I had been to Greece before, so I already knew I loved the country, so when I discovered I had been chosen to intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece, I was ecstatic. With this wave of excitement however, I also received a wave of fear. I spent the next four months terrified for my internship abroad. Nevertheless, January 6th 2017, the date of my arrival in Athens crept up fast, and I was finally forced to face my fear, and what a rewarding experience it has been. Looking back on my three-month journey, I am proud of how much I have grown, and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to work, learn, and live in Greece.
I had three major tasks as an Intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece. The first was to reorganize the books in the CIG library in order to fill an empty book case. This job took two weeks and required mostly organizational skills (and a little bit of strength). It allowed me to become familiar with how the books were categorized, labelled, and also what types of books the CIG had in their collection. I shortly started my second task, which was to sort, organize and digitize the papers relating to the Institute’s last six colloquiums. This was the most complicated job I had while here; it required a lot of patience, problem solving and attention to detail, as there were many steps to take in order to keep things unified and organized. With the help of the Institute’s Director, David, the Institute’s Assistant Director, Jonathan, the fellow, Keven, and Google Translate, I was able to accomplish the majority of these colloquium papers. And finally, I ended my internship by updating the Institute’s membership lists and sending out membership renewal e-mails. Aside from these three major tasks, I was responsible for many others, such as doing the weekly laundry for the hostel upstairs, scanning documents and picking up books or papers for Jonathan, and my favorite, preparing and serving food and drink with Keven for bi-weekly lectures held at the Canadian Institute.
My work week was Monday to Friday, so I had the weekends off for travel, exploration and fun. I spent my first weekend visiting family in the UK, whom I do not get to see very often. This definitely helped ease some homesickness as well as got me into the habit of travelling on my own. I quickly became friends with a group of students from the University of Victoria who were participating in a semester abroad and went on many adventures together both in Athens and off to the islands of Hydra and Rhodes. I also made time to travel to Cape Sounion, Elefsina, Thessaloniki, and Delphi and Santorini with my Mom who was happy to visit.
Since I had only been to Athens once before for a very short period of time, there was much I wanted to see and explore. By the end of my time in Athens I had visited the Acropolis three times, the Athenian Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Cycladic Museum, Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, Hill of the Muses, Lykavittos Hill, Flisvos Marina, Anafiotika, the Royal Gardens and more. I was also lucky enough to have made a great group of Greek friends who showed me Athens from a local’s perspective. I ate at many amazing tavernas, listened to live Greek music, learned how to play ρακέτες at the beach, watched four theatre productions in Greek, experienced the Greek night-life, and how to properly use a κομπολόι,. I am thankful for their patience with my awful Greek accent and showing me a side of Athens I could have never experienced on my own.
I really enjoyed my time at the Canadian Institute, and the work I was required to do seemed a very small price to pay for the positive experiences I had here in Greece. Working here gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, make great friends, travel to new and old places, and experience Greek culture in a way I never had before. After my three-month stay in Athens, living at and working for the Canadian Institute, I have fallen in love with Athens, a unique city full of variety, fun, and culture, and would hope to even live here one day.
University of Waterloo intern, winter-spring 2017