Students studying abroad through Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) Greece attend City University of Athens, a Greek liberal arts university of about 400 undergraduate students modeled after a typical American college. Some of the most popular majors to attend VeCo are in the business, communications, history, modern languages, and political science departments; however, there are also courses available for students studying biology, philosophy, and sociology and anthropology as well as opportunities for students to fulfill their Elizabethtown College Core Program courses. Classes at the college are all taught in English besides modern language classes; however, French classes are available and recommended for students with no prior language experience. American students register for classes by signing up for them before leaving for Belgium, but they may add or drop classes once there. There are no classes at VeCo designed specifically for study abroad students, so the majority of study abroad students' classes will be with Belgian students.
"The school is not very organized or well-rounded in its curriculum, so be prepared to fill many of your core classes while there. Greeks are very relaxed when it comes to putting together your schedule or planning anything for that matter, so try and be patient and easy-going. The classes themselves were fairly easy and had a few Greek students in them. You would be surprised the number of classes that Greeks do NOT attend." (Kelly Lurz '11)
Students who study abroad in Greece often recommend buying a cell phone in Greece in order to communicate primarily with study abroad friends. The most common telephone companies from which students will buy cell phones include Proximus, Mobistar, and Base. Most students buy pay-as-you-go phones, which cost on average about €30, and students buy additional minutes as necessary throughout their semester abroad. Students recommend communication with family and friends in the United States through Skype or a similar video chat program. Internet access in the past at students' apartment buildings has not been very consistent; however, if they do not, City University has a computer lab. There is a post office near the university and most students have mail delivered directly to their host family's house.
"We all bought phones, which did come in handy, but by the end of the semester, since pay-as-you-go minutes don't last long and no one wanted to put any more money on theirs, we all stopped using them. If your group decides it's best to get phones, please all go to the same place. Otherwise your plans will be different and you won't be able to talk to one another for free." (Kelly Lurz '11)
"The apartments hardly had Internet, so communication was not as easy as we thought it would have been. In our apartment, you had to stand out on the balcony in a specific spot to get extremely slow Internet. We did, however, find an Internet café that had free Internet and we also used the school computers." (Andrea Lynch '11)
"There were definitely some things to get used to, from turning on the water heater a half hour before taking a shower to not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet to the differences in food. But those things should not turn people away from Athens because they are so small in the overall scheme of things. And you get so used to them as well, which added to reverse culture shock when coming home. Since we had gotten so used to doing those things, they became second nature to us." (Victoria Kamouh '11)
BCA Greece students are also invited to attend the weekend-long BCA-sponsored International Student Conferences in Derry, United Kingdom for fall semester students and in Strasbourg, France for spring semester students. The conferences are open to all students studying abroad in a European country through BCA and feature speakers related to divided societies for fall-semester students and American-European relations for spring-semester students.
The vast majority of Elizabethtown students studying abroad in Greece choose to use their American bank accounts in Greece and not open a separate Greek account. Automatic telling machines (ATM) are widely available throughout the country, but it is important to remember when withdrawing cash from ATMs that there will be transaction fees of varying amounts depending on the bank. Most students recommend taking out large sums of cash infrequently to avoid paying these potentially large fees. It is also important to keep currency conversion in mind as you travel to Greece. The official currency of Greece is the euro, which can widely fluctuate with the American dollar. Most Elizabethtown students spent between $3,000 and $5,000 on personal travel and other expenses.
The BCA resident director is Aphrodite.
"Aphrodite is awesome! She's like our mom when we are there. She is crazy though; probably her favorite line is, 'You don't know this because you are young and stupid; I know this because I am old and wise.'" (Victoria Kamouh '11)