Tuesday, June 22

Today was one of my many favorite days so far. We had our language class at the farmer’s market, where they not only sold fruits and vegetables, but clothes and jewelry. We used our Greek to talk to the shop owners, and we’re able to successfully purchase and barter with them. To top the day off, we went to the president of the American College of Greece for a reception he hosted for us. His house was absolutely beautiful, and it was so generous of him to invite us. We had an amazing dinner, and all of us really enjoyed the experience.

– Julia brockett

Sunday, June 21

We started another day in paradise by attending morning liturgy together, an experience of a lifetime. I knew the church would appear different compared to our respective churches back home but I didn’t expect the outstanding architecture. I had never witnessed anything similar. The upstairs level provided an overview of the entire first floor, while still allowing us to sit comfortably. At certain points of the liturgy, it became very humid but with the doors open while it down poured rain, we cooled down. The gift shop was filled with meaningful souvenirs to bring home to family members. Towards the end of the liturgy, receiving communion was organized neatly due to the large amount of people in attendance. Once church ended, we quickly hopped on the bus and proceeded towards the Museum of Vergina. To this point of our trip, in my opinion, this proved to be the most interesting. The Museum of Vergina exhibited the tombs from the dynasty of Alexander the Great. We saw King Philip’s, Alexander’s father, tomb and Alexander’s son who was buried next to his grandfather. The most attention grabbing element was that the tombs hadn’t been moved. When the excavations happened, they kept the tombs in their place and built the museum around them. They were beautiful. The lights were dim and everyone was quiet which only contributed to the feeling of awe we all felt.

– John Teehan

Today, we started out by going to liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios. It was a very interesting experience to take part in a liturgy at such a historical church! After receiving communion, we went downstairs and looked at the catacombs. Next, we had a tour of Thessaloniki and went to Vergina and got the chance to see the tombs of people including Phillip II and the son of Alexander the Great. After going through the tombs, we got to have lunch in Thessaloniki and spend some time shopping at souvenir stores. It was a great way to spend our last full day in Thessaloniki!

– Alexandra Pallad

We started our last day in Thessaloniki by attending liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios church, the largest sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki – Saint Dimitrios. The church is among the most beautiful that I have ever been in. While I enjoyed attending the service, I was surprised at how much of a tourist destination Aghios Deimitrios is. Throughout the two hours we were there, people were coming and going from the church, which distracted from the service. It is not surprising, however, that Aghios Dimitrious attracts many people being that it is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites and it has a rich history.

After liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios we traveled to a small town called Vergina, where we visited the Museum of Royal Tombs, in which we saw the tombs of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II. The museum itself is hidden beneath an earthen mound, where an underground building encloses and protects the tombs. It was amazing to look at the belongings of Alexander and Philip, including armor and gold relics, and to gain an insight into the past.

– Nicole Wolfe

Following liturgy at the Aghios Dimitros, the group took a bus ride to Vergina to visit the tombs and treasures of Philip the 2nd and family. We learned a lot about Macedonian history from our amazing tour guide, who also answered many of our questions about Thessaloniki during the bus rides. Many students took the opportunity to explore the city during free time, before dinner at a local restaurant.

– Christina La Fleur

We started another perfect day by attending the liturgy at Aghios Dimitrios. The church and the service were both beautiful. I was very surprised to see that the words and order of the liturgy were nearly identical to the liturgy in the U.S. I was also surprised at how differently the communion service is in Greece as compared to in the U.S. At my church, everyone forms a single file line and the usher moves through the church and tells people when it is their turn to step in line. At Aghios Dimitrios, yiayiades were pushing  and shoving to make their way to the front of the mob, and everyone was in a rush to get their communion. The archbishop was there and there were cameramen everywhere recording his speech regarding the Greek economic crisis. After the service, we toured the catacombs under the church and were able to take pictures. Following the liturgy, we went to the Museum of Vergina where we saw the tombs and other artifacts from the time of Philip II and Alexander the Great. We learned a lot about Macedonia and the rule at the time. It amazed me that the tombs had not been moved from their original locations. We also had lunch and dinner, which were both flawless as usual.

