Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Rob Hochschild (Page 1 of 2)

Athens: How are Your Backgammon Chops?

After reading a prompt and heartfelt comment to the last blog post, I had to write one final post. The comment was penned by Christos, an Athens business owner and pal to several Berklee students. My not mentioning Christos in one of the prior posts is a massive oversight because he was one of the locals that really made the Boston-based crowd feel like they had carved out a home away from home.

Christos waits for his opponent to make her move (Sabrina is in the darkness).

Christos owns Rezin, an inviting little haunt about a five-minutes walk south of the Nakas school, in the hip student-dominated neighborhood of Exarchia. Heavily tattooed 20-somethings and others huddle around tables sipping cocktails or Christos’s extraordinary hot chocolate. You notice two things shortly after entering the joint: the thumping (and for me, familiar) sound of all the great rock bands, from the Stones to the Jam to Rage Against the Machine; and the massive posters—rare photos of rock stars like Hendrix, Lennon, and others—lining the walls. An immediately comfortable environment for, I would guess, a large majority of Berklee students.

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The Word Maven of Athens

A few weeks have passed since we all returned from Athens, but after bumping into one of the Berklee students in Athens back here on campus, I felt compelled to do one final blog post about last semester’s trip.

Much as they might have wished they could resist the well-worn quip, some of Berklee’s students in Athens last semester walked out of their twice-weekly language class at some point muttering to each other, “It’s all Greek to me.” It was funny the first few times, but eventually, they were faced with the cold, hard realization that Greek was the toughest class they had at Nakas and it wasn’t getting much easier as the semester wore on. Despite the challenges of a new alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar, each of the students knew enough to get by. They could certainly order food and ask for directions.

But to the group, one student stood out as their go-to Greek language expert, the one who could always get them out of a jam when they the deltas and gammas looked like stick figures. That person was music education major Jen O’Shea.

Jen O'Shea, on bouzouki.

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Athens: Of Snow and Spots

After four beautiful days of sunshine and highs in the mid-70s, the weather took a decidedly New English turn on Friday and Saturday of my week in Athens. Snowflakes sprinkled down and cold winter winds whipped into our faces. Goodbye Mediterranean feel, hello Vermont in February. But it didn’t slow things down on Saturday for the Berklee crowd, especially student violinist Adam Moskowitz, who performed Mozart and Schubert in a morning recital; and Ben Thomas, who played a jazz gig into the wee hours.

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Allee in Athens: Signomi!

Allee Futterer is not shy. At 19, she is the youngest Berklee student in the Athens program, but she is always the first to start a conversation with a complete stranger. I’m not sure if signomi (excuse me) is the first Greek word she learned, but I’ve sure seen her use it a lot, as she asks for coffee or someone’s name.

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Finding a New Beat in Athens

Most people say that traveling abroad “expands their horizons,” but for Berklee voice student Ratasha Huff, being in Athens is providing experiences that go well beyond the implications of that three-word cliché.

We sat down to talk in the café at Nakas conservatory and when I asked how it’s been studying abroad for a semester in Athens, she talked first, not about music, but about culture and politics. “I have a much better understanding of my country’s impact on the world—some in good ways and some not,” said Ratasha, who calls Charlotte, North Carolina her hometown. “I was already aware of this, but to be here and talk to people, do my own research, has really been an education.”

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