Taxi service

Taxi service
TAXI SERVICE, for all your holiday needs while you are travelling in Hania. If you're coming to Hania and you need a taxi, maybe we can help you out. For quotes and prompt service, drop me a line at: mverivaki hotmail com

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Cretan gastronomy

Sneak preview of what I'll be discussing soon, in good company (more details later).

Crete is the largest island of Greece, with a permanent population of 600,000. At 8500 sq. km., it is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Blessed by the gods, unique in the world, thanks to the generous gifts of nature and history, its mild climate, fertile soils and strategic location have bestowed on Crete the gift of year-round agricultural activities with an age-old pastoral culture. Its majestic canyons, caves and plateaus cohabit fields and plains covered in thousands of olive trees, endless vineyards and the richest flora of Europe, all contained within 1000 kilometers of coastline.


Crete is believed to be the cradle of European civilization, and in modern times, the gastronomic traditions of Crete have given rise to what is known as the Mediterranean Diet, with extra-virgin olive oil at its base. For this reason, Cretan cuisine is regarded as one of the healthiest cuisines of the modern world. To this day, Cretan people proudly continue the agricultural and culinary traditions of their ancestors, with a high reliance on grains, grapes and olives, which is what gives us the most famous ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet, extra-virgin olive oil.



The history of Crete is backed up by nearly 8000 years of continuous population of the island. The Minoan civilisation, developed in Crete from 2500 BC to 1100 BC, is regarded as the most significant civilization that first flourished in Europe, attested by the presence of the palace of Knossos. During the period of classical antiquity, Crete was still on the fringes of the Greek world. It did not take part in the Persian wars or the Peloponnesian War. In the Hellenistic, the Roman and the Byzantine periods, Crete remained relatively untouched. This all changed when it was occupied by the Venetians in 1204, when it became an important trading post in the Venetian Republic. Crete maintained its importance in this way for four centuries until it passed into Ottoman occupation 1669. When the Ottoman Empire fell, Crete was declared an autonomous state in 1895, until it was unified with Greece in 1913. In the 20th century, Crete was plagued by post-war circumstances, with poverty and emigration. But the 21st century finds the island in a very different situation, mainly due to the spread of mass tourism. In the summer period alone, Crete hosts over three million visitors a year. If it weren't for tourism, Crete can be said to be relatively independent in its food supply.


Crete is intensively cultivated by the local population, which is engaged in the primary sector, producing mainly extra virgin olive oil, grapes, wine, vegetables and cheese, with a smaller proportion of meat products. Crete also hosts the highest number of PDO and PGI products in Greece. Crete's land-based agricultural traditions provide the impetus for the daily cooking habits of the Cretan people. Cretan food is based on fresh local seasonal produce. The abundance and ease with which a seed grows into a fruit or vegetable on the island provide the source of inspiration for Cretan gastronomy, all based on the the simple olive fruit, with aromatic plants added to dishes to strengthen their flavour. It produces olives and olive oil, grapes and wine, orange and other citrus, many fruits in general, wine and spirits, a wide variety of fresh and hard cheeses, cured meats of all sorts, fresh and dried bread products, thyme flavoured honey, wild greens and aromatic plants, and all manner of vegetables.

The Cretan diet, which is now known worldwide, attracted the interest of the scientific community in 1948, when the Rockefeller Foundation conducted surveys in Crete. The island's culinary traditions were regarded as a model of the Mediterranean cuisine, which was recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Olive oil is actually the biggest secret of the Cretan diet and longevity of Cretans. Around 85 per cent of the olive oil produced in Crete is extra virgin quality. At 35 litres per person per year, Cretan olive oil consumption is the highest in the world. Many families own olive trees that not only meet their daily needs but provide a supplementary income. The island has 40 million olive trees — that’s an average of 70 trees per person. Olive tree cultivation is believed to have been pioneered 5,000 years ago by the Minoans who used it in their diet, as a cleanser, a scent and an ointment. The high quality crop is attributed to the island’s soil and climate — hot dry summers, cool autumns and rainy winters.

