Study exchange Greece - Lucie Bydžovská

11/26/2014

If I had to evaluate my stay in Athens, the words I could use would be amazing and unforgettable. Not only that, I met with great friendly people from many parts of the world, and I also learned about Greek culture.

​First Steps
I heard about the Erasmus study programme during my Bachelor's programme, not only from classmates, but also from my sending university, which informed us about this possibility on their website. It took a long time to decide and make use of this programme and go abroad. I submitted the application and waited for the decision of the university that allowed me to go. Furthermore, it was necessary to send the application to the selected university and wait on its decision.
At my home university, I did not receive any preparatory course, as the study of the T.E.I. of Athens was in English and I have been studying English for several years. Of course, there is an opportunity to attend a preparatory course, if you are interested. You can fill this information in the learning agreement (on this form you select the items that you want to study at the host university). In Athens, there is a possibility to attend a preparatory course of Greek; the receiving institution usually sends emails with information regarding these courses.
Greece is not so close, so I opted to travel directly by air. I bought a return ticket, which ended up being cheaper than if I had bought the flights separately.
  
How to find accommodation?
T.E.I. of Athens, unfortunately, does not provide student accommodation, but that does not mean you will not get any help. The ESN organization operates in Greece among other places. ESN is a student organization that helps students on Erasmus stays not only find accommodation, but also explore the culture and all the other things around the school. Each student gets assigned a “buddy”, who will help with these things. It always depends on the person you get. I was very lucky because my buddy was really unselfish, friendly and really helped us with everything.
Finding accommodation is not easy. You have several options. The first one is to join the Facebook groups such as accommodation Erasmus or Erasmus Athens 2013 to 2014. Type an ad that you are looking for accommodation then the owners will contact you themselves. With a classmate, I found a really nice apartment at a reasonable price (200 € / person / month). Another option is to accept the help of ESN and similar organizations. You will receive an email containing a link to a form where you fill in the location where you want to stay, price range and with whom you would like to share. When choosing an apartment, its location is really important because some areas in Athens are not so safe.

 

School
T.E.I. of Athens is very similar to the school system at our university. The only significant difference is the evaluation of tests and projects. The trademark scale has ten marks,  i.e. 1-10, with 10 corresponding to excellent and the minimum grade to pass the fifth credit system is the same as in other European countries. The majority of subjects required students to prepare an essay or project and then pass the exam. Studies are in English and the more adventurous can write the basics of Greek.
 
Catering
I was really surprised by the catering possibilities in Athens, because we had the opportunity to go to the school canteen. In which we had breakfast, lunch and dinner free seven days a week. It is necessary to have a special student card for the cafeteria in order to use this service. We could always choose from two main meals plus appetiser or soup, salad, fruit and jelly. We really weren’t starving. One canteen is directly at the school and the other is located in the centre (Kritis 10). Of course we cannot have missed the typical Greek cuisine, gyros and kebab available on every corner and usually around € 2.

 

Travel and public transport
Athens is not the smallest, but luckily there are several ways of travelling such as metro, buses, trams and trolleybuses. A student ticket for 90 min costs 70 cents and applies to all types of transport. I bought a monthly card that for a student costs around 25 €.Travel was comfortable as it was not necessary to hunt for small coins and validate each ticket.
Travelling around Greece is an unforgettable affair. From Athens there are at hand not only plenty of beautiful islands, but also on the mainland you can find amazing places such as Meteora. The island is reached mainly by ferry, but you can certainly buy a plane ticket. Sometimes a plane ticket will even be cheaper than a ticket for the ferry. We managed to buy a return ticket to Rhodes for 37 €. A student discount is available virtually everywhere, so tickets are half the price and entry to museums and other historic sites are free.

 

Money
When it comes to money, the financial grant covers roughly about 70% of the cost. If a person really counts every cent, stays all the time in the apartment and eats only in the cafeteria, the grant may be sufficient. But it would not be the right Erasmus experience. Of course, if you want to travel, it is necessary to dip into your own savings. The cost of the apartment is between 200-300 €/month and the amount of the grant is € 359, so it is really necessary to contribute something of your own.

If I had to evaluate my stay in Athens, the words I could use would be amazing and unforgettable. Not only that, I met with great friendly people from many parts of the world, and I also learned about Greek culture. I think I chose a great country, city and university. It is true that in Greece, everything takes a little longer than in other countries, but everyone can get quickly used to this. The experiences that I have gained during this stay, nobody can take and I'm really happy. The semester in Athens gets from me a mark of ten – the best.


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