Center for International Programs - Study Abroad

Student Profile: Alexa Tsaptsinos - Greece

Alexa Tsaptsinos

Major(s): Marketing & Communications

Abroad Program: SJU Summer Program- Greece 2013

Course: Ancient Greek Religion
Highlight: Crete beach
Best Excursion: St. Stephen’s Chapel Hike

Favorite Dish: moussaka/pastitsio/deep fried feta in philo with honey
Least Favorite Dish: meat stuffed vine leaves
Next Destination: hopefully Italy!

Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.

The most memorable excursion for me was definitely the hike to St. Stephen’s Chapel.  It hike itself was challenging and some of us even complained on the way up the mountain but we soon realized it was beyond worth it when we reach the final destination.  St. Stephen’s Chapel is a secluded little chapel inside a cave on the ocean.  After taking pictures of inside the chapel and signing our name in the log book we were able to jump off the rocks and go swimming inside the cave.  It was probably one of the best memories of my life, thus far.

What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?

Although it took some getting used to coming from the fast-past east coast, the laid-back atmosphere is one thing I learned to love about the Greek culture.  Around 2-3 pm shops would close for a large lunch and relaxation time.  This meant dinner was much later, around 9-10 pm, and the town was very much alive around midnight.  It was crazy to see people still going in the shops so late.  Also, no one was in a rush to leave their tables after they ate and often sat for hours talking with friends. By week two we all had adjusted to this lifestyle and really grew to love it.

How did the location enhance your academic experience?

Traveling from Athens through the islands of Greece enabled me to visualize the material we were covering in class.  It is one thing to see a photo or read an article describing the Parthenon, but walking through the entire Acropolis allows you to realize the magnitude of the structures. The site that most enhanced my academic experience was the Oracle in Delphi on Mt. Parnassus.  It was amazing to see the lengths and hills Ancient Greeks would travel to hear a message from the gods.  Also visiting the beaches in Crete helped me picture where the priests Apollo appeared to in the form of a dolphin originated from—not to mention they were beautiful too!

What was one fear you had before going? Would you have this same fear if you were going to study abroad again? Why or why not?

My initial fear before going on the Summer Tour of Greece 2013 was that I did not know anyone prior to departure.  I was assigned my roommate and was worried we wouldn’t be close.  For the first two days everyone kept to themselves, but before long when thrown into culture-shock all of us quickly opened up.  My experience was nice because it was ten girls so we were all able to go out to dinner together often.  We also planned our free weekends all together which made them even more fun since it was a larger group.  After my experience in Greece, if I were to study abroad again I would not be as worried about making friends because I’ve realize when living with people in a foreign country for a month it is nearly impossible not to become close as we share such amazing memories and experiences.  I know consider my friends from the trip some of my best friends. 


Alexa Tsaptsinos
Photo Taken by Alexa