Studying Abroad in Greece: A Day in the Life

Savannah Pauly, contributor

Photo of the inside of a cafe in Agia Paraskevi, Greece taken by Savannah Pauly on  Nov. 9

Today, Nov. 8, marks exactly two months since I hauled my luggage all the way to Athens, Greece to begin my first ever study abroad experience. I never dreamed of studying abroad because it was wildly out of my comfort zone. I had never left the United States let alone travel much outside of Minnesota, and the idea of moving to Europe for four months by myself left me with spiraling thoughts and doubts – and that’s exactly why I committed to it. 

Photo of Monastiraki Square in Athens, Greece taken by Savannah Pauly on Sept. 15

On Sept. 8, I arrived in Athens and moved into my residency at The American College of Greece. With no expectations or much previous knowledge of the way of life in Athens, I dove into this new experience headfirst. I had only one expectation for myself: completely immersing myself into a new culture, Greek culture. As I prepared for my stay in Greece, I intertwined the daily use of Duolingo into my routine two months before the trip which  – I personally recommend. Not to praise Duolingo, but I consider the platform as a fun way to gradually learn a new language and I felt inspired to practice every day since I aimed to communicate with locals upon my arrival. Greeks appreciate when foreigners try to initiate a conversation in their language, but they will know in an instant that you are indeed a foreigner. Most locals speak English, and when they exchange words back to you in English after you talk in Greek don’t take it to heart, they just want you to feel comfortable.

My mornings start off with a walk, or an occasional (and preferred) bus ride, to campus in Agia Paraskevi. It’s a town full of shops, cafes, markets and cats that provides a calmer environment compared to downtown Athens. Even in November, the temperatures rise to 80 degrees and the sun is beaming bright as ever. I bet anyone in Minnesota reading this just rolled their eyes at that information, but I assure you that the hike isn’t all sunshine and consists of a bit of work and sweat. Greece has the most sporadic yet beautiful layout of land with constant hills, flights of stairs and towering mountains surrounding the populated city.

Photo of a neighborhood cat in Agia Paraskevi, Greece taken by Savannah Pauly on Oct. 16

I enjoy making stops to coffee shops on the way to class, between classes and on campus. The most popular coffee of choice I’ve noticed people order here, including myself, is a freddo cappuccino (a type of European iced coffee). The coffee prices around Agia Paraskevi also range from one to three euros each, so you can imagine how much I’ll miss that. The streets holding narrow brick sidewalks are full of bright multi-colored flowers and traditional Greek style homes. On days where I find myself with a few hours of free time, I like to hop on the Athens metro and explore downtown. Grabbing a quick three euro gyro always hits the spot, and viewing the Acropolis amazes my eyes every single time.

Overall, life in Greece is pretty amazing. Studying abroad is the adventure of a lifetime and I am so glad that I get to experience it because at the end of the day, life is lived outside of your comfort zone.

Photo of a street in Agia Paraskevi, Greece taken by Savannah Pauly on Oct. 12