What a trip! I just got back from a 10-day trip to Greece last Monday night, for the International Institutes Class taught by professor Michael Goldberg. I participated in the class last semester in Strasbourg, France, and enjoyed it so much I decided to do it again.
Greek people were very friendly and welcoming. I was surprised that the people we met were so cheerful given the economic hardship the country is going though. The stereotype of ‘lazy Greek” is simply not true. The people we meet were hard working and entrepreneurial. Tourism, agriculture and shipping are some of the primary economic drivers in Greece.
Politically, the modern Hellenic Republic (Greece) was formed in 1830 as a result of a revolutionary war with the Ottoman empire. Before its independence, Greece was occupied by numerous other empires, which left a rich mix of cultural heritage. One thing in particular that is reflected in today’s Athens is that the city is built on top of ancient ruins. Modern department stores have glass floors peering into archaeological excavations of ancient Athens. You can go down some unmarked stair well and come across the remains of ancient fortifications. Strolling through Athens’ city center, you’ll find roman bath houses, Athenian markets and Ottoman churches. And there is the always present Acropolis, which is lit up brilliantly by spot lights.
During our stay in Athens, we visited local businesses, both well established and new startups, and learned about their challenges and difficulties. We also visited companies and attended lectures. As part of a consulting project, we were paired with a local startup company trying to grow its business. The consulting project was a unique opportunity to experience Greece’s economic environment first hand. Overall the trip was educational and eye opening.