The Cretan earth is a botanical paradise with over 1700 species of plants, of which 159 are endemic. The Cretan kitchen uses herbs, especially oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint, cumin and fennel, and Cretans still like to brew malotira, a plant gathered from the mountain tops, to make mountain tea), together with other aromatic tisanes like dictamus, sage, marjoram and chamomile. These plants are not only eaten by the people, but also by the animals raised on the island for food purposes, which gives rise to their exceptional flavour. And many Cretans still maintain a tradition of pastoral life from prehistoric times to the present day. Cheese is often served with fresh fruit, it is offered as an appetizer and it is even presented as a dessert wrapped in pastry and topped with honey. Pastry products also form a significant part of the Cretan diet.

Cretans eat less fish than perhaps would be considered normal for an island people. Cretans are more likely to worship snails which they cook in various ways, boiled, fried and stewed. Lamb is roasted in the oven or stewed with vegetables. Meat is often boiled and eaten with rice flavoured in its stock, known as pilafi, which constitutes the main meal of a traditional Cretan wedding. Of the dozens of unique recipes of the island, the most typical local dishes are characterised mainly by wild greens and vegetables. The most well known dish of Crete which has been adopted by the whole of Greece is the dakos, which consists of dried bread slices, also known as rusks, topped by grated tomato, fresh cheese and oregano.

Crete is also believed to have the highest cheese consumption in the world. Dairy products of the island form the basis of many traditional Cretan dishes. Cheese is consumed in Crete at all hours of the day, as an accompaniment, starter, main snack, or even as a dessert. Despite the modernisation of milk production techniques, the traditional form of farming is still based on the experience of many centuries. Nowadays, milk is pasteurized, culture is added, and he milk is heated at specific temperatures to make cheese.

The Cretan diet is all about eating everything that this land produces — organic vegetables and fruit packed full of nutrients, as well as liberal quantities of olive oil, wheat and herbs. Cretan delicacies will delight your taste buds. Cretans linger for hours over freshly-cooked meals. Lunch often extende into dinner. One day, It’s a way of life that is starting to change as youngsters move away from villages to the towns and cities. But Cretans still maintain a passion for their local food and it is this enthusiasm that we want to share with our guests to the island.




So I wish you all bon appetit! As the Greeks say, Kali Orexi!

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Athens 2016: Aigina

An Athens holiday is not compete without a bit of Greek island hopping. The island of Aigina is the closest to the capital, making the island one of the most popular island-hopping destinations on a Greek holiday as well as a favorite weekend outing for Athenians all year round, some of whom own holiday homes here. I did a bit of island hopping in my early Greek days, but living so far away from the mainland - on an island for that matter - has somewhat curtailed such experiences. I decided to try an island experience during my recent trip to Athens to get away from the heat of the concrete.

Only an hour or so away by ferry from Athens' main port in Pireas, Aigina can also be reached more quickly by hovercraft, small but very fast catamaran-style boats, lessening the travel time considerably. The island is only about 20km wide and 30km long, with a permanent population of 14,000. It overlooks the Peloponnese and Salamina island where the Battle of Salamis took place.

 The marina in the town of Aigina town, the synonymous port on the island, overlooking the Peloponnese    

A view from the town beach of Aigina, overlooking the small island of Agistri with a permanent population of about 1000 people.

Historically, Aigina is known for many things: an important marine power with greater significance than Athens before it went into decline, the first known mint in the western world leading to the hypothesis that Aigina introduced coins to Europe, the ancient ruins of Aphea which consist of a well preserved Parthenon-like temple, and in modern times, the first saint of the Greek Orthodox church - St Nektarios, who founded a monastery on the island - to be photographed. But if you ask today's Greeks what they know about Aigina, they will all unanimously tell you about the thriving pistachio industry on the island: about 10,000 tonnes of pistachio are produced there every year.

Pistachio tree on Aigina, overlooking the island of Salamina in the background

Beach at Ayia Marina, a coastal village in eastern Aigina

The ruins of the Temple of Aphaia, built in the Doric style

The reasons concerning how such a high-end product came to be the main crop on such a small Greek island are a lesson in sustainability. The island was never really self-sufficient, and this is still an issue in modern times. Aegina relies on the mainland for most of her supplies, including her water needs. Towards the end of the 19th century, the pistachio pioneer Nikolaos Peroglou realised that the nut was a low-demand crop, which survived easily on bad soil, meaning that it would yield a high price with few costs. Peroglou gave away pistachio saplings as presents which people planted in their gardens, usually among their grapevines and olive trees, the more traditional crops of Greece.

