Mark Haney is an Honors College student majoring in management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business and music through the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He traveled to Greece and Spain this summer to study e-commerce and global business modeling.
In the last two months, I’ve seen more incredible sights than I’ve ever seen in so short a time. My adventure to Greece began in Amsterdam, and ended in Barcelona—in the middle, I saw and learned so much about the political, economic, and social environment of Greece, and traveled all around the country. I travelled alone, but Drs. Cronan and Douglas of the Walton College led our group classes and excursions in Greece. I appreciate these professors for their dedication to the program and for organizing all of our excursions so well. And I am infinitely grateful to the Honors College Fellowship and everyone who helped approve me for funding to be able to travel to Greece. It was certainly one of the greatest, most fascinating months of my life.
The excitement began during my 8-hour layover in Amsterdam, during which I hopped on the train into town and meandered through the endless labyrinth of bridges and canals, stopping only at a few particularly beautiful churches, museums, and one very delicious café where I enjoyed a bagel and tea before wandering on. Then I returned to the airport and flew the rest of the way to Athens, where Dr. Cronan greeted me and took me back to my new residence, Palmyra Beach Hotel.
After everyone in the group arrived, we had lunch at Zaxos, which we thereafter frequented the rest of the trip. They had delicious, cheap gyros, souvlaki, greek salad, and fries, and served fairly quickly. Every morning, we went to class in the classrooms on the top floor of our hotel (the hotel is used as a hotel management school throughout most of the year, so it had fully equipped classrooms, in addition to being an ordinary, well-run hotel). Dr. Cronan taught his class on e-commerce, and Dr. Douglas taught on global business modeling, with an emphasis on building Microsoft Excel skills. Both classes were very engaging, discussion-oriented, and useful for completing the final project—the theoretical creation of a B2C e-commerce company located in Greece. In a group with two others, we created an entirely new business to be located in several major Greek cities, and presented our Business Prospectus and financial Pro-Forma statements to “potential investors” (our classmates) as our final presentation. It was a valuable learning experience, and I gained a lot of skills that will be helpful as I finish my business degree. Besides attending class, we also went on several group visits to important sites and museums, and I also travelled some on my own.
In the first week, we took a bus to the small town of Souneo, the southernmost tip of Greece, where we visited the Temple of Poseidon and enjoyed the incredible view of the Aegean Sea. In Athens, we visited the Parthenon/Acropolis, the Plaka District, Lykavittos Hill, Monastiraki District, the Cycladic Art Museum, and Syntagma Square, just to name a few. On most afternoons and weekends, I explored the city more, and visited countless museums and ruins. I even had the chance to meet up with my sister, who was visiting from India, and with friends on the Classics in Greece study abroad program. It was a reminder of how small the world really is to see them in Athens. I also took an overnight ferry to Chania, Crete one weekend to explore the old port town and to hike the Samaria Gorge in Samaria, Crete.
I had no idea how important Crete has been throughout world history, and learned a lot about its significance as I visited the Archeological Museum, Maritime Museum, Folklore Museum, and Byzantine Museum, all in Chania. Hiking the Samaria Gorge was also an extraordinary experience—I was even able to walk through the ancient Samarian village where people lived for thousands of years. The history of Crete was incredible, and I strongly recommend future students of this Greece program to visit Crete. To conclude our stay in Greece, our group spent a few nights on the beautiful, peaceful island of Santorini. The tranquility of the island was a nice contrast to the bustle of Athens, and it was an appropriate end to our trip.
On the way home, I flew through Barcelona Spain, and stayed for three nights to explore the city on my own. One of my sisters, Alice, had just spent the last spring semester studying in Barcelona, so she gave me a thorough list of the most important things to do during my short visit. With her help, I was able to see the best of the city in a short time. I strolled through Parc Laborinto D’Horta, Parc Guell, Ciutadella Parc, and the port of Barceloneta. I am in awe of the architect Antonio Gaudi after seeing his Casa Batllo and La Sagrada Familia—two stunning pieces of architecture, the former a previously occupied house and the latter an unfinished but breathtaking basilica unlike any basilica I have ever seen in any other part of the world. I also visited the Picasso Museum, and several churches in the gothic quarters. Those three days in Barcelona were a whirlwind of beautiful sights, and my short stay was a fantastic end to the previous month in Greece.
I have tried to be concise, but it is difficult to adequately describe the value of my experiences without sharing lots of detail. I highly recommend this program to any student interested in learning more about Greek culture, global business modeling, e-commerce, and the economic environment of the Euro zone. It was a highly valuable experience for me, and I am very grateful to have been a part of it.