Teaching English, Conquering Olympus

Joanna Simos Assistant Director, Experiential Education


July 13, 2015

Abram Krause studied at the arcadia center in Athens for the Fall in 2013 and is currently  pursuing a graduate degree in Secondary English Education. Besides climbing to the top of Mount Olympus, Abram taught weekly English classes to immigrant groups for which he was awarded the Co-curricular Learning Certificate.  Here, he looks back at his time in Athens...

I decided to take a semester in Greece my junior year of college as an escape from the structural monotony of post-secondary education. Initially I saw a semester abroad as a chance to take a break from the prosaic routine into which I had fallen, as opposed to a doorway into new and exciting opportunities.

My outlook on the semester soon changed as I met my professors and colleagues at Arcadia University. In the five months spent in Europe, I made connections that I knew would last well beyond the duration of the semester. It has been a year and a half since I left Greece and I still keep in touch with many of my colleagues and a few of my professors.

Last month I reconvened with one of my colleagues for the second time since we parted ways in 2014 despite the fact that we live over a thousand miles away from each other. As we sat on a mountain in Denver, CO,  eating pseudo-souvlaki, and relating our climb to the time we conquered Mt. Olympus together, I came to realize that nothing brings people closer than shared experience.

In addition to the many connections I made while abroad, I also began to discover what I wanted to do with my life. By the time I went to Greece, I had changed my major countless times, being interested in everything but never experiencing that feeling of destiny. This changed when I was given the opportunity to teach a small group of Albanian immigrants while in Athens. I had considered teaching in the past but I never thought too seriously about it, not seeing myself as a potential role-model for children. I met with these kids two days per week and soon developed a real passion for teaching English.

When I returned to UW Madison, I immediately applied for graduate school in Secondary English Education with a letter of recommendation from one of my Greek professors. The fact that the same person that was so anxious to be done with school was now applying for more school was almost comical, but my experiences in Athens had set me back on track and given me a new purpose.

Not only did my time in Europe provide me with the vacation I was looking for, having traveled to eight different Aegean islands as well as ten additional countries, but it served as a launchpad for my future.

My experience in Athens was the most rewarding and momentous journey I have ever taken; it provided me with meaningful connections, world experience, and occupational passion.

*Arcadia’s Co-curricular Learning Certificate (CLC) motivates students to engage with their host community and take full advantage of their study abroad experience. It provides them with a formal incentive to enhance their not-for-credit development. This is our way of encouraging and recognizing the thoughtful participation, reflection and rich learning they’ve achieved through their involvement in the local culture and communities.