Looking out towards Salamina island, from the northeast of Aigina

The misery of WWII saw Aigina suffering the greatest percentage of death by starvation in the whole country, surpassing Athens. After the war, the island's grapevines were attacked by the fatal phylloxera blight. Local farmers often replaced each dying vine with a pistachio sapling so that they could continue to trade in a product. This basically led to the rise in pistachio cultivation on the island. Aigina pistachio has enjoyed PDO status for the last two decades.

Pistachio products in sale in a stall near the port of Aigina

Visiting the island from Athens, the visitor will see the importance of the pistachio from the first instance as they stop onto the island's main port, also called Aegina. Pistachio producers set up stalls there, selling a multitude of products which all contain pistachio: salted and unsalted pistachios, with or without the shell, pistachio sweets and savouries, crackers and pastes, ice-cream and liqueurs. Pistachio trees are also seen in the gardens of the local people's homes.

Olive trees in Aigina produce olive oil mainly for personal home - the island imports nearly everything, with production concentrated in the pistachio industry

Aigina is mountainous but it is also very green, with pine forests, olive groves and pistachio orchards.

Approaching Aigina by ferry boat felt like I was visiting a miniature version of Crete. In the north, the island is very green and evenly inhabited. The port area constitutes the main town, which resembles the average small Greek coastal town - a seaport with a marina, faced by cafes and restaurants, and surrounded by narrow alleys full of small shops. The south is mainly mountainous, barren and not inhabited. The main problem Aigina faces is the lack of water sources on the island - all water is transported to the island from the mainland. Without enough water, you cannot sustain life, so most of Aigina's food needs will come from the mainland too. Being the closest island to Athens, the high number of annual visitors adds to the burden. It was only last month that the much discussed pipeline on the seabed for water supply from Athens to Aigina was finally agreed upon, which will be operating in three years' time. So the water supply problem may soon be resolved.

Walking from the Aphaia temple to the beach at Ayia Marina on the northeast, you pass through a road that is lined with tavernas, rooms for rent, and other tourist facilities. They are nearly all closed and from the appearance of the buildings, it is likely that they have not operated for a long time, a sure sign of how the various Greek crises of the last few years have affected Aigina's business sector. It has now become too expensive for the average Athenian to take a short carefree jaunt to the island on a regular basis. Most foreign tourists visit for the day, and they may be on the island for a very short period if they are doing the highly popular one-day cruise (where they also visit other islands near Aigina, notably Poros and Hydra). Aigina is small enough to drive through it in the space of one whole day - cars can be taken on the ferry boats to facilitate visitors to this end. During the summer, ferry boats arrive from and leave for Athens on a regular basis throughout the day, so you can get there very early and leave quite late just before evening sets in.. If it weren't for the uncomfortably hot early July weather we expoerienced this year, we might have stayed longer ourselves. We caught a late afternoon boat back to Athens, and arrived home before evening set in.

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Pistachio is harvested in summer when the shell splits open. The nut is then used in its raw state or roasted with lemon juice (and salt, optionally), to preserve it in a chemical-free way. In Greece, pistachio is commonly eaten as a nut, nearly always served in its shell, as a side dish to some fiery alcohol. having to open the shells and remove them from their casing is a way to lengthen the time it takes to eat the pistachio! In cooking, pistachio is used in pastry sweets, giving baklava-style desserts their characteristic green colour. It is often sprinkled as a crumbed topping on cakes and biscuits. Pistachios are also added to honey, chocolate and, notably in the Mediterranean, Turkish delight. Pistachios keep well for a long time in an airtight container. Apart from shelling and crushing, they do not require much more processing to make them ready for consumption.

Pistachio cream on melba toast, pistachio crackers and pistachio nuts

Pistachios keep well for a long time in an airtight container. Apart from shelling and crushing, they do not require much more processing to make them ready for consumption. Pistachio paste, a gluten-free vegan condiment, is easy to make at home with a food processor. It makes a tasty topping on bread and can be used as a creamy filling or topping in cakes and biscuits. Just whizz a cup (or two) of shelled pistachio nuts with a teaspoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of butter, and a teaspoon of honey. Keep whizzing until you get the desired consistency - the more you whizz, the creamier it becomes. For a more interesting texture, add some finely crushed pistachio to the cream, for a mixed consistency. Place the spread in a jar and keep it in the fridge; it will keep for more than a month - if it doesn't get eaten sooner!