– Alex Pavlakis

Saturday, June 20

On June 20, we had the opportunity to explore Chalkidiki, a region in Central Macedonia. Chalkidiki boasts beautiful beaches and mesmerizing marinas that demonstrate the peninsula’s prime location along the coastlines of the Aegean Sea. After arriving at Sithonia in the morning, we hopped on a large two-story boat and set sail on a maritime exploration. Anchoring three separate times, we were given the opportunity to swim in the Aegean Sea. Because of the excellent weather in conjunction with the refreshingly cool waters and calm waves, swimming in the Aegean Sea was an incredible experience. Afterwards, we walked on the beach and returned to Thessaloniki, where we dined at a nice restaurant in the Morihovou Square.

– William Agathis

Today was one of the best days in my entire life. When I think of a perfect day in Greece, I picture this day in my mind. We spent the entire day on a wooden sailboat touring the Chalkidiki’s second peninsula where we stopped at three different beaches and went swimming off the boat. The views from the boat were absolutely stunning with the turquoise waters of the Aegean contrasted with Chalkidiki’s rocky coastline. At each stop, the captain would anchor the boat and we would jump into the cool blue waters of the Aegean. The ocean was so clear that you could see the bottom from ten feet above the surface. When we returned to the boat we listened to music and Greek danced with the crew. After returning to shore, we went to a beach bar where we continued a near perfect day lounging on the beach with drinks and snacks. We had a late lunch on the beach and then returned to Thessaloniki to a tavern for a nice dinner and then strolled around the boardwalk before returning to the Capsis Hotel.

– Dimitris Roumeliotis

Our day began by waking up super early in the beautiful city of Thessaloniki. We ate a quick breakfast at the Capsis Hotel before embarking on a long two hour bus ride to a boat to tour the beautiful islands around Halkidiki. We boarded the boat around 9:30 AM and prepared to embark for a seven hour cruise around some of the islands. We stopped on four separate occasions in order to jump into the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. We were able to jump off of the boat with inner tubes and inflatables so that we could float around and relax with the entire Heritage Greece crew. While coming back into port, we all gathered inside the boat and participated in many different styles of Greek dances. I myself was pulled into the Zeimbekiko circle in order to dance. After showing off my otherwise horrid dance moves, we docked and walked swiftly to the beach bar where a super late lunch was going to be served. The group relaxed on the beach while our food was being prepared […] The dinner provided [at Kioupia Kouzina] consisted of either a burger, chicken fillet, or pork Souvlaki and as always was given to us after multiple courses. Already dressed for the night, everyone spread out and enjoyed the Thessaloniki nightlife, ending another great day with the crew and ending our first full week in Greece.

– Nick Theofilos

Although each and everyday has been amazing thus far, for me, my favorite day was the boat trip to Halkidiki. We woke up early in the morning and took an hour long bus ride to the small village Nakiti, where we boarded what looked like a vintage pirate ship. Throughout the day we anchored in different spots and jumped off the boat into the deep blue waters. The staff, who were all amazing, provided us with floats, and balls, to play with while we were in the water. And for those that remained on the boat, they weren’t guaranteed to stay dry as the Captain was running around shooting everybody with his water gun. The day would not be complete without Greek dancing. So as the trip neared its end, the first mate gathered us all in a large circle on the main level, and we danced […]. Overall, I could not have asked for a better day, and cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds.

– George Skelos

Today we went on a boat trip to Sithonia in Halkidiki our first full day of our Thessaloniki weekend excursion. Instead of the usual urban sprawl of Athens, we were able to see the flora and fauna of the region in its pristine untouched state. The water was a limpid teal, and the islands we passed a deep green. Seeing these sights reminded me why the Greek language has many words to describe light and blue hues: the richness of the language is truly reflected in the richness of the landscape of Greece.

