Good morning! It’s 6.00 am and I’m on my way to Athens International Airport to welcome a group of students arriving from Portugal. They’re about to attend their exciting six-week internship in the bustling Greek capital, Athens.
At the airport, I’ll meet up with the bus driver who’ll take us all back into the city, direct to the students’ accommodation.
The flight from Lisbon arrived on time and all of a sudden, I see six, happy faces entering the arrivals hall! They’re all girls from the Vocational School Profitecla in Portugal. The girls are all from different cities and didn’t know each other before the trip but it already looks like they’ve begun firm friendships.
Next, it’s a one hour drive to take us to their apartment. This is where the girls will live for the next six weeks. It’s a large, spacious flat with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a generously sized kitchen and a really big living room with a dining area. The students love it!
It’s still quite early in the day but the students are exhausted after their trip. So, we decide to meet up in the afternoon giving them time to acclimatise and perhaps even have a little nap before their real adventure begins.
I return to the students’ apartment at 4.00pm and first introduce the Erasmus project in a little more detail. I give each student a map with all necessary information on how they should travel to their places of work from their new “home” along with the working day start time and descriptions of each of the companies where they’ll be working.
Then – it’s off to the big city! First stop, the Metro station to get their monthly Metro passes. I couldn’t organise this prior to their arrival because Athens requires personalised Athena Cards with the Metro user’s photograph. We take the girls’ photographs, get their cards organised and then start to explore the city.
I often find that for the students that come from smaller cities, the Athens Metro is quite overwhelming so it helps to do short tours first. We decide to go to each of the girls’ companies so they can familiarise themselves with the Metro system, it’s actually quite easy to get to grips with.
The next job is to familiarise the girls with their neighbourhood. The area where the students are staying is nicely organised and importantly, safe. It’s also close to all the major attractions in Athens. Additionally, there are lots of cafés, taverns and shops so there’s everything the girls might need, close by.
Without doubt, the first day is always the most overwhelming and exhausting for the students so the best way to finish it is by taking them to try proper Greek food in one of the local restaurants!
The next day is the first day of the Erasmus internships. The students (and their respective companies) are really looking forward to it!
The girls are each studying different topics so they’ll be working in different places. We have two students working at a nursing home for elderly people as healthcare assistants. We also have two students studying tourism and their internship will take place at one of the leading tour operators in Athens. The final two girls are placed in a marketing department at an advertising agency.
The aim is to give the students the chance to practice everything they’ve learnt at school, so they use their skills in theory while also helping them to integrate into the current European labour market. It’s also to help them have a better understanding of what it’s like to work in Greece and to absorb the differences between the labour market in Greece and Portugal.
Weekends in Athens are always fun! I organise plenty for the girls to do during their six week stay with one group activity for every weekend. Here’s what we’ll do:
From 507 BC, the Athenians gathered on the Pnyx to host popular assemblies. The hill is one of the most important and one of the earliest sites noted for its creation of democracy. We’ll hike the hill and then move on to Filoppaos Hill, a green area and a favourite walk for Athenians delivering incredible views of the Acropolis, the whole city of Athens and the Aegean Sea that surrounds Athica. When we’ve finished that, we’ll reach Areopagus Hill, a prominent rock located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens. In ancient times, it was a judicial court where the judge would deliberate homicides.
We’ll walk to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel dedicated to the Goddess Athena. From Acropolis, the students will stroll down the Temple of Zeus and walk to the Acropolis Museum, which was built to house every artifact found on the rock and surrounding slopes. After visiting the museum (and a short coffee break) the group will move to the National Gardens of Athens and finally, finish with a walk by the Greek Parliament where they will be able to see the traditional changing of the guard.
The hill lays 277metres high; it’s the highest point of Athens. There, we’ll take a cable car up to the top to see amazing panoramic view of the city. After hiking downwards, we’ll stop at Kolonaki square for a well-deserved coffee break.
This trip is a real favourite; it’s a relaxing, care-free one-day cruise to three nearby picturesque islands in the Saronic Gulf. There, we’ll visit the islands of Hydra, Aegina and Poros with some time at each location to sightsee and explore at our own pace. A buffet lunch is included and served on-board the cruise.
This visit is to see the extraordinary rock formations of the Meteora region and it’s an unmissable tourist attraction also featuring interesting Byzantine monasteries. The sheer spectacle of those monasteries somehow glued atop slender stone pinnacles by medieval masons and now collectively listed as a World Heritage site – makes this one of the most visited attractions in all Greece. This strange and beautiful landscape also offers wonderful opportunities for walkers and climbers.
Without doubt, the best way to discover Athens is through food! On this weekend, we’ll enjoy a private food tour with a local expert and get to sample famous local cuisine from classic dishes to local favourites, savouring the unique flavours that Greece has to offer.
I like to make sure that all the activities are custom-made for the group as each has their own requests. The activity weekends are always great fun and a super way for the group to discover a new country. Of course, we do activities in all destinations, not just Athens and to tailor our activities we use trusted tour operators all over Europe to guarantee the most exciting, cultural experiences for our students.
Like all good things, the internships must come to an end and when that time comes, it’s time to all necessary documents, these include:
I personally take care of all the above documents; I visit every hosting company to make sure that documents are filled in and signed correctly. If students need help with on-line completion of their Europass, I am available to help them as well.
After all the documents are in place, filled and signed and once the students complete the their Erasmus program it’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the last day of their stay with a farewell dinner to share experiences and opinions.
As previously mentioned, one of the main aims of the program is to prepare the trainees for the challenges they might face in the European labour market. This is always met and by completion, all students are more confident about their role in an open-border European labour market.
Students have a private transfer waiting for them to take them to the airport. This is organised by us and I’m always available to say goodbye and make sure all that’s needed is in place.
If you need further information regarding the application process for your Erasmus+ project you can check our guide for Erasmus+ funding applicants for or read our Handbook for Erasmus+ Project Management & Execution or contact us. Do you need information regarding the new Turing Scheme for UK citizen? Read our blog about BREXIT – What’s New for You? The Turing Scheme. Or dive deeper into the Turing Scheme and read about What to Expect from a Turing Internship and The Positive Impact of Turing For Students and Their School Career.