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

ERASMUS work placements at MAICh

It's really heartening to hear such good words about the work and study experiences offered at my workplace. The ERASMUS students of MAICh discuss their reasons for applying to study here. 

The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) takes part in the ERASMUS programmes, hosting 20 foreign students at the Institute during this summer. MAICh is a constituent member of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), and one of four Mediterranean Agronomic Institutes (MAIs), located in: Bari, Italy; Montpellier, France; Zaragoza, Spain; and Chania, Greece, which was the last one to be established, in 1985. CIHEAM was founded after a joint initiative of the OECD and the Council of Europe on 21 May 1962 and now comprises thirteen member countries: France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Albania, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Each MAI concentrates in depth on the development of its own specific research activities which include Post-Graduate Education, Advanced Research and Cooperation.

Over the years, MAICh has created an excellent environment training ambitious academics and professionals through the combination of education and research. Yearly, the average number of visiting faculty participating in the M.Sc programmes at MAICh is about 120, coming from 13 different countries, and the average number of candidates participating in the M.Sc Programmes is about 150 from 18 different countries. Over the years, in total, more than 1400 students have been awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma or Master of MAICh (60 ECTS), and nearly 1000 students have obtained a Master of Science (120 ECTS). Students from 50 countries have taken post-graduate courses at the Institute since its inception. In the academic year 2014 – 2015 alone, 113 candidates from 20 different countries attended courses at MAICh in the 5 departments:

-      Business Economics and Management
-      Geo-information in Environmental Management
-      Food Quality and Chemistry of Natural Products
-      Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology
-      Sustainable Agriculture

Numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals have been produced out of Master’s theses as well as presentations, proceedings and posters published by international and other conferences, while the scientific personnel of MAICh have also published books, book chapters and special journal issues. Over the years, MAICh has produced 300 PhD holders as students continue their advanced studies after graduating from MAICh. MAICh graduates can be found around the world holding top academic positions and management roles in both the public and private sector. MAICh demonstrates very strong links with first-class universities, the global academic community and many renowned institutes.

MAICh also hosts an International ISO-certified Conference Center on its campus, which conforms to the standards demanded by the international scientific community, using state-of-the art technology to deliver the highest levels of service. Founded in 1998, it counts about 700 conferences and meetings held so far in its operation, with over 60,000 participants in total over the years.

The ERASMUS programme, funded through European funding, offers university students the possibility to study or do an internship abroad in another country for a period of at least 2 months and a maximum of 12 months. After completing their first year of studies, students can benefit from an ERASMUS study or work placement programme, without an age limitation. It now offers the possibility to even go beyond the European borders as well. ERASMUS gives students a chance to live abroad and experience a foreign culture, meet new people and learn a foreign language, in this way enriching the period of their studies under foreign influence, which may give them better chances while looking for a job in the future.

Students have opportunities to share ideas with other students from all around the world. Each student receives a grant which covers part of the costs of their stay abroad, which differ according to the living standards of the sending and host countries. The grant can often be complemented by regional or national grants. One of the basic rights each exchange student has is the full recognition of courses passed successfully abroad by the home university.

This summer’s intake of ERASMUS students at MAICh come from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Finland, Vietnam, Turkey and Bulgaria. The students were asked about what motivated them to ask for an ERASMUS placement at MAICh, their experiences during their placement and whether they would recommend MAICh to potential ERASMUS exchange students.

Ralitsa Cholakova - Bulgaria worked at MAICh's Conference Centre. "When I initially started looking for an internship, I came across MAICh and I was immediately interested. Not only was there an offer for a work placement that I wanted, but it was also relevant to my studies: International Hospitality Management and Tourism. Working for the conference center up until now has given me a lot of valuable experience and I cannot be more than satisfied. The most valuable experience was working with people, which I had not experienced before coming to MAICh. I was mostly working at reception greeting guests, escorting them to their rooms and providing information about the place and area. Thanks to MAICh I now had the chance to experience how it is like working with guests, and the best part of all was the compliments that I've received. This was my first time having an internship abroad. I would definitely recommend MAICh because everyone was extremely nice and polite, which made the working environment more relaxed. I felt very accepted in the workplace and I cannot be more thankful to everyone who treated me well during my stay. The hospitality that I experienced in Crete is incredible.

