Hellenic Studies Professor Maria Kaliambou led a study-abroad program to Greece over the summer — and brought only three students.
Kaliambou and the students, who had been in her Modern Greek class, explored the city of Thessaloniki and the village of Nymphaio for one week inMay. The trip was all-expenses-paid for the participants and funded by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. In most language departments, students pay for their study-abroad experiences, or can get funding from the University if they are on financial aid or apply for a grant, but in this case, the MacMillan Center agreed to pay for the trip because the Hellenic Studies department is one of Yale’s smallestand is trying to attract more students, Kaliambou said. The students on the trip said the small size of the group and the casual structure of the trip made it a better learning experience.
The trip is a new addition to the department, one which Kaliambou said she hopes will take place every other year in the future and be free for Hellenic Studies students, but she said she is unsure whether the MacMillan Center will continue to fund it.
The three students of Kaliambou’s L5 Greek language class stayed in hotels.
“Coming from a non-Greek heritage background, meeting Maria’s parents, and seeing how Greek families interact was a new cultural experience for me, and something I never would have been able to experience in the classroom,”said Quyen Slotznick ’11, one of the students.
On the other hand, larger language departments have greater resources with which to fund their students’ extracurricular supplements, said Kevin Poole, the director of undergraduate studies for the Spanish department.
“We have weekly language tables; lectures and other events offered by the department through the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies and the Whitney Humanities Center; a film series; study-abroad opportunities; information about community involvement, and many other language, literatureand cultural opportunities throughout the year,” Poole said.
Study-abroad opportunities offered through larger departments are often through more established programsand students often stay with classmates in University-provided housing.
The Greek class travelers alsostayed with extended family members of Danae Sossidis ’12, who was in the classand whose father provided the group with food and transportation.
The students who went on the trip said their experiences wereenriched because the trip built off their experience together in class in the spring semseterand because their travelling companions had a similar background in Greek history and culture.
“We had studied the historical landmarks of Thessaloniki together in class, but clearly that could never compare to actually seeing them in person,” Slotznick said.
Kaliambou said her students were able to experience a Greek university, since they visited two of them, but were also able to acclimate themselves to traditional Greek culture because they stayed with host families. She contrasted their experience with traditional study-abroad programs, in which students often don’t experience as much of the regional culture, she said.
Kaliambou said the trip was one of the only opportunities of its kind for students in Hellenic Studies, which has five professors and eight course listings in this semester’s Blue Book.
Thessaloniki and Nymphaio are both located in northern Greece, near Macedonia.
Correction: October 13, 2010
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that students traveling with Hellenic Studies Professor Maria Kaliambou stayed with her family; they stayed in hotels.