Study Abroad: My Pre-departure Experience
I’ve always wanted to travel the world. And I’ve always been a relatively impulsive person. I guess the combination of the two of those might put me into trouble one day but last spring it served me well. Three days before the end of my freshman spring semester I had a moment of impulse that I wanted to study abroad the coming fall. As it turns out, there’s an exponential amount of steps to take prior to being officially semester-abroad ready.
I got accepted to the American College of Greece in Athens for Fall 2016 in two days, but ended up deferring my admission to the Spring. In order to obtain a visa to Greece, you have to do an in-person interview and handover of all the documents necessary to be accepted. The process for certain countries is much more extensive than others. For example, an Australian tourist visa takes about two days of submitting online paper work then you get accepted the next business day. The one for Greece took months. However, I spent the summer in Los Angeles working 24/7 at a summer camp and had no time or access to get any of the documents ready, so I had to postpone my trip.
Once school started again in September, it was a weekly task to get all my documents in order. Fingerprints, medical certifications, housing applications, and flight itineraries flooded my desk. It took about three months to get every form I needed and I made my visa appointment just before Thanksgiving break, and picked it up a week later. Besides the visa, there were a number of forms to fill out for the school in Greece such as registering for classes and airport pick ups. Both the Study Abroad office at Wagner and the one at ACG were extremely helpful through the whole process.
I've never been out of the country besides Canada, so with this experience I wanted to immerse myself into the culture as much as possible. Next semester I will be taking Modern Greek I, Theater in Athens, Romanticism, and Greek and Roman Myths. My hope is that since I'll be in the country around the language so much that I'll pick it up relatively quick, even though it's an entirely different alphabet. Traveling between countries in Europe is cheap once you're actually there, a popular airline called RyanAir lets you fly from places like Athens to London for about 35 US dollars. I will be spending a week in Paris before moving into my apartment in Athens, and after that I had trips planned to England, Italy, and Scotland over the rest of the semester along with traveling to Greek islands on trips provided by my school there!
I'm so grateful for this opportunity and can't wait to share all about my experience!