Thessaloniki Semester

Study & Volunteer on a Teaching Farm on the Mediterranean

Your academic home in Greece will be Perrotis College, also known as the American Farm School. This unique program is perfect for students interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, animal welfare, biology, veterinary medicine, horticulture, food science technology, environmental systems management and international agribusiness; all would benefit greatly from the experience to study and volunteer doing real, hands-on work in these fields.

The language of instruction is English – a lingua franca because the American Farm School was founded by Americans to serve students from the Balkan Countries who speak numerous languages. Students study and serve alongside Greek, Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and other European and international students.

Perrotis College is situated on unique rural acreage just outside of the bustling urban center of Thessaloniki and houses a state of the art-of-the-art Educational Dairy and Milk Processing Training center that includes a Holstein Friesian dairy herd that is ranked among the top 10% in the world and from which students help produce and market prize-winning dairy products. The college also houses a newly created on-campus elementary school dedicated to exposing children to environmental education through experiential-learning. The School has a long history of experiential-learning and sustainable-living and utilizes a blend of theory and practical experiences in outdoor classrooms, dairies, poultry farms, vineyards, fruit and olive orchards, vegetable gardens, greenhouses, field crop acreage and state-of-the-art science laboratories to give each student a hands-on education like no other.
I fell in love with Thessaloniki in a way that I have never loved before. Wandering around the city was healthy, exhilarating, and aligned with my desire to adventure. My study abroad experience was split between three places: Perrotis College, downtown Thessaloniki, and my home in Panorama. Perrotis College is a great place to study agriculture. My service-learning placement was at ARSIS. ARSIS is an NGO that partners with homeless street children located in downtown Thessaloniki. I taught art lessons and supported an English teacher during her English lessons. I lived with an awesome family in Panorama. My host mom Maria became my closest friend while I was abroad. She constantly supported me. We had a lot of fun.

One of my favorite travel experiences in Greece was exploring the anarchist district in Athens. I would recommend the program to anyone who is interested in agriculture, loves to explore, is politically conscious, and does not mind riding the bus. - Becca R., Seattle
Thessaloniki, the second largest city and capital of Central Macedonia, is a 2,300 year old city still playing a vital and active role as an integral international trading city for much of Southern Europe.  Thessaloniki has been called Greece’s ‘cultural capital.’ Those interested in Grecian history will adore Thessaloniki’s unique history as a symbol of the Byzantine Empire, a free state under Roman rule, captured during Ottoman rule, and the city where the Young Turk Revolution began. 

Where you'll stay in Thessaloniki

Students will live in a homestay on Perrotis campus with families of faculty and staff or off campus with local Greek families. All host families are carefully selected and experienced with hosting students. Living with local residents is part of the immersion experience. Instead of being a tourist, a student gets to know what it's like to be a "Thessalonikian."

Eligibility

The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential. TOEFL equivalent 550. No Greek language requirement.

 

Academics

Located in Thessaloniki - a key academic and commercial center in Southeastern Europe - The American Farm School at Perrotis College enables students from every country of the world to engage in active, hands-on learning in both the humanities and sciences. Students interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, animal welfare, veterinary medicine, horticulture, food science technology, environmental systems management and international agribusiness would benefit greatly from the experience to study and volunteer doing real, hands-on work in these fields.  Humanities students will also find a variety of courses available in history, culture, language and more. Theory, as well as practice, is emphasized along with practical preparation for careers. AFS Perrotis is housed on a century-old campus in Greece's second-largest city in the Northeastern part of Greece. This small school (on a large and lush campus) hosts students both from Greece and a wide range of countries including Turkey, Italy, the Balkans, Serbia and many others. The holistic nature of the program is well suited for students who want to "do and experience" as a complement to traditional academic learning. Students may take up to 18 semester credits, which includes three required courses  (7 credits) and up to three additional elective choices from a wide variety of disciplines.

With over 100 years of educating the "whole individual: the head, the hands and the heart," The American Farm School is dedicated to the fusion of theory and practice in its agricultural, life science, business and animal welfare programs. The American Farm Sschool established the Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences in 1996 and recently created a new Center for Agricultural Entrepreneurship in 2012 with a mission of creating healthy and sustainable entrepreneurship and educating future business owners. The college is unique in that it offers programs of study in more than just humanities and liberal arts. Students interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, animal welfare, veterinary medicine, horticulture, food science technology, environmental systems management and international agribusiness would benefit greatly from the experience to study and volunteer doing real, hands-on work in these fields. Humanities students will also find a variety of courses available, including the Greek Cultural Experience class - the Service-Learning seminar, The Greek Palate (Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine), From Zeus to Byzantium (Greek Mythology & the Early Christian Legacy) and many other courses offering an insight into Greek culture, then and now. Courses such as an Introduction to the European Union, Marketing Management, and more add to a business student's knowledge.
  

