Athens Experience by Rita Oliveira

My name is Rita Oliveira, and I have been on exchange in Athens Greece.

Country Choice
Spain was my first choice to go on exchange to. I really wanted to learn how to speak Spanish more fluently, and off course the weather is nice there and it is a fun country.

Unfortunately, because I followed Spanish 3 I was dismissed for Spain. There was no other country available where I could learn the Spanish language, so I decided that at least I could have the same weather and fun. That’s why I picked Greece (I had never imagined myself living there).

Arrival
I went on 22 February 2014 and I returned on 1 August. I arrived by plane and took a taxi from the airport to the city centre of Athens, to the office of the agency – StayinAthens – that rent me a room. After signing the contract they brought me to my new house by car.

Accommodation
I had a full apartment that I shared with one more girl. I really liked my house, it had everything I needed as an exchange student and I felt home there during my stay.
I lived in a flat with three floors, and almost everyone was Erasmus. Every night we hanged out at our rooftop, where we barbecued, had a pool and threw parties every now and then.

School & Courses
The first impression of my school, well, the school was nice but I was overwhelmed at first by the open culture there. The school corridor was full of posters, there was loud music playing from big boxes and people where smoking inside. That was a huge contrast with the tidiness of The Hague University, but I got used to it soon.

I followed six courses. They were very easy, and I never had homework for classes.
But: for all the courses I had to make an assignment that would decide my grade together with the exam. Obviously, like most students I did everything at the last moment. I had a lot of stress because of that, so I would really recommend future students to make those assignments right at the beginning of the semester. In February/March it is not that warm yet in Greece so it’s better to do it then, instead of May when you could be laying on the beach.

Teachers
The teachers were way less formal than the teachers in the Netherlands. They were very friendly, but they arrived always too late for class and they talked about a lot of other stuff in class before explaining the theory of the course.

 Schedule
I did not have days off, but my days were very short. On Monday’s and Friday’s I only had one course in the morning so I had the rest of the day off. And except for Monday I never had to start before 10.30, so I didn’t have to go to bed very early the night before.

 Students
In my class we were with 10 international students, I don’t know how many we were in total at my university TEI of Athens, but I guess there were 300 exchange students in Athens.

ESN is very active in Athens, so all exchange students from different universities knew each other.

All classes in TEI Athens aretought in Greek, so the exchange students had their own class. I rarely had contact with Greek students, so I interacted more with other Erasmus students.

Athens
Athens is an amazing city. There is a lot of cultural stuff to see – you have to visit the Acropolis – , and lot’s of cheap restaurants and nice bars. Not to mention the weather. Whenever I had a day off I was going to the beach, especially when May started. And with a port next to it, you could easily go to the most amazing islands.

 Public Transport
I think I never travelled so much in my life as during my time in Athens. I had to walk around fifteen minutes from my house to the metro, but once you were there the whole city was easily accessable. There were also plenty of buses and a tram from the centre to the coastline. I never took the train there, but there is a station where you can go to Thessaloniki and other cities. But I did go very often to the port of Pireus, to take the boat to the islands. I think I visited around 10 islands during my Erasmus.

 Prices
Prices in the supermarkets, bars and shopping stores are the same as in the Netherlands. Restaurants and kiosks are cheaper, and usually you don’t need to pay entrance in clubs.

Strong & Weak Points
When you get to know them, the Greeks are very friendly. But overall the people in Greece are very grumpy, especially the older ones. And sometimes things are a bit chaotic in Greece, but that is just their culture.

Athens is a great city, but I must admit that outside of the centre it looks a bit ugly and in decay. But for me, this is a strong point at the same time. After getting used to the ugliness you realize that it’s part of the charm of Athens, where the old culture meets the modern life.

The strong points, well, can I be even more positive than I have been so far?

 Biggest Impression
The travelling has definitely impressed me. Greece is a dream. Every island that I’ve visited was so beautiful and different from each other. But what they did have in common was a clear blue sea and (most of the days) a warm, shining sun.

Even if you are not such a beach lover as I am, I believe that the beautiful views of Greece will take your breath away. Most islands are small, so you can easily rent a scooter or quad and explore the island.

I also did a trip to Istanbul, as it was very close by plane.

 Recommendation
I would definitely recommend this! You will never get bored in Athens, there is so much to do and you should definitely travel around the country! It will be the experience of your life!

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