Afterwards, we went to a restaurant/beach bar where had a large dinner together. On another note, some of us on the roughly hour and a half bus ride back home shared some music as well. One of the peers played the guitar while a few of us sang songs in both English and Greek. One of the best ways to learn about a culture is to listen to its music. This was therefore a great time to showcase similarities and differences between the two. For example, we realized that the Greek pop music lyrics have a certain poetry about them that is lost in most mainstream American pop music. Overall, today was a terrific day, and my favorite of the trip thus far!

– Lexy Prodromos


At around 6am, we departed by bus to Sithonia, where we arrived full of excitement about the day ahead of us. We sailed along the Aegean Sea, in awe at how crystal blue the water was. When we arrived at our first stopping point, everyone eagerly lined up to jump off the boat into the water. Whether throwing balls, lounging on blow up alligators, or dancing to the music playing from the boat, the thought going through all of our minds was, “This has to be a dream.” The beauty that surrounded us as we traveled to our next two anchoring points by Halkidiki continued to fill us with joy and pride to have roots in such an amazing country. The scenery truly took my breath away. To cap off an extraordinary journey, we Greek danced below the ship deck. It was a day I am confident none of us will ever forget.

– Alexi Nikolopoulos

It was our first full day in Thessaloniki and excited was an understatement. We awoke at 6 am and had a fruitful breakfast. After a nice 2 hour nap on the bus we arrived at the Harbor where we boarded our 16th century like Pirate ship. While on the boat we made three different stops to hop in the water. Each equally beautiful and unlike any other sight I’ve ever seen. The water was crystal clear and the bottom looked touchable when it was 30 feet deep. On our way home on the boat the crew members decided to start Greek dancing and even pulled in some participants to dance with them; I was chosen but sadly declined.

After 6 amazing hours on the boat we then pulled up to a beach side bar and had amazing pork and potatoes. For dinner we went to a local restaurant named Kuzina. Kuzina not only had top notch food but the atmosphere made the meal. After everyone ate we got up and started to Greek dance around the tables and even random locals jumped in! This day in general was probably my favorite day on the trip so far, and that’s saying a lot!

– James Theofilos

Traveling to Thessaloniki turned out as a wonderful expression of exploration and immersion deeper into my heritage. Upon arrival, we quickly settled into the hotel and attended a delicious dinner. A trip to the boardwalk filled me with a sense of nostalgia, as I always loved traversing seaside walkways whilst visiting California. The group ended up early in bed so that we could catch a few hours of sleep before the incredible boat excursion the next morning. I feel overwhelmed taking a bus to the port in the morning as we pass by gorgeous groves of fruit trees, forest and rock features alike, all the while near the sea.

Excitement builds as we make our way onto the massive water vessel, replete with speakers and snacks alike.
Words fail to capture the spirit of the trip through the Aegean. Wonder comes to mind, but also wanderlust, and a calm sensation felt as one rocks through wavy water. The water shone clear as a crystal sky, the islands lush and rocky paradises that cut through the surface of the sea. Birds fly around trees as we jump, dip and dive into impossibly lucid water. The captain of the ship makes himself at home with a freddo espresso and a super soaker that he unleashes amongst unknowing sea goers. I feel as though this trip stands out as the greatest experience I have had the grace to embark upon all year.
We then make our way back to land, and have a late lunch at an incredible seaside resort. I feel the rhythms of the sea for the rest of the day and well into the night. A bus ride takes us back into the city where we walk to a delicious dinner and a night to never forget.

Greece has opened me in many ways. It has allowed me to feel more comfortable around peers, it has brought me a sense of home, and it continues to surprise me with plants. I feel at home.

– Erich Eisenhart
Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability | 2015 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Today we had the chance for a once in a lifetime experience. We woke up rather early so that we could get on the bus to head to Halkidiki. Once we arrived, we hopped on a boat that resembled a pirate ship! Everyone was really excited. We made a few stops throughout our journey where we were able to jump off the boat, into the sea. It was an unforgettable view. We docked at a tavern right by the sea and had an amazing rest of the night. This, along with every other experience has been one that we will never forget.

