Obies Using Languages: Olivia Fountain ’17

Olivia is a fourth-year Classical Civilization Major and Art History Minor. Olivia spent last Fall studying abroad in Athens where she learned Ancient Greek, as well as picked up on some Modern Greek.

I spent Fall 2015 studying through the College Year in Athens program. My classes included Aegean Art and Archaeology, the Hellenistic Period in Roman Egypt, Greek Mythology and Religion, and Ancient Greek Language. I would have loved to take both Ancient and Modern Greek, but I could only fit in one. Since Ancient Greek is what’s required for my Classical Civilization Major it made the most sense to choose that. Even though I couldn’t formally study Modern Greek, it was just as interesting to pick up on what I saw my classmates learning around me. They would teach me phrases and vocabulary and I was actually able to take what they taught me and use it in my daily interactions with people in Athens. I was also able to read and understand my surroundings pretty well since Modern and Ancient Greek have the same alphabets and almost the same pronunciations, so even that was amazing.

I’d say the most effective part of learning Ancient Greek in Athens was truly just the presence of the language in my surroundings. Greek isn’t a language that you see frequently in America unless you’re searching specifically for it. In Greece though there are ruins everywhere, covered in writing that dates back to thousands of years ago and has such huge meaning to it. Having these important linguistic structures around me made the language so much more tangible and real. It’s so different than learning in a classroom, just reading out of a textbook all the time. When you can actually take a field trip to a site and read these significant sources it brings the experience to a whole new level.

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