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From Greece to Lubbock

Story by Trevor Schafer


When walking down the halls of the Agricultural Education and Communications building, you will find offices with graduate and doctoral students just like in any other building.

In the doctoral office you will find several young women, all of who seem to look like any other doctoral students that is, until you hear Maria speak.

Her accent sounds completely different than any of the other women in the room, and that is when you realize she is not from around here.

Maria Kalyvaki is a doctoral student from the Greek island of Samos, a small island with a population of around 40,000 people in the Aegean Sea.

She arrived in Lubbock last August, a place she says is vastly different than her home country. “You have desert around Lubbock,” said Kalyvaki, “but I had sea.”

She said it has been an extreme change to be here in West Texas, but it is the change she wanted.

The cultural differences, mainly the food, have been a major hurdle for her to overcome, but she said she really enjoys the people.
“I like the people here because they are very friendly,” said Kalyvaki. “I like that I feel very comfortable.”

Maria is no stranger to the academic world and her resume would put most to shame in the education category.

At the age of 28, she has already acquired a bachelor’s degree in agriculture technology and three master’s degrees in education, environmental studies and marine sciences at universities in Greece.

While working on her thesis in education, she said she came across a paper dealing with agricultural education from Texas Tech.Maria had wanted to come to the United States to study, and with an agricultural education interest, Tech became a logical choice.

She is now enjoying life here in West Texas, and said the new experiences she has encountered have been great, whether it be dealing with different people or adapting to the different culture.   

“I like it here because I don’t know anyone,” said Maria, “and I have to learn how to survive somehow and meet new people.”
She has also found another quality she enjoys.“I really like the country style that you have here,” she said with a smile.

This interest in the country style has led her to become a fan of the local dance halls in Lubbock where she is improving on her two-stepping skills. One of her favorite activities is going out to dance with her friends.

She said she still has a long way to go before she has the dancing mastered but plans on continuing her learning.

Maria also said she still has not adjusted to the fast food restaurants of Lubbock.She explained how she was extremely fond of her homeland island of Samos and said she does miss the cooking, and her family.

Maria said growing up she was able to enjoy nature and loved being outside all of the time on their small family tract where they raise their own vegetables, make olive oil and raise grape vines for making wine.

“We do it the old way where you have to step on the grapes,” Maria said.

Although she is not fond of the alcohol, she said making wine is still one of the activities she enjoys to do while home.

Maria’s mother has passed away, but her father continues to live on the island, and her sister is completing her master’s in marine science in Athens.

Maria said her sister, unlike herself, is not planning on continuing her studies in the United States.

Maria said she enjoys the weather here in Lubbock and has had the opportunity to see more snow this spring than she ever has. She enjoys riding her bike around campus every morning before class but hopes to get a car once she completes her requirements for a driver’s license.

“I had a car in Greece but here I can’t drive,” she said laughing.

For now, Maria is looking forward to using her knowledge of environmental studies in her doctoral studies where she is studying agriculturists’ perceptions of climate change.

This spring she is dividing her time with the plant and soil sciences department where she is teaching two labs for the introduction to horticulture class at Texas Tech.

Maria said she plans to be at Tech for the next three to four years, but said she is uncertain of her plans after her doctoral completion.                                    

She said the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Tech has been a great opportunity for her to study as a foreigner.

 Kalyvaki said, “I think that if you want to study agriculture you should come to Texas because I believe that it is a major place for agriculture in the U.S.”