Nicole Byrne: Starting the Summer off with an Adventure in Greece

Meet Nicole Byrne, a junior Civil Engineering major who studied abroad in Greece for three weeks this summer. Nicole is a part of the Honors College, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a member of Theta Phi Alpha on TCNJ’s campus. While she was in Greece she completed an honors requirement by taking a class called “The Odyssey of Greece,” which was all about the history, literature, and architecture of the country. She traveled alongside 15 other TCNJ students, two being fellow sisters of her sorority. The professors of the trip had immense experience and knowledge about Greece, and one of them had previously lived in Greece for seven years.

Nicole was super excited to start her trip to Greece and be able to travel with her best friend and roommate, Amanda. It was going to be a long trip there and she knew that if she had Amanda by her side it would relieve the stress of being in a new environment. She started off her trip in Athens and traveled all throughout the country visiting cities like Olympia, Delphi, Pylos, and Santorini. Throughout their time they were able to visit museums and ancient ruins where they took notes and learned about each site from their professors.

Nicole’s favorite part of the trip was relaxing along the beautiful beaches, which took time away from doing work. Although she was there for a class, she wanted to be able to immerse herself into the country and culture and see all the amazing things it had to offer. A special moment on the trip was when the group traveled to a refugee shelter and volunteered time to read books and play with the kids that were staying there. The group also collected sanitary items, books, and toys to donate to the shelter. It was one of those once in a lifetime moments where Nicole was extremely grateful for her life back home and she said she was, “thankful for my safety and excited to return home to my family.”

If there was one thing Nicole would change about the trip it would be the length of it. She felt three weeks was not enough time to complete not only an intensive course, but go and see some of the things she was hoping to visit, “I’m grateful I saw and was taught a ton of stuff that most people will never get the opportunity to see and learn about, but with so much work to do and spending hours upon hours in museum and at sites, it made it hard to see what I wanted to see in the three week period.”

For those of you thinking about studying abroad in the future, advice from Nicole would be to make sure the class you will be taking is something you are really interested in. Nicole found it difficult to get involved in the class because it wasn’t something that she was used to studying. She worked hard throughout her three weeks there in order to fulfill her honors requirement, but she kept thinking that if this class was more about her major, perhaps she would have gotten more out of it overall.

In all, Nicole had an amazing trip to a place she had been dreaming of seeing for so many years. She was grateful for the opportunity to travel with her best friend and is looking forward to tackling more adventures after learning so much about traveling during this one.