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Study Abroad Alumna: Barbie Papalios

I participated in four study abroad experiences during my time at Ohio State: the London Honors program through Ohio State; the Institute for Balkan Studies International Summer School for Greek Language, History and Culture; the Summer Modern Greek Program at the University of Athens; and the London Theatre Program through Ohio State (for which I received the International Travel Grant funded by the Office of the Executive Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences).

IMXA was held in Perea, Thessaloniki, Greece, and was a rigorous month-long program with weekend excursions. This was a great experience — after this trip, I decided to add a Modern Greek major in addition to my theatre major. The Summer Modern Greek Program at the University of Athens was another month-long program; I lived in a dorm in Athens and took Greek classes. 

There is nothing like studying a language in the country where they speak it — taking classes and attending social events really does solidify your understanding of a language and culture. I may not have had the courage to study abroad if it had not been for the credits I would receive at Ohio State.

Study abroad provided me the opportunity to study Modern Greek in the country where it is spoken. I would not have become as proficient in the language without my study abroad experience. I also got the chance to really be on my own in a new environment far from home, which taught me a lot about my capability to fend for myself. I also learned more about myself by being around people who were different — although I am Greek-American, in Greece I definitely was more conscious of the American parts of myself.

In England, I learned how different a country can be, even if they speak the same language. I became aware of how much influence American politics and culture has worldwide and realized that I have a responsibility to be informed about social and political issues. I became more culturally competent as a result of my study abroad experiences and I also made friends in various countries that I still have today.
Study abroad sparked an interest in international work that I still carry with me. Because of my study abroad experience, I was able to solidify a fellowship to work in Greece for a year after graduation.

— Barbie Papalios, '09, BA Theatre, Modern Greek