– Mary Begakis

Friday, June 19

Today we had the first of our experiential language learning classes. As a beginner in the Greek language, I felt a bit nervous to test out what I had learned, but also proud at what I had accomplished in under one week. We ordered coffee and cookies, completely in Greek, and then listened to a lecture about Greek culture and society. After the discussion, we hopped on the bus, and headed to the train station to catch our 6 hour train to Thessaloniki. The train was a great opportunity to catch up on any sleep. After arriving in Thessaloniki, we checked in to our hotel, had dinner at the hotel, then went out for a stroll along the boardwalk. The city was packed with people, cafés, kiosks, and lively squares. The boardwalk offered a beautiful view of the city and the Aegean Sea. We had a little bit of free time to shop around, but a lot of us sat down and played guitar and sang by the water. It was a great way to end the day and a great start to a weekend in Thessaloniki!

– Marissa Morrow

Thursday, June 18

We had our Greek language class in the morning and free time before taking a bus to the Benaki Museum in Athens. The Benaki Museum is the largest museum in Greece that contains art and history from Ancient Greece until present day with over 40,000 items in its collections.

After a guided tour of the museum, Pavlos Yeroulanos spoke to the group. Yeroulanos was the former Minister of Culture and Tourism under George Papandreou. He spoke to the group about the Greek identity and Greek spirit as well as the origins of the current Greek crisis and shared ideas of how Greece may return to prosperity. Yeroulanos proposed celebrating the Ancient Greek ideals but let go of the idea that Greeks are all descendants of Aristotle and Plato. He urges Greece to celebrate the diversity and the contributions made to society by assimilated Greeks. Following the conversation, Yeroulanos joined us at a dinner at the Benaki Museum Terrace. We had a three-course meal with wine including shrimp and pork filet and an amazing σοκολατόπιτα dessert. We took some amazing photos of the group on the terrace overlooking all of Athens. It was a truly incredible night.

– Dimitrios Roumeliotis


After our fourth Language and Culture Class, we attended a Greek Culture Seminar at the American College of Greece. During the seminar we discussed our Greek heritage through the cultural differences between the time period and location of our roots in Greece. Our lecturer led the discussion with a sociological emphasis on the Greek economy and culture. After the seminar, we had delicious pastichio for lunch on campus. We had free time for the remainder of the afternoon – packing for our weekend trip to Thessaloniki, walking around Aghia Paraskevi, shopping, etc. For the evening, we visited the Benaki Museum. The museum provided a broad spectrum of art pieces to serve as a strong foundation for preserving the various time periods of Greece’s rich history. Former Minister for Culture and Tourism, Pavlos Geroulanos openly shared his insight for the future of Greece to our group at the museum. Following the guided tour, the evening ended with a rooftop dinner at the Benaki Museum. The view of the Acropolis paired with excellent authentic Greek dishes and desserts definitely connected us with our heritage.

– Vickie Poulimenos


Having never been to a museum before that was solely based on sports, it was a bit of a culture shock visiting the Acropolis and then the Benaki. After an underwhelming trip to the Acropolis (No offense Heritage Greece), I was a bit skeptical about another museum visit. My skepticism was set aside shortly thereafter. I was immediately impressed with the appropriate spacing of the exhibits and the slightly dimmer lighting. The tour guide was very enthusiastic from start to beginning and was very knowledgeable throughout. I enjoyed these exhibits significantly more than the Acropolis because the Benaki museum offered up more of a variety than just sculptures. I was extremely intrigued by the tools, weapons and jewelry that was on display. Everything I saw caught my attention and I was eager to see the next exhibit. After a very informational presentation about the Benaki Museum and its effects on Greece, we had a delightful dinner on the Benaki Museum roof. Even though I was skeptical leading up to the visit, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Benaki museum and I will try my best to return to the museum in the future.

– Jeremy Sneed


We began the day with our Greek classes, and then a group culture seminar that largely focused on the macroeconomic situation in Greece today.  After an extended free time of napping, studying, and swimming, the group headed to the Benaki museum for a tour and dinner on their beautiful terrace overlooking Athens. Everyone agreed that we would have loved to have spent the whole day and exploring the museum’s collection.

