Reflections of Greece Virtual Program

By: Aryanna Arce

My name is Aryanna and I am a Sophomore at Georgian Court University from New Jersey. I decided to study abroad in Greece virtually and I definitely enjoyed it. We learned about a city called Thessaloniki and the history behind some of its monuments. It was beautiful to see how the walkway of the city was pavers along the waterline. I also loved seeing how full of life the area was. I definitely could see myself visiting and taking a walk along that beautiful walkway. If I ever make a trip over to Greece, Thessaloniki is the first place I’d go.

I also enjoyed the cooking class we took. I made the Tzatziki Sauce and the Greek Horiatiki Salad. I enjoy cooking and I liked seeing everyone else interact as well. From what we heard, in Greece, they tend to get their groceries from street markets, and I love that. They are very resourceful in Greece, and I love the support to independent sellers. I noticed a lot of their recipes have more of a sour taste rather than a sweet and savory flavor. There is also a variety of vegetables in each recipe. I shared the foods I made with my family, and they were definitely things we would make again.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel abroad even if it was virtually. I was very intrigued just online and I know my experience would be so much better. I definitely want to study abroad eventually and hope to do so next year. In the meantime, I will keep studying virtually as much as possible in preparation for my in person trip. I also will keep finding new recipes to make!

By: Alexander DeJean

When I did the Greece Virtual program, I did not expect to learn so many things about the country, history, food and many more. Greece is a lot different from America, the prices is a lot cheaper when you want to buy things. When we had people to talk about Greece, they mentioned a lot of cool things for example thy saic the houses have the same color roof. When you see the pictures of the houses with the same roof it looks pretty cool, it’s like everything is in sync. They were talking about Alexander the Great and how he was born in the capital of ancient Macedonia. Alexander the Great was it was actually conquering great part of Asia and the Persian Empire. I remember they talked about how the people really live in the city present time. They showed us the boardwalk in Greece It had lots of people walking fishing riding bikes and all. They talked about how people are supposed to walk and ride on the boardwalk. It’s the same way we do it in America. We saw the café they had near the boardwalk, the café to them is like a normal hangout, meet up spot for people. They really don’t eat breakfast like that but what the people in Greece really it during the day is lunch. Lunch for them is like an important meal for them. What really shocked me was how cheap the stuff there is. When it comes to the food it was fun, I was able to make a Greece omelet. When I tried it was really good. I also tried other Greek foods like the sauce they make, and I also tried the Greek salad. The sweets that I was given during the program were good. I love sweets so anything that sweet will taste go no mater what. I also learned a Greek dance. When I first seen it, I thought I was not going to be able to master it.

The lady that was teaching it made it look easy. It took me and other students practice to get it down right, but we did it. We’re supposed to hold hands and move around the circle and do the dance. It was fun and funny at the same time because we were messing up, but we were able to get it down. Everyone was smiling enjoying themselves, so it was nice to see that. The overall experience of the Greece virtual program was amazing, and fun got to learn and try new things.

By: Robert Duncan

This past week I was able to attend the Greece Virtual Program and experience some of the culture and learn about what it is like to live in Greece. Personally, I found this program to be an excellent way to learn the culture and a new take on site seeing places that I have only ever seen on television or in pictures. For me, I found the guided tours to be the best part of this program. While I really did enjoy making the food and cooking along to make proper Greek dishes, and I also thoroughly enjoyed learning bits and pieces of a new language, I felt more immersed in the program and in the culture. First in exploring Thessaloniki, It was interesting to see the history and some of the landmarks that still stood in a coastal city that played a prevalent host to many soldiers during war. I was intrigued that some of the landmarks, such as the White Tower, as well as the castle walls were still standing after being through so much during all of those wars. The second tour through the Acropolis was my personal favorite. First seeing the sites and the cities from up on top of the Acropolis were mesmerizing. Following up seeing some of these views it was very special to be able to see the Parthenon as well as some of the landmarks that were dedicated to some of the Greek gods and goddesses. I grew up very interested in Greek mythology so these landmarks were very special to see and truly made this entire experience very amazing for me.

The last tour was one that was very eye opening to me as well as we traveled through the city of Athens. It was interesting to see how a city in Greece (while not as big as some American cities) lives so very differently due to the nature of their culture. It seemed that “city-life” was more lively and people were more friendly and outgoing as we traversed through the various shops and walked through the city on our virtual guided tour. It also seemed that the city was more taken care of and that buildings and shops and roads were much nicer than what I have been used to seeing in some of the cities I have been to in America. It also seemed that the people of Greece were much more proud of who they are and their culture compared to some other cultures, including America. Being able to hear and see the history that Greece was built on made me realize how much the roots of the people of Greece are built on their proud history.  Overall, this experience certainly is not one I will forget, and hopefully in the near future I will be able to travel to Greece and see some of the culture and some of the sites for myself in person.

