Snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. Hiking to the peak of a mountain 4,500 feet above sea level. Waiting two hours for your lunch order to arrive.
SJC’s study abroad trip to Greece had more than its share of memorable moments. But, much like the delayed arrival of a delicious gyro, it was well worth it.
“You need to get acclimated to the slow Greek life,” said Abbey Knowles, whose enjoyment of the European country exceeded her expectations, and tastebuds. “Everything tastes so much better in Greece. I never liked onions, peppers or tomatoes, but once I’ve tried truly fresh fruits and vegetables, I learned that I love them.”
Earlier this summer, led by SJC faculty Konstantine Rountos, Ph.D., (Department of Biology) and Tina Ferro (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management), 13 St. Joe’s students enjoyed a 12-day program across Greece, studying biology, field ecology, and hospitality and tourism management.
The program, titled “The Odyssey,” took students to a variety of islands, including Santorini, Mykonos and Southern Evia.
“We went snorkeling on the coast of Karystos, passing a couple sites famous to the island, such as the Greece royal families’ beach house,” said Alex Pushnick, an SJC Long Island biology student. “We saw sea urchins and starfish (and) we later got a lesson about them, thanks to Dr. Rountos.”
Students experienced the major tourist areas and archeological sites of Greece, while also getting to witness authentic Greek life and the natural beauty of Karystos in Evia. Students explored marine, freshwater and mountain ecosystems and assessed the potential for ecotourism in Greece.
Helping boost the authenticity was Dr. Rountos — a fluent speaker of Greek and SJC’s resident expert of the Greek Islands.
“Without the help of Dr. Rountos and Professor Ferro, we would not be able to have the experiences that we were able to have,” said Hannah Jaynes. “This is definitely one of the best experiences that I’ve been able to be a part of.”
While the students snorkeled, hiked and explored the country, the SJC’s Department of Biology Facebook page transformed into a tourist’s guide to Greece. In addition to beautiful slideshows posted by Dr. Rountis over the 12 days, students published daily blogs journaling their expedition — educating the public on fascinating finds.
“Ever wonder why the Mediterranean or Caribbean waters are so blue?” Pushnick wrote on his June 22 Facebook post. “Well we learned that what makes this beautiful aqua blue waters is actually a lack of nutrients that plankton feed on in the water known to scientists as oligotrophic. Since there is no food for the plankton, it creates this amazingly clear aqua blue water. Good for us, very bad for the fish since there’s no food.”
From dancing in Athens to climbing the Ochi mountain, students were given an unforgettable authentic Greek experience they won’t soon forget.