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Co-op Chronicles from Crete

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

Natasha PandeAbout the Author

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 (below) 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.

Creta Maris Beach Resort

Enjoy Natasha's first journal entry below:

Greetings from Greece!
Meet the Spring/Summer 2012 Vidalakis Cretan Scholars

June 2012

In 2006, the Vidalakis Family presented Drexel University with a gift of $1 million so that Drexel students like me could have the opportunity to go to Crete, Greece for a six-month co-op and also experience the rich Cretan culture. Out of the many students that apply for this fellowship only four students are chosen per co-op cycle and are awarded $5,000 dollars each. Since the program started, a total of 51 students have participated. I was selected for the Spring/Summer cycle of 2012, along with Lydia Pappas, Elizabeth Long, and Stephanie Mualim.

Read on to meet the other Vidalakis Cretan Scholars who, like me, are fulfilling their co-ops in Greece.

Terra CretaLydia Pappas is a senior in international area studies at Drexel who is currently working at the olive oil company Terra Creta, S.A. Lydia believes that Greece is a beautiful nation, one that she has a great personal connection with through her family and heritage. By coming to Greece, she hopes to gain positive work experience, a boost to her résumé, and the knowledge that she is capable of living away from the United States for an extended period of time. “This is especially important to me as I hope to work abroad in Europe one day and I would like to determine if this is something I can handle,” she said.

Lydia's main assignment is to create a manual for distributors to help them better understand Terra Creta and its products. The manual will contain a history of olive oil and the Kolymvari region to emphasize the importance of olives and olive oil to the history of Greece, Crete and the region. It will also include a company history; explanations of the flavors, aromas, and uses of olive oil; a quality guide for evaluating and tasting olive oil; a list and description of products; listings of awards; and partners in the countries to which they export.Sea Turtle

Elizabeth "Liz" Long is a pre-junior majoring in environmental science at Drexel and is currentlyworking at Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. Inresearching possible co-op opportunities at environmental organizations in Greece, Liz discovered Archelon. So far, she has been working with the protection of sea turtles and researching the nesting of female turtles. This work is done in part by walking the nesting beaches.

Liz said that she chose to come to Greece because it is a beautiful country with so much culture and history. “I am currently learning Greek and I hope to be conversational by the time I leave,” she said. She would also like to learn more about the culture and customs of locals.

Stephanie Mualiam
Stephanie poses with all the codes she has to remember when entering in reservations for the clients.

Stephanie Mualim is a sophomore in international area studies at Drexel and she is currently working for TUI Hellas, one of the largest travel agencies in Crete. Stephanie heard about TUI through Drexel's Steinbright Career Development Center. So far she has learned how to make reservations that are coming in from different clients. She believes that living in Greece for six months will give her an opportunity to learn about a country, language and culture that she is completely unfamiliar with.

Stephanie aspires to gain a greater understanding of how a company based out of the United States functions. “I want to learn more about how culture affects the dynamics of a company and how it differs or is similar to the companies that she has worked with in the United States and in Asia,” Stephanie said.