By: Macy Hendriksen

During my virtual trip to Greece, it was an amazing experience to learn about Greece’s culture, language, cities, cooking Greek recipes, traditional dances, tasting Greek coffee and tasty treats. To begin, while the program was virtual, I have learned quite a lot during the 4 days. Day one Greek language and culture, learning the language of Greek and their alphabet is very different. Learning how to speak Greek was a challenge but with guidance of how to pronounce the words, what to say when greeting others in Greek was an experience to remember along with learning some of the culture in Greece. I learned cafes and coffee is a big hit. Drinking coffee in America compared to Greece is very different. In Greece the people go to the cafes to socialize while drinking coffee spending two to three hours in the café. On day two Thessaloniki tour and Greek cooking, I found that Greece’s board walk is very different from America. I love that the boardwalk has a white long line made for those with eyesight impairments. However, the view from the board walk is absolutely breathe taking, even from it being virtual. You really do not see that here in America for those with impairments. I also enjoyed touring virtually at the White Tower. The White Tower has so much history to it and how it allows visitors to go inside to view it with an amazing view on the top that oversees Thessaloniki city which is the second largest city in Greece. The White Tower in Thessaloniki city can be seen miles away and is a meeting point for others to meet up at. I also have learned that lunch is the most important meal of the day for the Greeks. The Greeks have a very small breakfast in the morning and dinner late in the evening.

Also, on day two of the Greece program, my classmates and I got to cook some Greek recipes such as Greek omellete, Greek ‘Horiatiki’ salad, and tzatziki sauce. Once after I finished with making the Greek recipes, I shared what I made with my family at home. The food was excellent, my family really enjoyed it themselves. I was a big fan on the Greek salad, which I now started making it for lunch for work. On to day 3 of the Greece virtual program the Acropolis tour and Athen’s tour, learning this history of Acropolis and Athens is very interesting and love how the architecture of the buildings and how it was all built are still there from the second half of the fifth century B.C. Nonetheless, on top of the Acropolis the overview of Athens is gorgeous. Makes me want to go see it more in person but also explore. Athena who is known as a Goddess belongs to the temple at Acropolis who shows victory. On to the next, there are so many stores for those who love to shop (which I love to do and would be perfect for those who do as well), many markets, and food places to eat that was viewed in the Athens tour was a good experience to learn about along with knowing where the tourist mainly go to. However, I am very amazed how well the Greeks can speak English which Greeks are taught English from kindergarten till twelfth grade or up until if the Greeks go to a university since it is a must in Greece.

The final day of the program day 4, which was in person on campus, I had such a wonderful time learning the Greek dance, tasting what Greek coffee tastes like and some of their sweet treats. I am not much of a dancer but the instructor who taught the Greek dance thoroughly went step by step which was 12 steps total and made it fun for all who came. I loved that everyone who came in person had big smiles on their faces while doing the Greek traditional dance as well with interacting with one another about experience on the whole Greece program. Even the Greek coffee was so good I had to get a second cup for the ride home. After doing the 4-day virtual Greece program, I am happy I took GS200 class which the virtual program was incorporated with, makes me want to go to visit Greece and do more tours in person. It was for sure an experience to remember, I tell my family, friends, and even my coworkers about the virtual program experience. Greece is now added to my list of countries to visit in the future.

By: Kaylia Mighty

Day 2 Acropolis: My favorite part of the trip has to be when we saw the ancient ruins. It was amazing to see how well-preserved the architecture was and the efforts to stabilize and maintain the structures. To be around such history and to have the chance to witness it was such a gift. Our guide was amazing and even took the time to show us the process by which they were able to build these structures. She also gave us great insight into the legends and stories associated with the temples and other structures. Seeing how accommodating the country is to others and getting a taste of the culture was refreshing. Seeing the white tower and the walls that once were used to defend and protect the people of Greece, you can’t help but realize just how much has happened in the world away from everything that you know; it’s humbling to say the least.