– Christina La Fleur

Wednesday, June 17

This morning we went to our Greek language class and continued learning common expressions and sayings. There were several ACG peers in the classroom as well to help us out which was nice.  After that we went straight to the beach! This was probably the highlight of the day because the beach we went to was private and had its own swimming pool as well! The food was great and the place was beautiful! We then stopped to see Poseidon’s Temple for about an hour. The view was amazing and the tour guide explained its background story. We came back to the residence complex around 9pm and had pizza for dinner. Overall, very relaxing and beautiful day!

-Elena Michaelides

Another amazing day in the Greece! We started off the morning by heading over to class and learning more about the Greek language and culture. After class was over, we went to a breathtaking beach and spent a lot of time there; it was private and had extremely clear, shallow water. Everyone seemed to enjoy this part of the trip because it allowed us to bond as a group in a very calm environment. After we were finished at the beach, we went to the Temple of Poseidon and spent a long them learning about its rich history. The view was incredible and the tour guide had bountiful information to share with the group. As the day ended, the group ate pizza for dinner (surprise!) and then everyone went their separate ways for the rest of the evening.

-Jordan Eva Mavrakos

Wednesday was an incredible day!! After our language and culture classes we all couldn’t  wait to quickly jump onto the bus for Σουνιο. As soon as we arrived, we were eager to find ourselves in a hidden paradise where we could find a luxurious pool that was on the shore of the coastline. Frappes were drank, hamburgers were eaten, and it was a beautiful time! Next we went all the way to Poseidon’s Temple with the most beautiful drive that one can imagine. To the right were the majestic hills sprinkled with trees and the left one could see the vast sea teeming with boats. As we arrived we quickly were captivated by the strong columns that were so magnificent! We returned home to a nice pizza dinner! Today was a very beautiful day!!

-Gabriella Christy

Tuesday, June 16

Today was a very exciting day exploring the Acropolis.  From the top of the Acropolis we could see Athens and the Aegean Sea.  The tour guides we had were very informative and were able to blend together the Acropolis’ history and its influence on Greek mythology.  It was amazing to see all the restoration efforts on the Parthenon.  Our tour guide told us that the restoration project will be complete sometime in 2020 and I hope I can travel to Athens again when it is completed.  It was amazing to see that the Acropolis was as amazing as the photos my YiaYia took in the early 1950s.

-Dimitria Yeannakopoulou

A lot of people are focusing on the Acropolis, which was awesome, so I am going to focus on class and the food! In class today after only 2 lessons, I was finding that I could actually sort of read Greek letters and pronounce words correctly. That was so exciting for me! As for food, today for lunch after seeing the Acropolis and the Parthenon, we went to a rooftop tavern at a restaurant. All of the meals we have had so far have been multiple courses and really delicious. The first thing we had today I didn’t know the name of, but it seemed like vegetarian mousaka. Then we had regular mousaka, followed by a beef dish and ending with baklava and ice cream! It was all delicious, although my favorite part is always the feta. For dinner we had carry out souvlaki in the dorms, which was also extremely delicious! I cannot wait for the rest of this trip, it has already been incredible.

-Haroula Tzamaras

Today (Tuesday June 16th-our fourth day here) we went downtown and visited the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Although the heat was almost unbearable as we were climbing up to the top of the Acropolis, it was an unforgettable experience. It was amazing learning more about the history of the Parthenon and truly understanding how this monument symbolizes Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy, western civilization, and our ancestors. After we were finished with our tour we went to a roof top restaurant for lunch with a breathtaking view of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens. The abundance of history that was reflected throughout the day made me even prouder to be Greek.

-Juliana Barounis

Yesterday, we visited the Acropolis, arguably one of the most historic spots in the world. We got a different perspective of the sites with a tour about Greek mythology. From the top, there are incredible views of the whole city, and it was an incredibly powerful sight. We ended the day with a delicious traditional Greek meal and a trip to the new Acropolis museum, which only deepened the cultural experience.

