From traveling to Ancient Olympia to visiting the ancient theater of Epidavros, the first group of Webster University students at the newly-opened Athens campus have a full semester of adventure ahead of them.
Webster University Athens welcomed the first semester study abroad students from Webster St. Louis this semester. The first week was an intensive schedule of activities designed to orient the students to the campus, the city, and ways to travel around. The week ended with a relaxing day at a nearby beach.
In the weeks to come, the students will spend their semester learning about the history and politics, culture and society, art, archaeology and language of Athens.
“Studying in Greece has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The opportunities are endless,” said Anna Gaffney, who is studying Human Resources in Webster’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology. “You can go to the beach, see Greek islands, eat amazing foods, and tour throughout Europe within just a week. The classes offered also allow for you to submerse yourself in various aspects of Greek culture.”
Gaffney, who is learning to speak Greek, said the classes are challenging, but the professors are encouraging and resourceful. “We take regular field trips to different historical sites and museums to get a meaningful understanding of the history that has unfolded here. The locals are very friendly as well. I hope that more Webster students will take the opportunity to see this beautiful country and all it has to offer!”
The Athens campus is located at the foothill of the Acropolis in the historic section of the city known as Plaka. The new students said it is an ideal location for study abroad and formal study.
“The Athens campus is absolutely beautiful, with a super centralized location. You feel like you’re truly in the heart of the city,” said Film Production student Noah Laster, with the School of Communications. “Everyone has been so friendly and patient with me on my first trip abroad, making me feel like I am welcome and safe wherever I go.”
Excursions to other destinations in Greece are an integral part of the program. This semester the students will travel to Ancient Olympia and learn about the ancient Olympic Games first hand. They will also visit the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Delphi, and the ancient theatre of Epidavros, in addition to visiting the amazing monasteries of Meteora that look like they are suspended in air.
During their first weekend in Greece, they traveled to the islands of Aegina, Hydra and Poros. Group study excursions are part of the study abroad experience and are provide to students at no additional cost. “Everything we do is a learning experience! We go on multiple excursions. My favorite so far was when we went on a one-day cruise! We were taught traditional Greek dances on the boat!” said Dominique Nadeau, a Dramaturgy major in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.
Students do not need to know the Greek language to participate in study abroad at the Athens campus, as all classes are taught in English, a policy that is extended to all Webster University campuses worldwide. The majority of students however have enrolled in the Greek language course that Webster-Athens offers.
“Learning a second language, especially one with a different alphabet, is definitely a challenge,” said Victoria Jewell, and Advertising/Marketing major in the Walker School of Business. “What I love about taking Greek though, is that I get to apply the things I learn in the classroom, immediately in the real world. There’s something especially satisfying about ordering food or coffee in Greek that makes the challenge worth it.”
Another popular course for the study abroad students is Community Service Learning. Students have an opportunity to volunteer in the local community thus giving them an additional way to integrate and learn about the local culture and society. This semester the students are volunteering at a sea turtle rescue center.
According to Human Resources student Anna Gaffney, “Having the opportunity to work, hands on, with endangered animals is not something you come across every day. I cannot even express how excited I am that Webster Athens offers a class to work with sea turtles while meeting other volunteers from around the world. This not only adds value to my study abroad experience, but also to my professional and life ventures!”
In addition, students will be volunteering at a local refugee agency in Athens, helping to serve meals to more than 200 refugees during the Webster Works Worldwide day on Oct.7.
Also, unique to the Athens campus is the two-credit Open Water Diver semester course. Several students are taking advantage of it to learn how to dive in the blue water of the Aegean and learn about the underwater world. They will receive PADI certification upon completion of the course.
Extra-curricular activities such as Greek cooking and traditional Greek dancing classes are planned for the students. They are also looking forward to attending local concerts, plays, musicals, athletic events, and movies. As Julian DeBerry, a Film Studies student noted, “Greece is a real delight. The campus feels personal, the locals are welcoming, and the food is almost too good. I feel at home here.”
Webster University’s study abroad program is a fully-accredited university level study abroad program that any student from any university can participate in. See details here. Story from Webster University news.