Guillaume Bragagnolo - France worked in the Tourism Observatory of the Department of Business Economics and Management. "I needed to find an internship abroad in order to validate my international mobility. I couldn't afford to go outside Europe. But I also wanted to find a place where I could enjoy my summer, and Crete seemed the perfect choice. Older students from my school recommended MAICh and the internship, so I was glad to be accepted here. My most valuable experience so far are the encounters I have made here. I met a lot of interesting and passionate persons from all around the globe and I feel very gifted to experience this and lucky to have had the chance to work at MAICh. I also fell in love with the Cretan lifestyle; arriving in a foreign country that lacks western landmarks made me grow up a lot. Having the opportunity to enhance my English has also been of great benefit to me. I made quick progress week by week.  I had the opportunity to visit the island and I will go home with a lot of unforgettable memories that I can't wait to share with my friends and family. I will come again for sure; so I would definitely recommend the institute to potential candidates in my university, because of the amazing experience I had here.

Anniina Tuomela - Finland worked in the Botanic Garden of MAICh. "I wanted an internship that has something to do with environmental conservation and also I like gardening so MAICh seemed to be a good choice. Basically I wanted to get some work experience abroad. The experience of living in a dormitory was made easily accessible by MAICh. I was slightly worried about the climate, because I come from Finland, and I knew it would be hard to get used to the heat, but the opportunity was so exciting that I decided to go for it. The most valuable thing for me is that I managed to settle here comfortably. The environment, climate, culture and lifestyle are so different here compared to Finalnd, that at first I felt really homesick. It was a cultural shock for me in the first few weeks. But I got used to the climate and environment and I have made many great friends. Now I feel much more at home than I thought would even be possible. Also I have learnt to get along with people from different backgrounds. My time at MAICh has been a great experience: the people here arefriendly, the atmosphere chilled and work rather easy. I get to learn many new things about my work interests, but I don't feel pressed by too much work. One thing I am very thankful for is the short excursions that we have been taken on. I loved visiting the Samaria Gorge and Kedrodasos. I'm really grateful that they are arranged and that they are free for us to take part in."

Huong Thu Nguyen - Viet Nam also worked in the Botanic Garden. "The reasons for my choice to come to MAICh was for the practical training experience because it is compulsory in my studies. I decided to search for an internship through ERASMUS. I am studying Environmental Engineering for which there are very few internships; this is how I came across MAICh. I am studying at present in Finland. Since I haven’t been to any Mediterranean or South European countries, I was eager to come here, especially since I had heard so much about Greece's beauty.  The lower cost of living in comparison with other western countries was also another factor that convinced me to come here. The most valuable experience that I have had at MAICh is getting a taste of Greek hospitality, and the incredible friendliness and helpfulness from the people here. Whenever I seemed troubled or asked for help, people would unhesitatingly help me to the end. All my problems were solved through the kindness of all the people I interacted with. Even people who did not speak English (while I did not speak Greek!) showed incredible patience with all my requests. My supervisor here also left a good impression on me. She let me work on my assigned projects in the MAICh garden at my own pace. For this reason, I would highly recommend a placement at MAICh. MAICh offers all students a chance to have an amazing experience with open arms.  I also believe that all the trips that MAICh organized for the students offer a genuine chance to get to know the beautiful scenery and nature of Crete, and I appreciate that a lot. I really enjoyed crossing the Samaria Gorge with the other students."

It seems that there are many positive reasons for making Crete a high-demand destination for students and tourists. It's the perfect place for a warm sunny holiday all year round; it's also an economical destination that will suit most people's budget constraints. This makes MAICh in particular a very attractive option for young people wishing to gain valuable life experiences. MAICh combines work and study opportunities in a very conducive environment, close to nature, which differs from western norms. Above all, it is the Greek hospitality that makes MAICh and Hania feel like a second home to young people living far away from their own family.

