I’ve been living in Athens, Greece for almost 10 weeks now, and as the days tick down, I’m both dreading leaving this adventure, and excited to get home and start the next one. Things have gotten progressively more difficult in my time here, balancing classes and traveling and exams and exploring the city I’ve come to know so well. Arguably the most difficult part of this experience, however, is the lack of anything that is truly familiar. There are of course ways to combat these feelings, but I believe it’s important to be prepared for them regardless.
At Deree College in Greece, most classes are only graded by two things: midterms and finals. Because of this, we all essentially feel all the stress that would normally be stretched across an entire semester in the few weeks of exams. Combining this stress with the stress of constant traveling was very taxing for me mentally and physically. While we all knew we were signing up to “study abroad”, the lax lifestyle that is common in Greece distracted us from preparing for midterms, and we all spent two miserable weeks cramming rather than enjoying our time here. To any future study abroad-ers, I definitely recommend spacing out the studying into smaller periods. I know studying isn’t always the number one priority while abroad, but trust me it will make your life so much easier!!
Another news flash that future study abroad students may need: even though you’re experiencing so many new and incredible things, your friends and family back home don’t become less busy! Time differences and the fact that you’re currently living very different lifestyles can be difficult bridges to cross for some people. People you typically talk to everyday may not be as accessible, and the odds that you feel like you’re missing out on experiences with your home friend groups are high. I’ve made plenty of friends here, but it’s important to note that you may not “connect” with anyone in the same way you do with your friends from home. Scheduling times to facetime or chat with friends from home has been very important to me, as sometimes having just a few minutes to reconnect can be the push you need to keep going.
Overall, I’m still absolutely loving my study abroad experience so far! I encourage any prospective students to put themselves out there, experience things you normally wouldn’t, and of course, don’t forget to do a little studying every now and then!