Penn State Fayette professor conducts study abroad experience in Athens


LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — This summer, Aris Karagiorgakis, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, offered a unique study abroad experience in Athens, Greece, open to all Penn State students. State.

Fourteen students enrolled in the immersive six-week program, which featured two concurrent courses, Introduction to the Psychologies of Religion (PSYCH 230) and Cross-Cultural Psychology (PSYCH 232).

The group explored famous monasteries, ancient ruins and temples, including the Temple of Poseidon and the Temple of Aphaea on the island of Aegina; visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Jewish Museum of Athens, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and more; and even visited the Hellenic Parliament.

Lectures and daily activities – including cooking and dance classes – explored Greek culture, environmental attitudes, mental health stigma, education and science, their economic crisis and more. The group met a social worker from Caritas Hellas, an organization dedicated to helping refugees and migrants, and learned about homelessness in Athens during the Shedia Invisible Tour.

Nina Papathanasopoulou, faculty member of the College Year in Athens program, gave talks along the way. Participants also had the opportunity to meet students from the American College of Greece, who shared their educational experiences and perspectives.

Student testimonials

“This summer was my first time participating in a study abroad opportunity and my first time out of the country,” said Nina Dillon, a Cranberry Township resident who is set to graduate from University Park. in 2024. “It was cool to relate the material we were learning outside the classroom to the material we were learning inside the classroom. There was this bakery my classmates and I went to every morning before class, and we really bonded with the owner, Dimitris. He taught us a lot about Greek culture.

“We all became good friends,” said University Park psychology student Rachel Tambor. “I would recommend studying abroad to any student. I think it’s really important to get out of your comfort zone and experience different cultures. It’s a great way to make friends and new memories.

“The classes brought me into contact with the rich history and unique culture that has developed in Greece over time,” said Charmaine Wood, a psychology student at Claymont, Delaware. “Studying abroad helps us become more open-minded and increases our global citizenship, the latter being crucial in the digital age where we are all so connected, in my opinion.

“I was a little nervous because it was my first time out of the country, but it was the most influential and impactful experience,” said Aubrianna Navaroli, of Warren, Pa., who hopes to get her graduating from University Park in 2024. “As a molecular biology student, I didn’t have much time to explore my other academic interests outside of biology, so being part of the program allowed me to diversify and learn more about an equally interesting field.

“In short, it was the best experience of my life. It definitely changed me as a person for the better and I learned a lot about my Greek heritage and my American nationality. Being immersed in the culture of my ancestors made the experience more personal,” said Olivia Moukas, an English student from New York.

Create a discovery space

“Studying abroad offers students the opportunity to have a unique collective experience with peers that cannot be replicated from class to class or destination to destination,” Karagiorgakis said. “When designing the itinerary for a six-week program, I am able to schedule time for organic opportunities and choices. For example, the group suggested that we all paint on the beach together at sunset. It was an absolutely incredible experience that the students coordinated and made possible.

Karagiorgakis will be offering this study abroad experience again in the summer of 2023, open to all Penn State students, in addition to Psychologies of Religion (PSYCH 230) in Istanbul, Turkey during Spring Week. Break in March 2023. Interested students can contact him directly at [email protected]


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