Over the course of my six week study abroad/internship program here at the American Farm School, I’ve fallen in love with the city of Thessaloniki, reconnected with my culture, and met some lifelong friends (from Washington, Iowa, and our own UIUC). We’ve had many bonding moments while here, whether it was getting lost on our way to the beach, going into the city, or even dealing with the taxis ripping us off going to the nearby mall. While getting accustomed to the Greek culture, one thing we really adopted as a group while abroad was patience- because we all know, that “greek time” is a very real thing. Life in Greece is much more slow-paced than in America, and I think that made me truly appreciate my time spent here. I’ve seen many amazing sites, both in Thessaloniki and in Athens, (the Acropolis/parthenon, museums, and so much more), traveled to Rome for a long weekend, visited beaches in Halkidiki, went sailing, hiked Mount Olympus, and the list goes on. This experience has been much more than just completing my internship, (which was so enjoyable because of the super friendly staff at the American Farm School, and my lab partner Vandana!).
(The Parthenon/ in the Precision Agriculture Lab at school)
Currently, I am in Athens for the rest of the summer (because my family is from Greece, so we have an apartment), and I just happen to be experiencing a huge change in Greece’s economy and history. Yesterday, I was downtown with my mom, and we saw hundreds of people gathering in Syntagma Square, advocating for “oxi” or “no” to the austerity measures given to Greece regarding their economic/eurozone situation. Later on when my mom and I decided that we should probably get away from the riots downtown, we were watching the news at home listening to Alex Tsipras address the nation after the final counting of the votes. The official decision was an overwhelming “no” (61% – 39%) and we heard people celebrating everywhere afterwards, with loud music, shouting, etc. (not that that’s anything new). It’s empowering to see that the Greek people have so much pride, even in the face of a huge debt crisis. Being here during difficult times has made me appreciate my culture even more, because everyone is still warm and inviting, and truly want others (tourists, visitors) to be here. You would never guess that anything was wrong, even in the slightest.
Overall, I’ve learned a lot more throughout my summer here in Greece than I expected. I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to politics, but now I am keeping up much more with current events to be more knowledgeable. Along with this, I of course had a great experience with my internship at the American Farm School, and I hope to bring back some of the ideas that we came up with in lab here, back to the states.
Thank you Illinois and the American Farm School for an unreal summer and making my college experience complete with studying abroad. 🙂