.
Another program that students could participate in is through the Aegean Institute (www.aegeaninstitute.org) which offers both fieldwork and classroom sessions to those who are interested in the study of Aegean maritime cultures. This program is very much experientially based and is offered in both fall and spring semesters. And of course, you can use your own college study abroad offices to try and find the perfect program for you.
If this article sparked your interest in Greece then why not check out some more websites on this wonderful country! Here are a few that I would recommend:
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/greece/ (also check out the “Frommers” book on Greece found in the travel section of most bookstores!)
Cassandra Bannos, junior at Tufts University
Joanna Buffum, junior at Bowdoin University
Barry Tegrin, director of the Hellenic International Studies Program in the Arts