Day 3 Athens: we were able to see the vibrancy of the city and the people. People singing in the streets, the shops and cafes blending the ancient city with the modern one. We learned about the importance of Athens and its geological importance in history. We were fortunate to get a glimpse of the changing of the guard. If you’ve ever seen it in America, you can see some similarities between the two and also appreciate how different it truly is. We were lucky to experience the nightlife as well. I didn’t expect such a huge time difference, For some reason, it didn’t register how much time had passed during the tours and before you knew it, it was getting dark. I do wish we were able to get a peek into the museums to see the artifacts. My favorite part of the Athens tour was seeing the cats around the city. Overall the nightlife reminded me of New York and how the nightlife never dies down.

Day 4 closing dance: I observed the dance virtually. I’m not much of a dancer, so I tripped over my feet more than I’d like to admit. It almost reminded me of a quadrille or ballroom. It was a nice way to conclude the program. I’m glad I got to experience something new and experience a culture outside of mine.

By: Edgar Ramirez

While taking the course GS200 experiential learning, I did not expect to be such an amazing experience. While seeing different people showing off their city like Acropolis, Athens, and Thessaloniki. Not to mention, there was also a chance to have the opportunity to learn about different types of Greek food which in fact, I was able to cook myself. It was a really cool experience to do and get to learn about this.

Greek food would be something that would fascinate me through the experience. While going in person to cook, there were different dishes that was very interesting that I took myself into also trying this at home. On Friday November 4, there was an experience of cooking. First, I was able to see other groups doing the same thing as I was doing which was cooking in groups. I went with my group to do an omelet with olives and red onion.

The experience I had was very cool and amazing. I was able to do different things that was very interesting. Not to mention that before any cooking began, there was a tour in Greece looking around in the boardwalk in Thessaloniki. Overall, it was a very interesting day with virtual exchange and cooking too. Another experience I had was the virtual experience in two cities which were Acropolis and Athens. From this virtual experience it was awesome because of seeing different places.

Lastly, the last thing that was on the virtual experience had to be the dancing. From this experience it had to the most fun. Not because of coffee and food but because of learning a traditional dance which in fact most Greeks practice. Being part of this experience was amazing, even though it was tough to learn the dance moves, I was able to learn that even though you can mess up, you just must put a smile in your face.

In conclusion, taking part of this experiential learning was interesting and overall fun. From getting to cook Greek food, seeing different parts of Greeks like seeing the boardwalk, Acropolis, and Athens was incredible. Lastly, learning to dance which it was part of the culture in Greece.

By: Victoria Vonfrolio

During the Greek virtual study abroad, I really felt like I got to experience Greek culture. For me, since I am graduating early, I had to take very specific courses so studying abroad wasn’t really an option. This experience fulfilled my wish to study abroad without actually going to Greece in real life. While I always wanted to travel, my wish was fueled by the wrong reasons. I wanted to travel in the past to relax and take a break from life in America. However, from this experience, I learned that as part of growing into the best version of myself, I must travel to learn and experience other cultures. I think when we do this, we become more understanding, aware, and well-rounded as individuals.

While doing this virtual study abroad trip, I feel as though I have become more culturally aware and have a stronger understanding of cultures outside of my own. I loved getting to learn about the Greek culture from actual Greek citizens themselves! I feel as though this largely contributed to the lessons that I took away from this trip. I learned that the Greeks emphasize culture, pride, and lifestyle (including great food)!

I had so much fun on this virtual experience. We got to cook authentic Greek meals, talk to real Greek citizens, and see life happening in real-time in all different parts of Greece. I absolutely cannot say better things about this trip! It was an absolute blast and such an amazing learning experience.

By: Katelyn Santello

The Greece Virtual Program was very eye opening. I have always wanted to go to Greece. Even though this was over a zoom meeting, I still felt like I was in Greece. During the tours we got to see what different cities in Greece look like. It gave me a global awareness on how people in Greece interact and how life is in Greece. During the Thessaloniki tour, we got to see “night life” which I thought was so good. People getting gelato, going out for dinner, or hanging out with friends and family. Somewhat the same from where I am but still very different. 

From this Greece virtual Program, I gained a sense of adventure. Even though I wasn’t fully in Greece, I still felt like I was climbing the mountains and walking in the town of Athens. I got to cook two Greek meals. I never cook and so actually going out and getting the ingredients was so fun. Also actually following along while making the dishes was super fun. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the cooking class as much as I did. I’ve always wanted to go to Greece but never really looked into it. So, the tours really made me want to go in person. The language lesson was also really nice. I have never thought about the Greek language but seeing how different the language is was super interesting. I really enjoyed this program, and I will definitely get to Greece one day and maybe study abroad somewhere else via zoom or in person!

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