by Amanda Fuller

On this unusually rainy morning in San Diego, 19 Compact Scholars and their families gathered in front of Viejas Arena at 7:00AM to say goodbye. These students were about to embark on a two week faculty-led study abroad program in Greece. Accompanied by Chris Kjonaas, Director of International Engagement for the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA), the students (17 women and 2 men) loaded onto a bus destined for Los Angeles International Airport. Full of nervous excitement, they arrived at LAX to continue their nearly 24 hour journey to Athens, Greece by way of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Student and families meeting at Viejas Arena before leaving to LAX airport.

Here are some fast facts about these amazing and adventurous students:

  • Approximately 80% just completed their first year at SDSU
  • While all students are Compact Scholars, they represent diverse majors
  • Many have never before traveled internationally
  • One student has never been on a plane!

After a long and grueling 6,938 mile journey to Athens, the group met up with program faculty leader Amanda Fuller (Academic Coordinator for the Compact Scholars Program in DAESA and instructor for the program’s related course on travel writing), Spilios Osoffsky representing CISAbroad the program’s on-site partner (plus, all around great host), and an additional Compact Scholar who traveled to Athens independently. The entire group of 23 participants (including leaders) rode together from Eleftherios Venizelos (Athens International Airport) via chartered coach to Hotel Anthinais in central Athens.

Tired students and leaders riding from Athens International Airport to Hotel Athinais upon arrival in Athens, Greece.
Spilios Osoffsky educated students on Athens, safety and what to expect during the next two weeks.
Students and leaders in front of Hotel Athinais in Athens, Greece.

Exhausted students had some time to settle in their rooms before meeting up for the group welcome dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. After enjoying an excellent meal of the classic Greek dishes Spanakopita and Moussaka, students and group leaders found themselves exhausted with full tummies and droopy eyelids — ready for some much needed sleep!

Traditional Greek spanakopita (filo layers stuffed with spinach and herbs).
Traditional Greek moussaka, a layer of potatoes topped with thinly sliced eggplant, spiced ground meat and bechamel.

A successful day one was now in the books — everyone arrived safely and went to bed enthusiastic for the experiences to come! Stay tuned to the Compact Scholars blog for news of the group’s adventures…