If you want to learn Greek, taking classes in the country itself and enjoy the vibrant culture, beautiful beaches and impressive history of Greece while you immerse yourself in the local lifestyle is a great way to advance your language learning.
You can explore the busy city and cool, alternative culture of Athens or the beautiful university town of Thessaloniki, visit the museums and historic sites showcasing Greece's rich history, or enjoy some of the stunning beaches and beautiful natural landmarks the country is known for while basking in the Mediterranean sun.
Alongside learning the basics of the Greek language from local, highly trained instructors, you will fall in love the country's great food scene, incredible nightlife, natural beauty, and friendly people.
Most instruction takes place primarily in Greek Universities – and courses are taught in Greek, though there are some branches of American and UK universities in Athens that offer instruction in English for those who are at a less advanced Greek language level. Athens and Thessaloniki are home to several prestigious Greek universities, and studying at a local institution of higher education gives foreign students the chance to socialize and mingle with local Greeks, thus further improving learners' Greek conversational skills through immersion.
Alternatively, you can also enroll in some of the smaller universities on the islands or in the countryside to enjoy a different, more laid-back pace of living.
Language schools and institutes offer a wide range of courses, and are usually better at helping students improve on specific areas of the language they want to learn. Always check to make sure the institution and teacher are both accredited. Throughout the country, including the main cities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra and the islands throughout the rest of Greece, you can find schools with a variety of class sizes, frequency and intensity, as well as prices; this way, you are sure to find one that fits your schedule, goals, and budget.
For those who prefer to learn in a private setting rather than in a classroom, private tutors can help you with personalized lessons tailored to your strengths and weaknesses in Greek. If you want to learn Greek but can't commit to the regular class schedule of a language school or university and need a more flexible solution, private tutors may also be the best choice for you.
Private tutors will usually be more expensive than language school classes, but it's possible to find tutors that charge as little as €10 per hour, especially since wages in Greece tend to be lower than the European and North American average
Planning Your Trip
You can find accommodation in Greece fairly easily, however it is unlikely your university or institution will provide housing options for you. Dormitories are not a given in most Greek universities, so you will most likely have to rent nearby apartments on your own; you can definitely ask about housing options, but still make sure to check local rentals or other housing choices.
There are plenty of websites to help accommodate you, including To Spiti Mou, Spitogatos, and even Airbnb; rentals are sometimes done much more easily after you have arrived in the country. A lot of business in Greece operates on word of mouth, so if you make new friends and acquaintances, ask if they know of any apartments or houses for rent.
EU citizens do not need a student visa for studying Greek in Greece. For non-EU citizens, if you are studying with a private tutor or in a language institution for a period shorter than 90 days, you can do so on a tourist visa from most countries, including the US. However, if you plan to enroll in a university course or take a class at a language institution lasting longer than 90 days, you must apply for a Greek student visa.
Universities will require proof of a student visa before beginning your classes, so be sure to apply and obtain the visa well in advance of your course start date.
Check with your nearest Greek embassy or consulate to make sure you have all your papers in order for a student visa application; general requirements include a passport valid for 6 months after your departure date from Greece, proof of sufficient funds to sustain you during your stay in Greece, proof of insurance, and an admission letter from the institution or university at which you plan to study.
Although Greek culture may vary quite a bit depending on the region you study in, Greeks tend to be very social, friend and family oriented, and more laid back than the average European or North American. They are also usually warm and welcoming towards non-Greeks. In fact, you may receive better treatment and experience a higher level of friendliness outside the major tourist centers, as the top travel spots in Greece tend to suffer from a kind of 'tourist fatigue', and people may at first be a little abrupt when recognizing you're a stranger. Even in these parts of the country though, a little politeness and warmth goes a long way, as does learning a couple of Greek phrases before even arriving.
Most Greeks, especially from the younger generations, know fairly decent English, so you can make friends even if your Greek language skills aren't that advanced. Coffee culture is a big part of most Greeks' social life, as is nightlife and beach life in the summer. Though the rhythm of life is different in the big cities than it is on the Greek islands or the country's small towns, Greeks are still overall are known for their relaxed culture.
Costs & Funding
The cost of living in Greece is generally quite affordable compared to most Western European countries; however, if you decide to learn Greek in a top tourist destination within Greece during the summer months, costs of food and accommodation may be substantially higher because of high demand, so it is important to pick the location and season in which you choose to learn Greek in Greece carefully.
The price of accommodation in big cities can vary considerably depending on which area of the city you choose to live in; however, you can get a good 1-bedroom accommodation in central Athens or Thessaloniki, the biggest cities in Greece, for between €200 to €500 a month. Though you may expect to find cheaper accommodation on the small towns of the islands, accommodation on some islands, especially the tourist hotspots of Mykonos, Santorini, Zakynthos, Crete, and other vacation destinations, can actually be much pricier than on the mainland or in the major Greek urban centers.
Regarding language classes and university courses, the cost of classes varies based on the length of instruction and the institution of choice, but you can generally expect to pay between €550 and €1000 per semester.