Credit: Courtesy of Chris Balicki
Chris Balicki: Studying abroad in Greece was a no-brainer
Class of 2018 graduate Chris Balicki is spending the first semester of his freshman year in Thessaloniki, Greece. He is living at the Metropolitan Hotel in Thessaloniki with other students and attending the American College of Thessaloniki.
While applying to college, Balicki did not initially have the intention of going abroad for his freshman year. However, he always had an interest in traveling. In ninth grade, Balicki went to China, where he spent eight weeks living with a host family, so when he was presented with the opportunity to go abroad for his freshman year of college, it was hard to decline.
After hearing back from all of the schools he applied to, Balicki decided to attend Northeastern University where he had been accepted into the N.U.in program that offers a first-year experience where a select group of applicants are able spend their fall semester abroad.
The N.U. program allowed Balicki to choose from a variety of locations. He chose Greece because of its natural beauty and rich history. He also felt that being a business major, it would be interesting to observe and experience first-hand a place that had recently endured an economic crisis.
Balicki is enrolled in a full schedule of classes. His schedule is similar to that of high school, as he takes five classes that meet more than once a week.
“The opportunity to study abroad especially in a place like Greece was one that I really couldn’t think of turning down,” Balicki said. “I love the idea of learning about and experiencing different cultures and attempting to immerse [myself] in another person’s way of life. It was a no-brainer.”
Initially, Balicki wished that he started his college experience at the same time as everyone else, as all of his friends left for college in August, and he didn’t leave until late September.
“I was one of the only college students in town [for a while] and that was pretty depressing,” Balicki said.
However, Balicki believes his experience has been well worth the wait. Balicki will transition back to the Boston campus in January after he returns from his studies in Greece.
“I think anyone that goes abroad comes back a more independent and self-trusting person, having survived on their own in a foreign place,” Balicki said. “I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of different cultures and ways of life, especially after having had the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world about their perspectives [on] different things.”
Balicki is maximizing his experience by traveling both within and outside of Greece and exploring more parts of the world when he has free time. So far, he has traveled to Athens, Santorini, Belgium, Amsterdam, Mount Olympus, Meteora and Berlin.
He has enjoyed talking to new people and learning about their views on America and what comes to mind when other students hear where he’s from.
“It really opens [my] eyes to how we as a country are being perceived by others,” Balicki said.
Balicki recommends that people study abroad if given the opportunity to do so.
“The experience of studying abroad in a place other than your home is invaluable in understanding the world around you,” Balicki said. “At its simplest, it shows you that there are different ways to survive and thrive in this world, and as obvious as it sounds, that is something that not a lot of the population realizes or accepts.”