Having the opportunity to study abroad in Greece for a month opened me up to new foods, new thoughts and new culture while pushing me out of my comfort zone and into an exploration of myself. Specifically, because of this program’s mobile nature, I discovered all the options of Greek life, urban, rural, beach and island, experienced the sincerity of Greek welcomes (known as “philoxenia”) many times at each of our destinations and performed SWOT analyses at every visit, bettering my understanding of the outstanding needs for these small towns and villages. I saw myself gaining a feeling of home in Greece this past month and, in my analyses and personal experience in our locations, felt a sadness in their dependencies on tourists from weak economics and politics. This study abroad trip was the perfect balance of cultural emergence, school and sight-seeing, and I am so grateful for the aid given to afford it.
Personally, I developed into a more worldly and understanding individual through the interactions I made with locals. During my last location, Karpathos, I made friends with some of the youth in the area. This allowed me to ask questions about growing up on a small and secluded island (the next closest island is eight hours away by ferry) and what life looks like for them moving forward. It was a very enlightening experience to make comparisons knowing all the amenities and opportunities I grew up with, especially when it comes to college. Since there is no college on Karpathos, for families to send their children to school they often have to sell their businesses, even though public college in Greece is free. Many are stuck because they can’t afford the housing, and it was sad to talk to my one friend who made it into school with high scores but could not go. My other friend was able to finance his stay but has not pushed himself in school and may not end up finishing his degree (a situation common for college attendees), landing him back on Karpathos for the rest of his life. The island was amazingly beautiful and cultivates a relaxing life, but it was eye opening to see that what they are doing now will be the rest of their lives.
Academically and professionally, I will be able to translate the political and economic discussions I had with my peers and professor into my comprehension of our own system. Witnessing social movement struggles first hand (many women’s marches and political party stands) and reading about the corruption in Greece’s government makes me more conscious of similarities in the United States and what to look for in leaders. Further, as I move into my career, the experiences of adapting to life abroad and conversing with people of very different backgrounds with be very useful since I will have a very high client facing job with a lot of travel.
Pitt Business benefits from having students with broader definitions of success and goals and first-hand experience seeing what people need around the world. My experiences will surely make an impact in my classroom settings where we discuss both global and domestic changes and markets. Thanks again for the help. Because of this program, I hope to continue to make traveling a part of my life so that I can further my international growth and ability to start a discussion with anyone.