Athens Dusk

Pursuing Your Major Abroad

Owen Monroe CC'20

Spending time in Athens, Nafplio, and the island of Syros, I was able to delve deeper into my academic passion of Art History, while also learning about other disciplines, and gaining new friendships and cultural understanding.

Starting my freshman year at Columbia, I did not plan nor did I expect to spend the next summer studying abroad in Greece. However, once a friend who knew I was studying Art History told me about Columbia’s Curating the Histories of the Greek Present program, I researched the class and applied. What started off as a great opportunity became a great experience once July arrived. Living in Athens for a month and taking classes with brilliant classmates and amazing professors, including two native Athenians, has been one of the most rewarding and formative experiences of my time at Columbia. Spending time in Athens, Nafplio, and the island of Syros, I was able to delve deeper into my academic passion of Art History, while also learning about other disciplines, and gaining new friendships and cultural understanding. It was fantastic to discuss texts from fields like ethnography, art criticism, and history, before visiting local museums or seeing Ancient art and monuments in situ. Presenting in class on an essay about ethnography in art and modern Greek artist Yannis Tsarouchis improved my speaking skills and prompted a great discussion. Our final project, making our own works and curating an exhibit on Syros, also increased my interest in curation as a discipline. Having a local teenagers stop in our exhibit and ask questions about my art and offer their own interpretations was an amazing experience that made me recognize the importance of art and the valuable ideas and conversations that it can create.