MAICh offers two-year graduate progranmmes, working towards the MSc degree.
Admission details can be found here: http://www.maich.gr/admissions/conditions_for_admission

Η ΚΡΗΤΗ ΠΟΛΟΣ ΕΛΞΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΑΙΩΝ ΦΟΙΤΗΤΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΝΕΩΝ ΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΟΝΩΝ – Η ΠΡΩΤΟΠΟΡΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΜΑΙΧ

Είναι πραγματικά ενθαρρυντικό να ακούμε τόσο καλά λόγια για το έργο του ΜΑΙΧ από τις εμπειρίες των φοιτητών που σπουδάζουν εκεί. Φοιτητές στο πρόγραμμα ΕΥΡΩΠΑΙΚΟ ERASMUS του ΜΑΙΧ συζητούν το τι τους ώθησε να επιλέξουν να σπουδάσουν εδώ. 

Το Μεσογειακό Αγρονομικό Ινστιτούτο Χανίων (ΜΑΙΧ) συμμετέχει στα προγράμματα ERASMUS, και φιλοξενεί ξένους φοιτητές στο Ινστιτούτο κατά τη διάρκεια αυτού του καλοκαιριού. Η Ελλάδα είναι ένα ιδρυτικό μέλος του Διεθνούς Κέντρου Ανώτατων Μεσογειακών Γεωπονικών Σπουδών (CIHEAM), και φιλοξενεί ένα από τα τέσσερα Μεσογειακά Αγρονομικά Ινστιτούτα (MΑΙs), τα οποία βρίσκονται στο Μπάρι-Ιταλία, Μονπελιέ-Γαλλία, Σαραγόσα-Ισπανία, και τα Χανιά-Ελλάδα, το οποίο ήταν το τελευταίο ΜΑΙ που ξεκίνησε τη λειτουργία του το 1985. Το CIHEAM ιδρύθηκε μετά από κοινή πρωτοβουλία του ΟΟΣΑ και του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης στις 21 Μαΐου 1962 και πλέον περιλαμβάνει δεκατρείς χώρες: Γαλλία, Πορτογαλία, Ισπανία, Ιταλία, Ελλάδα, Αλβανία, Τουρκία, Λίβανο, Αίγυπτο, Μάλτα, Τυνησία, Αλγερία, και Μαρόκο. Κάθε ΜΑΙ επικεντρώνεται στην ανάπτυξη της δικής του ειδικής ερευνητικής δραστηριότητας που περιλαμβάνει μεταπτυχιακή εκπαίδευση, προηγμένη έρευνα και συνεργασία.
  
Φοιτητές του ευρωπαϊκού προγράμματος ERASMUS, σε έρευνα του Παρατηρητήριου Τουρισμού του ΜΑΙΧ, στον αρχαιολογικό χώρο στα Άπτερα
ERASMUS students surveying tourists at the archaeological site of Aptera, for CIHEAM MAI CHANIA’s Tourism Observatory 


Με το πέρασμα των ετών, το ΜΑΙΧ έχει δημιουργήσει ένα εξαιρετικό διεθνές εκπαιδευτικό περιβάλλον για φιλόδοξους ακαδημαϊκούς και επαγγελματίες μέσα από το συνδυασμό της εκπαίδευσης και της έρευνας. Σε ετήσια βάση, ο μέσος αριθμός των καθηγητών-επισκεπτών που συμμετέχουν στα προγράμματα M.Sc στο ΜΑΙΧ είναι περίπου 120, και προέρχονται από 13 διαφορετικές χώρες, ενώ ο μέσος αριθμός των υποψηφίων φοιτητών που συμμετέχουν στα προγράμματα M.Sc είναι περίπου 150 από 18 διαφορετικές χώρες. Μέχρι αυτή τη στιγμή, έχουν απονεμηθεί περισσότερα από 1400  μεταπτυχιακά διπλώματα ή <aster  of MAICh (60 ECTS), και σχεδόν 1.000 φοιτητές έχουν αποκτήσει Μaster of Science (120 ECTS). Φοιτητές από 50 χώρες έχουν λάβει μεταπτυχιακή εκπαίδευση στο Ινστιτούτο από την ίδρυσή του. Μόνο κατά το ακαδημαϊκό έτος 2015-2016, υπήρξαν 150 υποψήφιοι από 20 διαφορετικές χώρες που συμμετείχαν στα προγράμματα του ΜΑΙΧ στα 5 τμήματα που διαθέτει:

