O’Neill student Keeton Gibson reflected on her experience during the Athens program last summer.
Interested in studying abroad this summer? Applications close January 27.
What attracted you to the Athens summer program?
GIBSON: I was attracted to the Athens summer program because I’ve always wanted to visit Greece. Greece is one of those countries you grow up learning about due to their importance in ancient history, so it felt like I had known about it forever. Combine my desire to visit with the fact that the program is run by the Civic Leaders Center and I was hooked. I love the CLC, it made Indiana University feel like home to me, so knowing I was going to be surrounded by fellow Civics and CLC staff gave me the final push to apply and I’m so happy I did.
What advice would you give students who are hesitant about studying abroad?
GIBSON: I would say that I get it. Before this trip I had never been away from my family for more than two and a half weeks (I used going home as a crutch my entire freshman year) let alone that far away. But, you have to think about the experience you are going to get from it. I made some of my closest friends on my study abroad and we were so busy exploring that I barely felt the three weeks go by. I know that it can be stressful to go that far away for that long, but I can promise you that it’s worth it.
How has studying abroad benefitted you as a person?
GIBSON: Studying abroad has benefitted me in a number of ways. First of all, I am much more understanding of people who are dealing with language barriers. While a lot of people in Greece speak English, they do not necessarily speak it or understand it well. You have to learn to be patient and be very descriptive about what you want. Additionally, studying abroad proved to me that I can be away from family for longer than I thought. Lastly, I learned that sometimes the best things in your life happen by getting outside your comfort zone. When we first got to Greece I felt very out of my element, but eventually that feeling eased and I got to have the best three weeks of my life.
What is your favorite memory, story, or experience while studying abroad in Athens?
GIBSON: My favorite memory of my stay in Athens was when my friend group (and roommates) decided to host the study abroad staff (including our TA, CLC Director and Associate Director) for dinner. We spent our entire free afternoon cleaning the apartment and preparing dinner before inviting them over to eat. We managed to fit all of us out on the deck for the dinner and got to sit outside and chat for an hour or two while we ate. It was a really great experience to get to hang out with not only my friends but our staff as well and it was an awesome way to say thank you to them for helping put on the trip.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
GIBSON: I love to crochet. I only started this past summer after returning from my study abroad program, but I absolutely love it. It’s so much fun to get to create everything from decorative pumpkins to bookmarks.