Hello from Athens! This summer I am doing an internship in Greece through Princeton’s International Internship Program (IIP), and I am already almost done with my second week on the job. As is typical of the IIP placements, I will be working here for eight weeks, and I am having a wonderful experience both in terms of getting a taste of my future profession and experiencing another culture.
I’m interning at the College Year in Athens, a study abroad program for students in the United States to spend a semester in Greece. It is a fulfilling experience for me because I am pursuing a field in higher education administration, and I am interning with the director of academic affairs here. My boss has been great — she has been so helpful with everything from setting up my housing to making me feel very comfortable in the office. My work so far is going well, and I am looking forward to making some valuable contributions to the program during my two months here.
After the work day, I have evenings and weekends totally free to explore, and after being so busy with schoolwork, campus jobs and my involvement with student groups during the school year, having free time to just enjoy the city is a real treat.
What has surprised me most so far is how much I love Athens. Everything about it, from the weather to the food to the shopping, is nothing short of amazing, and the country is truly a crossroads between the West and the East. For instance, in the center of the city is the Monastiraki Square, a Turkish bazaar, and I love going to the Central Market of Athens to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. They sell anything that you could ever imagine and more, and the chaos of the meat hall and the amazing display of nuts and spices they sell is something that just must be seen firsthand.
And then there is the shopping district. Street markets and bazaars sprinkle all of the city’s meandering streets, and it's a shopper's paradise. In other words, I could easily spend my life savings here in just eight weeks! Here you can find a wide variety of leather products, fresh olive oil and honey, spoons and statues carved from olive wood, traditional komboloi (worry beads), copper pots, furs, beautiful handmade jewelry and exquisitely painted ceramics. It is also fun to bargain for deals like the Greeks.
Of course, I went to the Acropolis on my first Saturday here, and its beauty is simply unparalleled. The view from the ruins looking down on the city takes your breath away. I have to remind myself that I am really here and having this great experience.
I also have weekend trips booked to visit the islands of Mykonos and Corfu and to spend a night in the city of Thessaloniki, so I am making the most of my opportunity to see as much of Greece as possible. Between the work and the cultural experiences that I have had so far in Athens, I am loving my summer and am learning a lot both about myself and about another culture.