-Kathryn Stefos (παρέα)

I missed the beginning of the tour but had the opportunity to spend three hours at the Acropolis Museum. Many buildings to various Gods have graced the Acropolis over the past few thousand years. This museum contains artifacts from both major and minor temples that have been found on the Acropolis over the centuries. Located on the slope going up to the first floor are the items found on the slopes of the Acropolis. Some of the most interesting artifacts where Vases called Loutrophor decorated with wedding scenes that where gifted to the Goddess Nymphe, who was the protectress of marriage and wedding ceremonies. On the first floor was the remains of an elaborate temple that predated the Parthenon. Which was destroyed during the Persian invasion in 450 BCE. After the war the pieces were subsequently buried to make way for a new structure.  On this floor there were also the kora girls that were statue gifts to the gods. And the Kritios boy one of the most important statues ever made. As it was one of first statues to break the tradition of rigid formality in favor of showing natural movement. On the second floor there is an incredible restaurant with views of the Parthenon. I highly recommend going there if you get the chance. And, on the third floor are the statues of the Erechteion and the Parthenon reliefs most of which are plasters of the ones in the British museum. Both beautiful in their own right.

-Anastasia Adams

Monday, June 15

After waking up to birds and sunshine, I took a walk down to the market near the dormitories. After exchanging minimal, yet significant Greek, I purchase fresh apricots and gleefully share them with friends as we make our way to campus for class. After an walk through this incredible campus, peers and I finally make it to the classroom, greeted by our wonderful teacher Ms. Artemis. She encourages us to take on fully the Greek culture while we travel here, and to let fear go in order to immerse further. We recite the alphabet, and finish class near noon.

Next, our group walks downstairs to take part in a Greek dancing class. Although I struggle with the group dances, as i tend to when dances require rhythm, I let go a little bit when we solo dance. The sun feels incredible against my skin, and with a view over the neighborhood from campus, we dance ourselves all the way to lunch at the campus cafeteria.

After spending free time running errands in the neighborhood, the group dresses and makes our way to a winery in order to visit, dine and try wine. The density of plant life leaves me speechless, and I cannot help but run through vines as the sun sets. I feel as though agriculture, if conducted sustainably and responsibly, carries the capacity to rejuvenate a nation. We taste four types of wine and settle into an incredible dinner. After more dancing, I walk outside to look at the stars and can’t help but shed a tear for the beauty abound. What a day, indeed.

-Erich Eisenhart
Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability | 2015 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday was a very fun day!! First, we were divided into our 3 classes based on our understanding of Greek. Then we had the most awesome experience at our Greek dancing lesson, whether you need nothing or had years of experience, everyone was able to get their feet moving to the beat of the music! It was so nice to even see some people test out the Zimbekiko! Next we were lucky enough to visit a very beautiful winery, Papayiannakos. It was very educational in that we learned all about the process of making wine, then of course the tasting was very delicious! The meal was the best I’ve ever had for myself and the dancing there was magnificent as the sun set! We had the most beautiful evening!

-Gabriella Christy

Monday morning began with the first of our language and culture classes. We split into three different levels. There, we began learning our the Greek language and also the rich culture that comes along with it. After classes finished for the day, we all walked to a different part of ACG’s picturesque campus and together learned the basics of a few particular Greek dances. Some of these dances were “Hasaposerviko”, “Nissiotiko” and the most commonly known “Kalamatiano”. We soon realized that Greek dancing is a very social activity and has a way of bringing people together. There is even a dance that we learned solely led by the improvisation of brave individuals. Expressing oneself in this way is something that brought comfort to many during times of sadness or joy to those simply celebrating life. After roughly two hours of jumping around in a humid, 95 degree day in Athens, we were able to replenish a bit during lunch in ACG’s cafeteria.

Later that night, we loaded the bus and drove to Mesogeia in Attica to a family owned winery by the name Papayiannikou. They were kind enough to invite us into their home for a short wine tasting and dinner to follow. The view outside of their house was breathtaking as it overlooked their vineyard as well as the city of Athens. Mr. Papayiannikou showed us the basics of wine tasting as we tried two different kinds of white wine, one Roset and one red wine. Out of all the wines, the first white wine served, Sabbatiano, seemed to score the best. Sabbatiano is a grape indigenous to Greece and is a favorite among many. Towards the end of our visit at the winery, essentially a test of all the dances we had learned earlier took place. Feeling the energy in the room, it felt as though our group was coming together more and more. This day was an incredible start to the week, and there is so much more to come!