Required Courses

The Greek Cultural Experience

This course introduces students to various aspects of modern Greek life and culture,including basic elements of the Greek language, history, society and traditional dances. Through lectures and organized trips and tours, students are introduced to the basic concepts and experiences that will enable them to understand and respond to cultural differences. In addition, the class provides a forum through which they can reflect on and discuss their experiences.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Institutions in Greek Society: Service Learning Seminar

The Service-Learning course enables students to engage in volunteer work and service activities on the American Farm School (AFS) campus, in the Thessaloniki area and in rural Greece. Students enrolled in this class perform 10-15 hours per week of volunteer service by choosing from a variety of activities, which can be done on an individual or group basis. These activities include doing volunteer work in one of the departments of the AFS Educational Farm (e.g. assisting the veterinarian or helping in the greenhouses, winery, dairy or poultry units, animal rehabilitation), tutoring high school students in English, serving in the Landscaping Department or other areas of the American Farm School’s operation; or doing volunteer service for charities, NGOs or ecologically-oriented organizations in the larger Thessaloniki area; serving in the Daycare/Kindergarten School where students teach English. 

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Reflections / Service Learning Practicum Seminar (ONLINE)

This course is delivered virtually and begins before departure and completes after returning. The content includes both pre-departure and post departure information, discussion and reflection and serves to compliment the Institutions in Society Course. The course explores the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning™ to help make sense of the international experience and to develop intercultural competence. One credit will be awarded for 15 hours of academic reflections work and 2 credits for the  hands-on service-learning volunteering.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Optional courses offered

Students may take up to 9 credits (3 additional courses) per semester from the following options. Please note that not all courses will be available all terms.

The Greek Palate (Greek Cuisine)

This course is to provide students with basic information about Greek cuisine and what it is comprised of. It highlights the nutritional significance of the Mediterranean diet, the culture and the eating habits of Greece. Students interested in diet and eating habits as a way of understanding culture and society will enjoy this courses hands-on experience, in both cooking, as well as the seeking of ingredients in local markets, taverns, wineries, and farms. Students will use reflection to help them establish and understand the relationships between food and culture. 

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Principles of Food Science

This course provides an overview of the basic food constituents and the importance in promoting health and preventing disease, as well as the reasons for food spoilage and methods of prevention. The curriculum is developed around four interrelated knowledge blocks: the management of food production, introduction to food science, food spoilage, safety and food processing.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Agro-Tourism Principles and Practices

The concept of Agro-tourism is similar to ecotourism in that it is a nature-based form of tourism that involves a hands-on approach to learning about the environment. Agro-tourism provides the tourist an opportunity to experience agricultural life first hand, for example on a traditional farm. Therefore, there is often some overlap with other nature-based forms of tourism, such ecotourism and adventure tourism.  The aim of this course is to present students with the basic concepts connected to the tourism industry, to demonstrate how Agro-tourism is distinct from and relates to other nature-based tourism, including ecotourism, adventure tourism and rural tourism, and familiarize them with the essential components of a typical Agro-tourism venue. Emphasis is given on defining the supportive components of developing an Agro-tourism concern, including the economic, agricultural, legal and environmental.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

SOME Additional courses that may be offered during Spring semesters:

Entrepreneurship

This course focuses on critical aspects of a business plan in the areas of orientation, strategic planning, financial considerations, location, layout and beginning inventory. Additional topics include effective operation of an established business with emphasis on strategic planning, market analysis, pricing, inventory control and credit collections.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Environmental Business Management

This course provides an introduction to agro-environmental business management in the free enterprise system with an emphasis of management of agricultural production. It includes the study of basic management concepts, economic principles, budgeting, accounting, finance, risk-management, productions, factors, and marketing.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3

Management of Livestock Production

This course focuses on contemporary management practices that enhance livestock productivity. Additionally, it introduces students to the issues of product quality assurance and the well-being of livestock.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended US credits: 3


Volunteer

As a service-learning participant in Thessaloniki, Greece, you will have the opportunity to do volunteer work in one of several local agencies. We do our best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work. Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.

The service-learning program in Thessaloniki offers students the opportunity to experience service in a city where students engage in volunteer work and service activities on the American Farm School campus, in the local Thessaloniki area and in rural Greece. Students perform 10-15 hours per week of volunteer service by choosing from a variety of agencies, organizations and with a wide range of populations.

