Honored by many as the “birthplace of Western civilization,” Greece boasts over 70,000 years of human history and development, and is home to one of the oldest living cultures on earth. Students traveling to Greece will find that a richly varied geography, a long-established archeological tradition, a modern society and bustling economy are just some of the reasons that make Greece a fascinating place to study.
By about 3,000 B.C. the Minoan Crete civilization had been established, leading to the rise and dominance of a united and distinct Hellenic culture throughout the Mediterranean and European regions in 1100 B.C-700 A.D. During this period, Greek philosophers, mathematicians, politicians, athletes, authors, artists, artisans, soldiers and orators built a deep and rich foundation of tradition that has arguably been the most important informant of Western civilization to the present day, including the pervasive presence of Greek-origin words in English. Today, some of that culture exists in tangible form as ruins, monuments, literature and archeological finds. Students of archeology, the classics, politics/global relations, linguistics, history, philosophy, poetry and other forms of literature, mathematics and religion will find a study abroad term in Greece to be essential as well as enlightening.
Students may also be surprised to find that modern Greece has as much to offer as remnants of the ancient culture. As a member of the European Union, Greece is uniquely positioned as a participant in both the European and Mediterranean economies. It has experienced rapid growth – 4.7% in 2002, the fastest in the EU – and infrastructure development, due in part to its role in hosting the Summer 2004 Olympics and its success in limiting inflation in the mid-90s. Furthermore, since about 70% of its GDP comes from services, particularly tourism, students of business and economics interested in tourism and modern development may find Greece to be a fascinating study.
One current issue of importance to the Greek government is the political status of Cyprus. The location of a turbulent political legacy, Cyprus is currently occupied by a Greek majority in the southern part of the island and a Turkish majority in the north. Evident of a centuries’ old feud between the Greeks and Turks, Cyprus still suffers from political tensions between the two groups and the U.N. is in the process of negotiating a reunification. Those studying international relations, peace and conflict studies, and mediation would likely find Greece to be an ideal modern day case study.
Finally, there are few study abroad locations that can rival Greece for its natural beauty, good food, lively social and cultural scene, and year-round sunshine and warmth. Imagine walking down a 5,000 year old street, admiring the Pantheon from a distance or viewing the ruins of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Colossus) while learning about the illustrious ancient Greek city of Rhodes. As a study abroad student to Greece, this could be just one of dozens of unforgettable experiences that will likely influence the remainder of your college experience.