-Stephany Prodromos

Today was wonderful. I got to use some Greek at the Farmer’s Market in the morning, attended my first class at the American College of Greece, learned some Greek dances, and my favorite activity of the day, visited a breathtaking winery. While the winery itself was gorgeous, the wine delicious, and the food tremendous, above all, the company was what made the night. As I danced hand in hand with the other Heritage Greece participants and peers, I quickly realized there was no where else I’d rather be. Every day on this journey has been amazing.. I can only imagine what else is in store for me!

-Pamela Costis

Saturday – Sunday, June 13-14

Today, I met the people that I’ll be spending the next two weeks with for the first time. We began our journey with a wonderful dinner on top of the AHEPA headquarters in Washington DC which- I won’t lie- was quite overwhelming. Everyone was filled with excitement that they get to meet 50 new amazing Greek American students but also filled with nervousness for the very same reason. Fifty new names to remember? it seems harder than it sounds. Everyone was unbelievably welcoming, as we’re the leaders of the program. It was clear that everyone was looking forward to the next two weeks in their homeland. My peers and I tried our best to sleep on the 9 hours total on the planes, but some we’re more successful than others. Gradually we got to learn more and more about where each of us were from and what we do throughout the planes and reception- each participant seems eager to learn and experience what this country had to offer.

-Demi Kouvaris
Watermelon group

After a long plane ride to Greece, we were all tired, naturally, but at the same time very excited to arrive in our ancestral country and enthusiastic for the adventure ahead!  We were greeted by helpful ACG students, who assisted us in moving in to our apartments and instilled further confidence in us about how fun and rich this experience would be.  The chefs at ACG cooked a delicious souvlaki dinner for us, where we had the chance to meet and spend time with more ACG students as well as our American peers.

The next day, we visited the Marathon Tomb and learned about the Battle of Marathon, in which the Athenians defeated invading Persian forces, despite being heavily outnumbered.  This outcome was very important in history, for Western Civilization as we know it today would not exist had Athens lost the Persian Wars.  Afterwards, we visited the beach and ate lunch at nearby Schoinias, which proved to be a very relaxing part of the trip.  The water was clean, cool, and refreshing.  It was just what we needed as we recovered from jet lag and the time difference.

Finally, following a tour of the campus and the surrounding neighborhood of Agia Paraskevi, we all gathered for dinner at a Cretan tavern.  From the delicious salata (salad), moussaka, patates (oven-roasted potatoes), souvlaki, kefthedes (Greek-style meatballs), and dessert, we tasted why Greek cuisine is so renowned in the USA and many other parts of the world!  Overall, the first few days of the program were filled with plenty of helpful educational insights, delightful Greek cuisine, and excellent friends and company!

-John Banas

Saturday was mostly a blur for me with all the traveling and exhaustion that ensued, but I think even though we were all tired and sick of airplanes by Saturday evening we were also all ecstatic to be in Greece! The welcome reception was lovely and the best part was getting to meet our ACG peers for the first time. One of the best parts of this program so far has been the opportunity to get to know people our age from Greece because it’s a wonderful way to learn more about the culture from a more relatable perspective, and also a great way to practice our Greek! I couldn’t believe how warm and friendly all the peers were to us that first night (and still are!). They had only just met us but already I was able to have conversations with them and found myself laughing at their jokes. The next day, Sunday, we got to spend at the beach, which is personally one of my favorite things about Greece. The water was breathtaking and the sun felt amazing. The perfect first full day in Greece!

-Antigone Delton

The welcome barbecue on Saturday night was very fun. The food was delicious and I made many new friends quickly. We ate souvlakia and patates and much more! The ACG peers are very friendly and fun to talk to. I really am getting the full experience of Greece by having them with me. I am more than excited to see what the rest of this trip has to offer me!

-Eoanna Ragias
Watermelon group