Co-op Chronicles from Crete is an online journal written for Drexel alumni by Natasha Pande '13, a Drexel senior communications student currently on co-op in Crete, Greece. Alumni are encouraged to send comments or questions to email@example.com.
Working in Greece was fascinating. It was not just because of the fact that I was working in another country, it was everything that came with it; the food, the culture, the history and the people. Interacting with people at work, and getting past the language and cultural barriers was really interesting. I saw my attitude change, from being frustrated about not understanding what my boss and my colleagues were saying to picking up different words from their conversations and being able to make sense of it.
Working on various projects and translating Greek to English (with the help of my friend Google) was an interesting process. Of course, I could always ask for help but I really learned a lot of Greek words when I edited the recipe book called Periplous. There were 400 pages of recipes from different regions of Greece. Working on this book, which was being prepared for hotel merchandizing, really gave me insight into the process that books went through before publishing; be it the design, formatting, or editing the translation.
I worked on a lot of brochures for the textile collections at the hotel. Mrs. Metaxas, the mother of the hotel's owner/ CEO, donated the textiles she had collected from all over Crete. The hotel had this collection on display as part of its new décor, and I created an information brochure about it for the guests. Toward the end of my Co-op at Creta Maris, my Photoshop skills had improved so much that my boss gave me most of the graphic design projects that needed to be done. I worked twenty hours a week so I was given small projects on a weekly basis to complete and it was great fun.
After completing my Co-op, I went for one last trip before I returned to the United States. I visited five cities in Italy; Pisa, Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan. I flew to Pisa, spent a day there, and explored the Piazza dei Miracoli. I ended up climbing up to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa with my friend even though I was terrified of the height. We also went into the Cathedral and the Baptistery. Just observing the architecture was phenomenal.
Next, I took a train to Florence and stayed there for a day and a half, visiting all the piazza's there were to visit. I fell in love with the city. I thought it was one of the most beautiful cities I had ever visited. Walking through the narrow cobbled streets, past sculptures that famous artists like Donatello had sculpted, visiting renowned cathedrals like the Santa Maria del Fiore, or even just walking by the copy of the Statue of David by the Piazza della Signoria was mind boggling. This experience was beyond words. The only thing I missed seeing was the Primavera and the Birth of Venus, which are two famous Botticelli paintings in the Ulfizi Gallery.
My friends and I hopped on the train and went to Rome and stayed there for two nights and kept exploring. Starting out from the Colosseum, we worked our way west towards the Vatican and made sure we saw everything. We went to Venice next and it was just another world. We visited Piazza St. Marco, the Doges Palace, and the Murano. I even bought a couple of Murano frogs to send home to my parents who had so generously sponsored my trip.
On our way to Milan, the fashion capital of the world, we passed by Verona, Padua, and other cities that I would have loved to visit.
They are now on my wish list for future places that I will visit.
Now that I am back in the United States, I look back and I see how much I have grown through my travel and my international work experience. It had always been my dream to study abroad and to explore Europe, and I was able to do that because of this program. I would really like to thank the Vidalakis Family for this wonderful opportunity. I am sure, like me, all of the students who have gone in the past are truly appreciative of this opportunity.
During her time as a co-op student in Crete, Greece, Natasha Pande, a senior communications student, will chronicle her experiences for Drexel alumni in a series of online journal entries. Natasha was afforded the opportunity to work in Greece, thanks to the Vidalakis Cretan Scholars Program.
For her co-op, Natasha is currently working at Creta Maris Beach Resort as a marketing and public relations assistant. She is working on various campaigns within the hotel, writing press releases, and is working on material for the information channels of the hotel. “I feel it is important to gain experience in different fields of business and understand how methods of marketing are molded accordingly,” she said.
Natasha hopes to learn more Greek and immerse herself in the Cretan culture. She believes that an international experience will help her understand how to overcome cultural and language barriers in a work setting. She is also thoroughly enjoying the cultural exchange experience with the Erasmus students in Crete. Erasmus (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is an exchange program organized by the European Union. The European Student Network in Crete helps the Erasmus student network by planning activities for them. "The Drexel students have been adopted by the Erasmus student group and have been called the Drexelakis, 'akis' meaning people belonging to Crete," she said.
Natasha said that she is also thoroughly enjoying the cultural exchange experience with the Erasmus students in Crete. She has had the opportunity to meet and network with students from all over Europe.