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Thessaloniki will be an amzing experience, here is why...


What to Do in The City

During the day you can enjoy beautiful sightseen, long walks on the seaside, explore the squares, local traditional small shops, the port, tavernas, some really cool museums and visiting historical monuments (lots of them!). Did I mention that it’s within 40min to an hour from the beach? Greek beaches are paradise, trust me, I am from Rio de Janeiro - Brazil and I am still saying they are awesome.

At night, you can enjoy a very busy nightlife in kamara (the arch) or valaourito, you can also go to some bouzoukia (traditional Greek show, but they are less ‘party’). Thessaloniki also hosts a lot of events like festivals and shows.

Travel tips

Halkidiki, I would be a fool not to tell you about this amazing place, you have to know the ‘3 legs‘ on the map! It is only about 2-3 hours driving. One of the legs is only inhabitedby men, and only men can visit, but the other two legs are amazingly beautiful and everyone is allowed.

Also, if you are enrolled in AUTH during the summer, you can make use of the University’s camping site! I highly recommend it if you enjoy camping and partying at the same time. When I was there, summer of 2016, there were literally thousands of people, the camping site has internet connection (same login and password used in the University campus), restrooms, showers, restaurant (3 euros for lunch, if I am not mistaken), parking lot (only a few parking spots), plugins and electricity.

Heading East of Thessaloniki you should go to KAVALA, a very beautiful city by the see. Once there you could take a ferry (with car, motorcycle) and go to a wonderful island called thasos. Be aware of the fairy schedule, make sure they WILL FOLLOW the schedule (tip: whenever relying on public transportation in Greece be aware of earlier or delayed departures and strikes).

After Kavala, you could make your trip longer and go to Istanbul – Turkey. It’s about 7/8 hours by bus and it costs 30 euros (one-way ticket). You definitely want to visit Istanbul as it is so close to Thessaloniki and it will be one of the most beautiful cities you will ever visit in Europe. I visited 23 countries and 50+ cities in Europe (backpacking), I can say it with authority that Istanbul is in my top 3. Also, once you are living in Thessaloniki, if you don’t know it already, you will learn about the history Greece, especially North Greece, and Turkey have. Turkish liraworth 3 to 4 times less than euro, depending on the exchange rate.there are so many things to talk about this place alone that a whole new text would be necessary, so enjoy the Turkish food and unique culture.

Heading West you should visit Lake Prespa in Prespa National Park, it is located right on the border of Greece, Albania and Macedonia (TIP: ops, never call it by this name, use its capital name Skopje. This goes WAY back in time… check the history on this or move to Thessaloniki and learn it from a native, they are really into this subject, even young people). Take a boat ride and visit some caves and learn about the history of the location.

Now heading to South side Greece, you should keep going down on the map and stop at Mount Olympus, you can go hiking, camping, rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering and a lot of other outdoor activities. Afterwards you should stop by at Meteora, where you will be able to witness one of the most unique geological formations you will ever see, with some really old and beautiful monasteries on the top of the rocks. You can also camp or rock climb in there.

Keep going south until you make it to Athens, the capital of Greece. It is a big city and there are a lot of different things to do like visiting the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Parthenon, the Acropolis market, Syntagma Square, Temple of Zeus, Erechtheion, Theatre of Dionysus, Port of Piraeus (where you can take ferries to the Islands such as Creta, zakyntos, etc.).

A big tip when traveling through islands, besides checking the ferry schedules beforehand, strikes and being aware of earlier/late departures, is to rent a motorbike so that you will be able to go around without depending on the island buses that run in a tight schedule. Another major tip is to keep an eye for really cheap flight tickets, prices can go as low as 2 euros per ticket. I actually went to Santorini with this price, from Thessaloniki, but it is most likely that you will find a very cheap ticket to Athens and then to some Island (2+2= 4 euros…  still worth it).

Greek People and Food

Greek people will do all they can to please you and make you feel comfortable with their culture. They will happily try to make you into one of them! which, in my point of view, is very nice. Most people in Thessaloniki CAN speak English, so you most likely will not have any issue with that. In case you are insecure about it, don’t worry, AUTH offers Greek language course to all Erasmus students (I didn’t have to pay, but that’s because I was ERASMUS MUNDUS, not sure if normal ERASMUS students have to pay though).

Greek culture in circled around sharing and closeness to people. Go to a taverna and eat like a Greek, order as many food as your group can eat and share each dish with each other. This is amazing because it brings you closer to your friends and also gives you the opportunity to try a lot of different food in only one meal. Can you handle a drink? Greeks have some pretty strong alcoholic drinks like Ouzo and Tsipouro. You can also eat some amazing deserts! There is one place, not known by international students, but I will share it with you: I was talking to a Greek friend of mine one day and he invited me to try the best bougatsa ever! I had tried the one next to a monument called White Tower (nice spot to spend and afternoon with friends), which supposedly was the best in town, I accepted his invitation and he passed by my place and gave me a ride in his motorcycle (greeks love motorcycles). We went to a place located in 22 Agion Panton (close to the train station), you can see the storefront in picture 1.

Picture 1: Best bougatsa in town. Source: Google Maps.

AUTH

People at the University are very friendly and understanding. Professors are highly qualified and the courses you can take are various. ESN people WILL do everything for you! they are really committed to making your experience the best it could possibly be. They organize several parties and trips.

The university campuses are very well located, there is only one located a bit far from downtown (30-40 min bus ride), but you can and definitely should make your Erasmus student card and your university student card. You can get A LOT of discounts in Greece with your student discount. You can do a deal that allows you to pay a fixed tax and ride the buses for as many times as you need.

If you are into sports or want to get in shape, the University offers a Huge multi-sports gym, there is even a separated web site only for the gym. You will have access to it once you get your student card and pay a symbolic fee (10 euros per semester, something like it). We (Erasmus students) used to play soccer twice a week and a lot of students would just hit the gym on a daily basis. There are many options of sports, classes and exercises available. Everything is truly well managed.

I had the opportunity to take classes with Greek students whereas some of the other Erasmus students took classes only with other Erasmus students. This is due to the number of Erasmus student taking the same courses. In my case, there were not so many people studying about the environment, but there were a lot of Law students.

Keep calm and Xalara

Greeks are relaxed when it comes to schedules, meetings and deadlines, don’t be nervous or anxious if your classmates or your teacher arrive late, you are in their country, respect their culture! Also take this time to learn that there is more in life than meeting schedules and deadlines all the time. Don’t get me wrong, don’t start doing it randomly, but understand when it happens.


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