How would you like to spend your summer studying abroad in Athens, Mykonos and London? With AIFS customized faculty led programs, your dreams can become reality! Brittany, a student at the University of Florida, is one of these students. She has been taking part in a customized faculty-led Journalism multi-location program in Greece and England. Her first stop? Athens. To record her experience on her study abroad program, Brittany kept a blog recording her experience studying and travelling abroad.
Follow along with Brittany’s journey:
‘How you going mate?
I’m Brittany Lewis and I am a Telecommunications major with a minor in International Relations at the University of Florida. I was born and raised in a small town in Long Island, New York but I recently moved to Orlando, Florida. However, when it came to my first Florida in summer, I couldn’t take the heat. So, I packed up my bags and escaped to Europe. First stop… Athens!
There is always a chaotic rush of travelers disappearing in different directions in airport departure lounges. Destined to renew their energies in a new destination, passengers move at once like electrically charged particles. I sat sipping my refreshing pomegranate iced tea. It had been a long sleepless 8 hours flying to London Heathrow before catching our next flight to Athens.
There is a thrill of attempting to piece together the life stories of fellow passengers. Had they seen more of the world than I? Were others thinking the same about me?
If people watched closely enough, they could connect the dots. I had a Florida Gators luggage label. I had ordered the cheapest drink on the menu in the café at the departures lounge. My friends and I could be heard trying to learn greek phrases from google translate before our arrival in Athens. I also had a gleam in my eyes that revealed how long I had been waiting for this journey and how I knew it would change my life. If someone watched me closely enough, they could connect the dots. I’m an American College student on a study abroad trip.
Arriving in Athens
My crippling jet lag was no match for Athens. The city was calling me name – quite literally as my name was called several times for attendance. However, I was too occupied to shout out ‘Here!’ Words would have disrupted my moment of realisation. I was in Athens – a country who language, customs and values were completely foreign to me and I could not wait to change that.
A warm Athenian welcome
A few of the girls and I decided to make our way downtown. We wanted some authentic Greek food. A quick search of TripAdvisor led us to the Tabepna To Kapzouzoo which was owned by a charismatic man named Nikos. Nikos was unlike any restaurant owner, manager, waiter, and chef (he did it all) I ever had in the U.S. He genuinely cared that we were enjoying not only our meal, but the atmosphere. He was patient with our attempts to order in Greek, even though we were butchering the names of some of the dishes. We received a tour and meet and greet with the staff. To my surprise, only two chefs – both female – cooked all of our food. It was delivered to us in under 30 minutes without any errors.
Feeling like home
Nikos wouldn’t let us leave without dessert on the house. We all received pastries with a layer of rich Greek yogurt underneath. Through our broken English and broken Greek we shared countless laughs. I expressed my gratitude for the delicious Keftedakia (meatballs with cheese) and for our warm welcome to Athens with a efcharisto which is thank you in Greek. After telling him to keep the change, he ushered me out of my seat to give me a hug. He kissed us all on both our cheeks and asked if I wanted to work in his restaurant as his co-owner. I told him I would come in next week for training.
The most genuine smile snuck up on my face as I watched him embrace the remaining girls from outside the window. With a sincere appreciation for his visitors, Nikos, made a country I was an outsider in, feel like home.’
You can learn more about Brittany’s travels below: