Friday, September 7, 2012


by Jialing Ye

I appreciate coming on this trip with my fellow students this summer. It is a very fun and meaningful trip. I am learning a lot about renewable energy, and I have fun by visiting all the beautiful places in Greece, too. Before I came to Greece, my parents and I were both worried about this trip, because we heard that the economic situation is very bad in Greece. I thought that this trip might be dangerous. Obviously, I was over-thinking too much. This trip has helped me learn more about different cultures, and also about renewable energy in the EU.

When I first came to Greece, I thought that the environment looked similar to China. I think it’s because they are both developing countries. Different from Chicago, Athens has more of a night life. There are a lot of people sitting outside of the restaurants and bars, chatting and watching football games. This is totally different from the Greece that I imagined. I thought that since Greece is experiencing an economic crisis, people would not go out to spend money at night. After I spent few more weeks in Greece, I knew I was wrong. I can tell that the economy is worse than before, because when we passed by the shops, many items are on sale. Also, I see some unfinished construction buildings. I think every country will survive this kind of economic crisis, even the U.S.  I feel very safe and comfortable in Greece.
The Parthenon

I really enjoy my days in Greece. I can tell that the culture here is different from the culture in U.S or China. People know more about how to enjoy life. Every Sunday, almost all the shops are closed. People will stay at home or go to park. At night, people will go to the bar to drink and chat with their friends, no matter what. In restaurants, waiters serve everything at a slow pace. This is quite different than life in America. I feel like people are so chilled and relaxed here. Greeks are not very rich, but they know how to enjoy their life. I think this is what we can learn from them. In addition, the people in Greece are very nice to foreigners. We stopped by a restaurant to buy water on the way to Volos, and the owner of the restaurant give us a lot of gifts and free tea. We also met a lot of different people, and they all wanted to help us. I am very thankful that I met all kinds of people and got to know more about the Greek culture.
Sunflower on a Greek farm

I noticed that a lot of things are environmentally friendly in Greece. Every supermarket has a basket to recycle batteries. On the buildings’ roofs, I can see a lot of solar heater machines. Wind turbines can be seen frequently on the mountains. Photovoltaic can be seen a lot, too. When I passed by the supermarket, I saw a lot of advertisements for renewable energy. I find that using renewable energy is part of their life style already. Greece offers examples of how to develop renewable energy.

Overall, I think this trip is having a substantial effect on me. I am not only learning about renewable energy, but also about a different culture and lifestyle. I’ve opened my mind and broadened my horizons. This has been an unforgettable trip.

This article is one in a series of blog entries written by University of Illinois students who were selected to travel to Greece to participate in a four-week Renewable Energy Concepts Study and Cultural Tour, provided by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Tour participants embarked on technical field trips, cultural excursions, and collaborated with students from the Agricultural University of Athens and the University of Thessaly in Volos to solve real-world engineering problems. This program is partially supported by the European Union Center through a US Department of Education Title VI grant.

Jialing Ye is a junior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Environmental Engineering. She resides in Chicago.


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