Greece

I remember the first time I decided to do something solo abroad… I wanted to see the Lion King Musical when I was in London. No one else in my program was interested, so I went alone. My mom was so proud of how independent I was that she told everyone for weeks after about how I went to The Lion King alone, which actually makes me sound much more lame than independent, but from then on I’ve gotten a thrill out of solo travel and experiences. Now, before you assume I’m anti-social, I love traveling with others. I spent 12 straight days with a group of awesome girls from my program in Thessaloniki, but there’s something solo travel gives you that you can’t get with anyone else.

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As of March 1st, I have been in Thessaloniki, Greece, for one month. The time has flown by and I couldn't be happier with my new home. The people, the city, and the cuisine surprise me every single day. My classes are interesting and in full swing. I live a five minute walk from the sea. Can I repeat – I LIVE BY THE SEA. For a girl that has spent her whole life in Iowa with the Cedar and Iowa Rivers being the most exciting bodies of water nearby, to say that I live by the sea is a thrill in itself.

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Three months ago to this exact date was the day I accepted to spend the spring semester in Thessaloniki, Greece. After sending the acceptance e-mail, I remember calling my mom, my boyfriend, my friends – anyone who would listen – and then wondering how in the world I could ever wait three months to leave for Greece.

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Our spotlight on current students falls on a graduate student new to the University of Iowa, but not new to the state: Anastasios “Tasos” Papachristoudis. Tasos is from Thessaloniki, Greece, and spent the last few years studying in Iowa as a undergraduate before coming to the University of Iowa for graduate studies.

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Introducing John Cabot University, an American university located in the heart of Rome. Now enter professors from the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP), the University of Iowa’s unique residency program for international writers. The occasion for their meeting? The first annual Italy Writes Creative Writing competition for Italian high school students.

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European policy leaders have been wrestling for months with how to handle Greece’s unwieldy debt. But that problem isn’t just a problem for those on the other side of the Atlantic to solve.

“That’s not a Greek problem. It’s everybody’s problem. It affects our economy as well,” said Greg Hamot, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Education on Tuesday.

That’s just one example of why Hamot is urging Iowa educators to broaden their curricula to include more content from around the world.

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I did not see another Asian child at school until junior high, thus making diversity a very difficult and painful concept for me to grasp; however, I came to realize that everyone is different in their own special way, and although other kids made fun of me for my physical differences up until high school, I took these experiences, and they helped shape my much broader view of humanity and our role in the international arena.

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As an African American woman, meeting members of the African Diaspora in Greece was eye-opening. Many of the West African immigrants I met were first-generation transplants or seasonal workers, and as such their position within the larger Greek cultural fabric was a tenuous one. In a society where large-scale immigration is a newer phenomenon than it is in the United States, it was interesting to hear these immigrants' various opinions about life as a person of color in a European country.

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