- Οικονομία-Διοίκηση Επιχειρήσεων-Χρηματοοικονομικά
- Γεω-πληροφορική στη Διαχείριση Περιβάλλοντος
- Ποιότητα Τροφίμων και Χημεία Φυσικών Προϊόντων
- Γεωργική Γενετική και Βιοτεχνολογία
- Αειφόρο Γεωργία

Πολλά άρθρα που έχουν προκύψει από μεταπτυχιακές εργασίες έχουν δημοσιευθεί σε έγκριτα επιστημονικά περιοδικά (με σύστημα κριτών), καθώς επίσης έχουν γίνει παρουσιάσεις και έχουν δημοσιευθεί σε πρακτικά διεθνών και εθνικών συνεδρίων, ενώ το επιστημονικό προσωπικό του ΜΑΙΧ έχει δημοσιεύσει βιβλία, κεφάλαια βιβλίων και ειδικά τεύχη σε επιστημονικά περιοδικά. Στο πέρασμα των ετών, έχουν προκύψει 300 διδακτορικά (Ph.D.) από φοιτητές που συνεχίζουν τις σπουδές τους μετά την αποφοίτησή τους από το ΜΑΙΧ όλοι μέχρι σήμερα σαν υπότροφοι. Οι απόφοιτοι του ΜΑΙΧ βρίσκονται σε όλο τον κόσμο, και κατέχουν κορυφαίες ακαδημαϊκές θέσεις και διοικητικούς ρόλους τόσο στο δημόσιο όσο και στον ιδιωτικό τομέα. Το ΜΑΙΧ διατηρεί πολύ ισχυρούς δεσμούς με πανεπιστήμια πρώτης κατηγορίας, την παγκόσμια ακαδημαϊκή κοινότητα και πολλά φημισμένα ιδρύματα.

Το ΜΑΙΧ φιλοξενεί επίσης ένα διεθνές πιστοποιημένο με ISO Συνεδριακό Κέντρο μοντέρνας τεχνολογίας στην πανεπιστημιούπολη του, το οποίο είναι σύμφωνο με τις προδιαγραφές που απαιτούνται από τη διεθνή επιστημονική κοινότητα, ώστε να παρέχει το υψηλότερο επίπεδο  υπηρεσιών . Το Συνεδριακό Κέντρο ιδρύθηκε το 1998, και μέχρι στιγμής έχει φιλοξενήσει στους χώρους του περίπου 700 συνέδρια και συναντήσεις, με πάνω από 60.000 συμμετέχοντες σε όλα αυτά τα χρόνια.
  
Φοιτητές ERASMUS συμμετέχουν σε σεμινάρια στο Συνεδριακό Κέντρο του ΜΑΙΧ
ERASMUS+ students at the Conference Centre of CIHEAM MAI Chania

Το πρόγραμμα ERASMUS, που χρηματοδοτείται μέσω ευρωπαϊκών πόρων, προσφέρει στους φοιτητές τη δυνατότητα να σπουδάσουν ή να κάνουν πρακτική άσκηση στο εξωτερικό  για χρονικό διάστημα τουλάχιστον 2 μηνών με μέγιστη διάρκεια 12 μηνών. Μετά την ολοκλήρωση του πρώτου έτους των σπουδών τους, οι φοιτητές μπορούν να επωφεληθούν από ένα πρόγραμμα σπουδών ή πρόγραμμα εργασίας ERASMUS, χωρίς περιορισμό ηλικίας. Το ERASMUS προσφέρει και τη δυνατότητα κινητικότητας και πέρα από τα ευρωπαϊκά σύνορα, δίνοντας στους φοιτητές που συμμετέχουν την ευκαιρία να ζήσουν στο εξωτερικό, να γνωρίσουν καινούργιους ανθρώπους και να μάθουν μια ξένη γλώσσα. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο εμπλουτίζουν τις σπουδές τους υπό ξένη επιρροή, η οποία μπορεί να τους δώσει καλύτερες πιθανότητες στην μελλοντική εύρεση εργασίας.

