When I discovered that I was chosen as the Laurier student to intern abroad this semester I was thrilled, and almost couldn’t believe it was real. I had heard about this opportunity in my first year, but didn’t expect to able to come to Athens myself. The months leading up to it were filled with excitement, and anxiety about living abroad alone for the first time. Before I left, my friends would joke around and say that I would get lost and not be able to understand anything because it will “All be Greek to me.” They weren’t wrong. Even though that phrase previously filled me with anxiety, that feeling has been replaced with excitement as I hear it again. Getting lost in a foreign country and mispronouncing Greek words so badly you get the wrong coffee is part of the journey. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity to intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece. It has allowed me to expand on my personal and professional growth.
During my time at the Canadian Institute I had two main tasks to complete. The first one was reorganizing, and digitizing documents for the institute’s archives. Some of the documents were scanned, and others were not. The first step in this process was creating an excel sheet to take an inventory to see if the electronic and physical copy of the documents were both present. If they were not, then often the physical copy had to be scanned. Once all of the papers were accounted for they had to be placed in an organized manner. The institute has been through various name changes in Greece and Canada. I placed the documents in the corresponding category, based on the chronology of the institute’s name changes, physically and electronically. The second task included odd jobs such as preparing food for the lectures, hostel laundry, and picking up books for the library.
When I was finished working for the day I took the time to explore Athens. I loved living in a city much bigger than Waterloo. Luckily the Metro was easy to figure out and was my main mode of transportation in the city. There was an abundance of new food, tavernas, and shopping to try. On top of this, living here is an archaeologist's dream with all of the ancient sites to explore. There are far too many places to mention that I traveled to in the city but the highlights include the Parthenon, both Agoras, the Temple of Zeus, the National Archaeological Museum, the Cycladic Museum, and the National Gardens. During my time here I met a previous intern, Holly, from 2017, who liked Athens so much she never left and now considers herself a local. It was nice knowing someone who was already familiar with Greece to show me around. She introduced me to my favorite experience in Athens which was seeing a concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus under the Acropolis. We saw a symphony performed, and they used no microphones, to mimic the ancient acoustics. It was truly an amazing experience.
My work week was Monday to Friday which left me with weekends to explore other parts of Greece. Some were solo trips and others were with the Fellow at the institute, my roommate, Holly, or someone from home. The highlights of my weekend trips away include Aegina, Cape Sounion, Hydra, Nafplio, Vouliagmeni Lake, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Knossos, Delphi, and Mykonos. One of my favorite places from this list was Hydra. It was the most charming island, with no modes of transportation other than donkeys or water taxis. I never mastered the Greek way of crossing streets, making it a relief to not have a fear of getting hit by a scooter for a weekend! The island itself was also beautiful.
I really enjoyed my time at the Canadian Institute. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience a new culture, and visit so many beautiful, interesting places while gaining knowledge about them. Working here also allowed me to make friends and meet so many new people while falling in love with Greece. It made me more independent as a person and sharpened my sense of direction as well! I definitely want to return to Greece in the future!
Wilfrid Laurier University intern, autumn-winter 2018