Service may include doing volunteer work

  • on the Educational Farm by assisting the veterinarian or helping in the greenhouses, landscaping department, orchards, winery, dairy or poultry farms
  • tutoring high school students in English
  • with children in the campus daycare, kindergarten and elementary school teaching environmental education through experiential-learning
  • serving in local NGOs or ecologically-oriented organizations
  • serving with at risk/homeless youth at ARSIS--the Greek Social Organization for Youth Support (tutoring; food and clothing distribution; social, artistic and recreational activities; mentoring; job placement skills)
  • volunteering with organizations helping endangered animals

Organizations that may be available for service include:

  • American Farm School Educational Farm
  • Activities: Assisting the veterinarians, or volunteering in the greenhouses, landscaping department, winery, vineyard, orchards, fields dairy or poultry farms.
  • Project-based volunteering in service of the American Farm School Farm needs
  • American Farm School Horticultural Department
  • Assisting in various plant research activities in the campus greenhouses.
  • Completion of research-based projects in sustainable agriculture
  • American Farm School High School
  • Tutoring students in English
  • American Farm School Pre-school, Kindergarten and Elementary School
  • Tutoring students in English and engaging in environmental education projects
  • American Farm School Campus Educational Programs
  • Providing direct service and project-based assistance to staff engaged in fundraising and the promotion of campus educational activities.
  • American Farm School Campus Store
  • Volunteering on projects that will improve the marketing and selling of AFS products in the campus retail store.
  • ARSIS
    • ARSIS is an NGO that helps homeless street children (and their parents) giving direct service to homeless and at-risk children and youth by providing English tutoring and peer social interaction through sports, art, music, etc. Located in the center of Thessaloniki, students would be tutoring young children, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 16 in English and also participate in other activities connected to helping these children.  It takes approximately 45 minutes to go, by bus, to the ARSIS center.
  • Asylum for the Child
    • A school (located within walking distance of campus) that assists the children of economically disadvantaged families in Thessaloniki.  Students can work with classroom teachers in the elementary school, assisting them in a variety of ways but mostly helping them teach the children English.
  • Arktouros
    • Assisting staff in caring for endangered animal species of Northern Greece, maintaining and staffing the visitors center and providing public conversation and environmental information and education. 

Things to do

Travel is considered to be an essential element of the study abroad experience. Through their explorations of Greece, students gain a unique awareness of the country, its culture and its resources, and are more fully able to apply their classroom learning to the Greek reality.

As part of the onsite orientation upon arrival, students will be given a day-long guided city tour highlighting some of the important historical sites and museums in Thessaloniki. This will serve as an introduction to the rich history of this part of Greece as well as provide a logistical orientation to the city.

Examples of additional excursions that may be included are:


Mt. Olympus & Dion (two days, one night)

Students will enjoy a hike up to Mt. Olympus home of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greek Mythology.

Athens (four days, three nights) 

Students will have the opportunity to spend four days in Athens exploring everything this 3,400 year old city has to offer.  Example: The Hellenic Parliament and the Acropolis. 
 

Optional Sailing Trip (four days, three nights, additional fee)

An unforgettable journey to the Aegean islands of Alonissos, Skiathos and Skopelos and the National Marine Park


In addition to the above trips, students taking the Greek Cultural Experience and other classes go on short excursions and field trips that are related to the class content, including visits to museums and markets, organic farms and vineyards, and nearby exhibitions and fairs.

All study abroad participants are encouraged—especially those in a semester program—to take part in all aspects of Perrotis College’s active student life. The Student Life Department and the Student Council organize numerous social, cultural and athletic activities for the entire student body, including barbecue parties and day trips to nearby hot springs, beaches, and ski resorts.

To help students make the most of their time in Greece and Southeastern Europe, we also help interested students organize their own weekend trips or excursions to various Greek islands and mainland destinations. Students in Thessaloniki may also work with program staff in Thessaloniki and on the American Farm School campus to arrange for independent travel to other regions of Greece. A visit to Mt. Athos (the oldest surviving monastic community in the world and a designated World Heritage site) and Phillip II's (Father of Alexander the Great) tomb and museum are popular and there are many opportunities to experience the natural beauty of the region. Camping, river rafting, beach excursions and gorge hiking experiences abound.

As with all travel, weather and other travel hindrances can affect the exact destinations of excursions. In such cases, program staff make every effort to find suitable replacement itineraries.

AFSNext seal of approval

This program is implemented by a trusted organization within the AFSNext partnership community and has our full endorsement. While not managed or operated by AFS, it maintains the same exceptional quality standards, which are set by a network of experienced international non-profits operating within the international education field.