Griechenland 2019 – Athen

– by Elias Zervudakis

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The Greek university system is very similar to the German one. During the semester you have to attend lectures and submit homework, the exams take place in the last 3 weeks of the semester. The exam schedule is released around 2 months before the exam period. Each course has 6 ECTS and as an Erasmus student you can choose from all Bachelor and Master courses offered by the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications.

While the majority of courses are held in Greek, each semester around five courses are held in English. These are designed for the students of the English-language Master ‘Data Science and Information Technologies’ and the students of the Erasmus Mundus joint degree program ‘Smartnet‘.

Although there are hundreds of law and philosphy Erasmus+ students from all over Europe studying at the National and Kapodistrian University each year, the Department of Informatics has almost no international cooperation. I was the Departments first Erasmus+ student in years. This is also the reason why, unlike the Athens University of Economics and Business which is our second Greek partner university, the Department of Informatics does not offer special courses for Erasmus+ students. The university regulations require the lecturer to give you an alternative project in case you want to attend a lecture held only in Greek. Since I am a proficient Greek speaker I did not make use of this option.

The university offers a free Greek language course which takes place twice a week at the Modern Greek Language Teaching Centre. If you want to attend one of the higher level  (B1, B2, C1) classes  instead of the basic CEFR A1 class you have to take a placement test in the first week.

All Erasmus students are entitled to two free meals seven days a week at the university restaurant. Each meal includes fruits, starters, salad, a main course and desert.

Main Building of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Main Building of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Course selection

At the time of this writing the list of courses was only available in Greek. The list of courses on the English version of the department website is outdated and has not been updated since the complete restructuring of all degree programs last year. Do not use the English-language list for planning.

You can translate the course titles and descriptions from the Greek website using Google Translate. In any case you should write the department secretary and ask for the latest list of courses. You can find the Greek list of courses here:

The application at the University of Athens was very straightforward. Ms. Velinati from the Department of European and International Relations swiftly answered all questions that came up in my preparation. The website for incoming Erasmus students has extensive information about all aspects of your stay. Ms. Froso and Mr. Koubarakis from the Department of Informatics helped me with my course selection and were always at hand when I had questions during my stay in Athens.

Below a list of all courses I attended over the course of two semesters and their respective counterparts at the University of Koblenz:
  • Knowledge Technologies (M164) as Semantic Web (04IN2023)
  • Machine Learning (M124) as Machine Learning and Data Mining (04IN2028)
  • High-Scale Data Analysis Techniques (M161) as Data Science (04IN2043)
  • Business Processes Technology (M163) as Business Process Management (04WI2016)
  • Internet Applications (M118) as Introduction to Web Science (04IN2026)
  • Algorithmic Graph Theory (M101) as Network Theory and Dynamic Systems (04IN2027)
  • Cloud Computing Systems (M125) as Research Work (04FB2002)
  • Safety of Networks and Telecommunication Systems (M107) as IT Risk Management (04WI2024)
  • Big Data Management (M111) as Seminar Web Science (04IN2039)

 

Gruppenfoto Machine Learning Dezember 2018
Group picture of international students at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications with Machine Learning professor Sergios Theodoridis

Accommodation

Athens has an active housing market with a wide selection of available furnished flats and flat shares. Most students choose to live in the areas Zografou, Kesariani or Pangrati. If you choose to live in a more distant part of Athens you will need 45 to 60 minutes to commute to the university. The university shuttle bus 250 runs every 10 to 20 minutes from the Evangelismos metro station.

Rent in a flat share should be around 100-200 Euro, Erasmus students often pay a hefty premium price of up to 350 Euro. Landlords usually request payment of  multiple months rent before moving in. Even though the rental agreements mention heating, due to the ongoing financial crisis many oil heated buildings in Athens are not heated in the cold winter months. Some landlords provide small electrical fan heaters as a substitute which do a poor job of heating a room. When choosing accomodation for the winter semester you should therefore make 100% sure to have gas heating or a heating system covering one floor.

Department of Informatics and Telecommunications entrance along with the department's cat
Department of Informatics and Telecommunications entrance along with the department’s cat

Useful apps & websites

University

Official website of the Metro and Tram operation company

Beat: The most used Taxi app in Greece.

Apergia.gr: Latest info on all strikes and public holidays

Monastiraki Square, Athens Greece
Monastiraki Square with the Acropolis in the background
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