Students travel to Athens for spring break

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Twelve Honors students and English majors spent spring break in Athens as part of a study tour, according to Dr. Matthew Hokom, who led the trip.

The students spent the first eight weeks of the term, learning about the rich history and cultural importance of Athens in a course taught by Dr. Hokom.  They investigated the achievements of classical Greece, as well as modern authors, contemporary politics, and Greek cuisine.

During spring break, the students explored the ancient monuments in Athens, including the Parthenon, the Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian's Gate.  They learned to use the mass transit system and explored shops and restaurants.  They spent a day in Delphi where they took in the archeological site of the ancient temple of Apollo, and they toured the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio.

Hokom said, "I had expected to be awed by the architecture, but the natural beauty of the topography caught me off guard.  Having seen the place I now feel like I have a better understanding of the people and their culture."

Jenna Swan, a sophomore from Bridgeport majoring in social studies and a member of the  Honors Program, commented, "It was good to see so many of the ancient monuments, and the museums had a way of connecting the ancient artifacts to modern life.  There was an exhibition at the Benaki Museum relating objects to the U.S."

Grace Rine, a senior English major from Sisterville, said, "I’m so grateful for the experiences I had over the past week, and I am especially grateful for the individuals that I shared my experiences with. Seeing the ancient ruins and the artifacts in the museums made me feel as if I was stepping back in time, and it was interesting to finally see what the textbooks had described. I now truly feel as if I am a citizen of the world."

Zach Hawkins, a sophomore Honors student from Bridgeport and majoring in civil engineering, added, "The different style of architecture was amazing, and everyone was so welcoming. It was a blast."

Sean Lee, a senior English major from Fairmont, said, "The experience of seeing someplace new expanded my understanding of the world.  I noticed that even though there were cultural differences, people were also the same.  So the world seems larger and smaller at the same time."

Kristen Bonner, an Honors sophomore history major from Bridgeport, added, "Talking with the staff in the restaurants and cafes we visited was very interesting.  They we're very nice and welcoming, and they were very curious about us and shout America."

The Honors study-travel class in which all of the students are enrolled is designed to show students the interconnections of art, language, literature, theatre, history, geography, geology, music, and economics that have contributed to the life and culture of the city. In class, students study the history, culture, and mass transit system of a city. Once they arrive in that city, they see plays and concerts, visit museums and historic sites, and learn to navigate their way around. The course helps students to see the influence of the past on the present and the evolving future. It seeks to develop in them skills they will need in order to explore first-hand cultures and civilizations outside their own. The class has taken students to London, Paris, Rome, Turkey, Brussels, and Amsterdam in past years.  

The students' travel is partially supported by the office of the Provost and by the Honors Program.