When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to get to study abroad in a foreign country. Two places were at the top of my list, Rio De Janeiro and Athens, Greece. I chose to go to Athens, mostly to do with its safety and access to the rest of Europe. I was excited for the warm weather there and also to study the economic environment there, which was in interesting shape in 2012. The experience did not disappoint, at least in terms of constant excitement.
First, the living situation. I was put up in an apartment with 3 other American students in my program, in the Pagrati neighborhood of Athens. Our apartment was just in a complex with Greek families, and we were the random Americans. We were right down the street from our study abroad school, which was nice and convenient. Pagrati itself was a nice little neighborhood. There was a beautiful square in the middle of it, Plateia Varnava, and Pagrati is very close to the old Olympic Stadium. In any case, there’s lots of historical value no matter where in Athens you live.
Second, getting to see all of the historical ancient Greek sites was incredible. We visited and learned the history of all of the main sites in Athens proper, such as the Acropolis (which included the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus), ancient cemetaries, Syntagma Square, and the Greek Parliament. In addition, we went to many sites outside of Athens including the Temple of Poseiden, Mount Olympus, and several Greek islands. It was an incredible experience to get to go out an see these places both as a group and on my own accord.
Third, the food situation was incredible. The trip to Greece nurtured my love for Mediterranean food. There was the street sandwiches (souvlaki) consisting of chicken or pork options wrapped in tomato, tzatziki, and pita. There were fresh vegatables from the farmers market to make my personal favorite, the Greek salad (green peppers, cucumber, tomato, olive oil, feta, and oregano). Then there was the delicious sausages with tomato sauce (I’m forgetting the name of the dish). No matter where I went or what I tried, it was always fresh and delicious, and I will always appreciate this region of the world for that.