Canadian vs. Greek Universities

by Angela from Canada

  Over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to observe three universities in Thessaloniki, Greece. I’ve noticed some stark differences between the universities here and the university I attend in London, Ontario in Canada. These differences are a clear reflection of the lifestyle, culture, and atmosphere of the people and landscape, and it’s quite incredible to be able to witness them.

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

  One the major differences I saw between my university and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was that smoking indoors was allowed. Given that Canada has very strict regulations on smoking, I can’t imagine ever seeing students smoking in school buildings. Another difference was the atmosphere of the buildings. From what I could see, the classrooms and hallways of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki were poorly lit with very few windows, and they also had walls marked with lots of graffiti. This is the opposite in my university where an emphasis is placed on creating bright, clean work spaces to encourage students to learn and focus on class material. There is no graffiti allowed on the walls and desks. Moreover, our buildings always have a source of natural sunlight. On the flip side, one aspect of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that impressed me was the cafeteria that served free food, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. That’s an incredible help for students that struggle with finding time and money to cook for themselves.

International Hellenic University

  The International Hellenic University resembles my university much more than the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It is a private university for masters and graduate students only. It has a much smaller student base, with only 400 students, compared to the 70,000 at the Aristotle University. All the courses are taught in English, and there is an emphasis on bright white walls, well-lit classrooms, and colourful décor. It is quite far from the city centre of Thessaloniki, and is accessible by only one bus. But the staff are incredibly friendly and the teachers are extremely accommodating to students’ needs.

American College of Thessaloniki

  The American College of Thessaloniki is situated in a quiet and nice neighbourhood, surrounded by trees, flowers, and grass. The buildings have preserved the traditional white stone exterior, while the interior has been renovated to be quite modern. A fair portion of the students here are on study abroad programs from North America and Europe, so classes are taught in English. The atmosphere is one of a smaller, friendly, more close-knit group of teachers and students.

  All in all, there are many differences between the universities I visited. They all have their own personality that appeals to different kinds of people. I’m not saying that one university is better than another – just simply that the universities each have their own character and that it’s important to understand these differences to make the best choice for yourself.