Experiential Impact in Athens

By
Paris Strother
May 7, 2007
Paris Strother
Office of International Programs

Athens has been the experience of a lifetime. Living in another country for four months is guaranteed to open any mind. Coming here, the change of climate and scenery is expected but the personal change that each participant will undoubtedly experience is remarkable.

Living in a foreign environment is difficult at times, especially as far as the language and custom barriers go, but the experience is so rewarding when you find yourself speaking in the native language and walking comfortably around a city that was once so unfamiliar.

Musically, Philippos Nakas Conservatory teaches the regular Berklee core classes such as Harmony and Ear Training, but also unique courses that really allow the students to get a better glimpse of the history of the country through the music. A group favorite, "Greece: Crossroads of Rhythm and Sound," teaches rhythms in mixed meters and the historical origins of the instruments. How many people do you know who can cite the difference between 4/4 and 16/16? Or recognize a 15/16 pattern when they hear one? It is these unique attributes of traditional Greek music that forge a lasting influence on every student who takes part in this program.

The students who participated in the program this semester also had the treat of experiencing the festivities for Easter, arguably the most celebrated holiday here in Athens. The churches stay open and thousands of people flock to visit and pay their religious respects. The night before Easter, there is a candle lighting ceremony that starts at 11:00 p.m. and ends just after midnight with the ringing of church bells and tons of people in the street celebrating. The sight of the masses with candles slowly walking through the street in reverence is truly a scene that someone will remember for a lifetime.

These great experiences, coupled with the amazing food, beautiful weather, and history of the city, make Athens an incredible destination for any trip and even better for Berklee's semester-abroad program.