Meet Katie Skinner, who spent her summer studying abroad in Greece. Learn more about her experience, including what her classes were like, what it was like to adjust to be in a different country and insights into what it’s like to study abroad in this edition of “Where in the World was VCU?”
Can you start by telling me your name, year and major?
Katie Skinner, senior and psychology
Where in the world did you go this summer?
I was in Greece! I stayed in Athens mostly, where I took classes but I spent a weekend in the Greek islands.
Why did you choose Greece?
I chose Greece because of what I heard about their VCU study abroad program. I heard about the awesome psychology classes that their host university had and was lucky enough to take two. I also have never been to Europe and was excited about the idea of being in Greece. I was mostly interested in doing something completely different than I’ve ever done before.
Was it difficult to adjust being in a different country?
A little bit! I diffused some of the challenge by knowing I was only there for a month so I didn’t have to adjust fully, if that makes sense. It was like a long vacation. But yes, it was hard not being able to understand the language at all and having to figure out customs and public transportation. Those two were the biggest challenges.
What were the classes you took like? Were they easier or harder than the ones at VCU?
The classes were about the same difficulty. However, I feel like we were not loaded with as much “busy work” there. I didn’t get much homework, and was expected to deeply understand core concepts instead of memorizing a thousand facts. We did NOT have multiple choice, even! All exams were in essay format! I feel like I learned better that way, having to walk into a test ready to explain big ideas rather than having a million facts memorized.
What was your most memorable experience there?
The most memorable experience by far was the food. Every dish was made with love and respect for the culture and it was clear that Greeks really love food and care about how they go about it.
What did you miss most about the US?
I mostly missed the familiarity. Knowing the city and being able to speak the language. I missed feeling comfortable and all my usual spots in the US. Don’t get me wrong, traveling is exciting, but I definitely missed being able to speak the language and know where I’m going without getting lost! I missed feeling at home.
Do you ever wish you could go back? Would you want to do it again?
I would definitely go back! I spent a month there and while it was four weeks, I still feel like I barely glossed over the country and it’s culture. I would want to go with a different group of people or by myself to get a different perspective. There’s so much to do and see (and eat!) there.
Do you have any advice for any students wishing to study abroad?
I would say look around and pick the program that calls to you. We obviously can’t afford to go everywhere every time but weigh the risks and benefits. I wanted to study abroad ever since I started college but had to wait my senior year because this one worked best for me. I’m obviously in debt and broke from this trip, but I had a long talk with myself on whether or not it was worth it – and it was.