By Tristan E. M. Leach
In 2022, Greece ranked third in “healthy life years” of all the European Union, according to the Greek Reporter, a Greek news outlet.
One year later, in the summer of 2023, 18 Rider students and two professors traveled to the islands for a one of a kind experience in health and wellness. The class, Science of Well-Being, was taught by psychology professors Stephanie Golski and Anne Law. The goal of the class was to understand how different components of the human experience: relationships, intellect, self-respect and more, make up a happy life or a life of well-being.
Students had the opportunity to explore Greece and also attend events, classes and tours. Through these many experiences, the class explored how Greek people use natural resources and their culture to lead a more productive and fulfilling life.
Anjali Chennapragada, ’23, was a health care policy major while at Rider. Chennapragada found the class was another great way to understand how public health is perceived and works in another country.
“This was a great trip because I got to see how lifestyle impacts people’s biological health, measures and outcomes. Getting to see how the Greek people automatically integrate that into workplaces, their diet, into their movement and all of that science is there. We also got to see alternative health methods that pushed me to broaden my perspective of what health is coming from a very Western setting,” said Chennapragada.
Throughout the trip there were a multitude of oppurtunities for the class to see how health and wellness differs from what they have come to know in the U.S. Students went to a beekeeper who makes her honey from scratch, fresh daily. They also danced with and ate side by side with the local Greek people.
Senior mathematics major Emily Russo always had an interest in well-being and how she could better herself through learning more about the body and the mind. Russo appreciated the small class size while on her trip.
“It was a tight-knit kind of group and everyone was super involved. I got to talk to everyone and really get to know everyone. [You] really got to know their perspective on things. When we did cooking classes [it] was pretty intimate and everything felt super personal,” said Russo.
Throughout their time in Athens and Ikaria, the students learned about Greek culture and traditions. A highlight of the trip was a dance lesson followed by a celebration that locals invited the students to participate in. In addition to dancing there was conversation and music throughout the night.
Cheenapragada said, “We did [a] dancing lesson and then we went to a Panigiri, which is a dance celebration all the local people do. It was very sweaty and fun. Everybody was in there and the locals accepted us with open arms as we were dancing. It was so much fun.”
The trip was a once- in-a-lifetime experience, where every student left with a smile on their face. As they went through U.S. customs with their bags loaded with honey, each brought back the knowledge and growth that study abroads at Rider always hoped to have.
Hannah Newman is an editor for The Rider News and participated in the Science of Well-Being class. Newman had no part in the writing or editing of this article.