Geia sas from Athens, Greece! I’m here gearing up for another semester of the Berklee Study Abroad program. The students have been arriving the past couple days to start their semester, hosted by the Philippos Nakas Conservatory, a Berklee International Network partner school.
It’s my third time visiting Athens, and as I walk around the city I think way back when to my first trip to Athens while I was a study abroad student in Paris. Tidbit of advice #1 for studying abroad: walk everywhere, as much as you can. It’s the best way to discover the city–your new favorite café or museum or vista might be waiting around the corner.
A “quick stop” to Nakas yesterday to touch base with the staff there turned into a long visit, in typical Greek fashion (“five minutes” is never just that!). But the pace of life here can be refreshing. It’s a very busy city, yet unhurried in the sense that people are more relaxed about things and genuinely interested in sharing with others. You sit down, you have a coffee, you engage in the social connection.
I caught up with Maria Papadopoulou, one of the administrators who works closely with the Berklee students, and who asked excitedly about past and future students. (A large photo card from last semster’s BSA group sits in director Leonidas Arniakos’ office, just one indication of the Berklee students’ close connection with the staff and faculty here.) Leonidas told me about a successful recording project last semester’s students completed that will become a regular fixture of the program. And when I finally made my way downstairs, I found Alex Trampas (one of our Berklee student employees who is an Athens native and himself a Nakas graduate) immersed in conversation with his old private instructor from his Nakas days. With small classes and this very personal interaction, Nakas is a place where Berklee students often make strong connections that last well past their semester abroad.
More to come as this spring’s student group get settled in and starts sharing their first impressions in this exciting first week!
Interested in pursuing your own study abroad experience in Athens or in Freiburg, Germany (check out Danielle Dreilinger’s posts from her visit to Semester in Freiburg last fall)? Applications are open now! Visit http://www.berklee.net/ip/bsa.html to apply.