Οι φοιτητές έχουν την ευκαιρία να μοιραστούν ιδέες με άλλους φοιτητές από όλο τον κόσμο. Λαμβάνουν μια επιχορήγηση που καλύπτει μέρος των εξόδων διαμονής τους στο εξωτερικό, η οποία διαφέρει ανάλογα με το βιοτικό επίπεδο των χώρων αποστολής και υποδοχής. Η επιχορήγηση μπορεί συχνά να συμπληρωθεί από περιφερειακές ή εθνικές επιδοτήσεις. Ένα από τα βασικά δικαιώματα που έχει κάθε φοιτητής ανταλλαγής είναι η πλήρης αναγνώριση των μαθημάτων που συμπλήρωσε με επιτυχία στο εξωτερικό από το πανεπιστήμιο στο οποίο φοιτά.

 Φοιτητές του ευρωπαϊκού προγράμματος ERASMUS κατά την διάρκεια της πρακτικής τους στο Βοτανικό Κήπο του ΜΑΙΧ
ERASMUS students experiencing hands-on training in the Botanical Garden of CIHEAM MAI Chania


Οι φοιτητές ERASMUS στο ΜΑΙΧ το φετινό καλοκαίρι προέρχονται από Ιταλία, Ισπανία, Γαλλία, Πορτογαλία, Κύπρο, Φινλανδία, Ρουμανία, Τουρκία και Βουλγαρία. Ρωτήθηκαν σχετικά με το τι τους παρακίνησε να ζητήσουν να εργαστούν μέσω ERASMUS  στο ΜΑΙΧ, τις εμπειρίες τους κατά τη διάρκεια της διαμονής τους, και αν θα συνιστούσαν το ΜΑΙΧ σε πιθανές ανταλλαγές φοιτητών ERASMUS.

Η Ralitsa Cholakova από τη Βουλγαρία εργάστηκε στο Συνεδριακό Κέντρο του ΜΑΙΧ. «Όταν άρχισα να ψάχνω για μια θέση πρακτικής, βρήκα το ΜΑΙΧ και αμέσως ενδιαφέρθηκα. Όχι μόνο υπήρχε μια προσφορά για μια θέση εργασίας που ήθελα, αλλά ήταν επίσης σχετική με τις σπουδές μου: Διεθνή Διοίκηση Φιλοξενίας και Τουρισμού. Η εργασία μου στο συνεδριακό κέντρο μέχρι τώρα μου έχει δώσει πολλές πολύτιμες εμπειρίες και είμαι πάρα πολύ ικανοποιημένη. Η πιο πολύτιμη εμπειρία είναι να δουλεύεις με πολλούς ανθρώπους, που δεν είχα βιώσει πριν έρθω στο ΜΑΙΧ. Επί το πλείστον εργάστηκα στην υποδοχή επισκεπτών, τους συνόδευα στα δωμάτιά τους και έδινα πληροφορίες σχετικά για τον τόπο και την περιοχή. Χάρη στο ΜΑΙΧ έχω την ευκαιρία να βιώσω αυτή την εμπειρία, και το καλύτερο από όλα ήταν τα συγχαρητήρια που έχω λάβει. Θα σύστηνα σίγουρα το ΜΑΙΧ σε άλλους φοιτητές, διότι όλα ήταν πραγματικά υπέροχα και οι άνθρωποι ευγενικοί, γεγονός που έκανε το εργασιακό περιβάλλον πιο ευχάριστο. Ένιωσα πολύ αποδεκτή στον εργασιακό χώρο και δεν μπορώ να είμαι πιο ευγνώμων σε όλους όσους μου φέρθηκαν καλά κατά τη διάρκεια της διαμονής μου. Η φιλοξενία που έζησα στην Κρήτη είναι απίστευτη».


Φοιτητές του ευρωπαϊκού προγράμματος ERASMUS, στο Εκθεσιακό Κέντρο του ΜΑΙΧ
ERASMUS+ students at the Exhibition Centre of CIHEAM MAI Chania

Ο Guillaume Bragagnolo από τη Γαλλία απασχολείται στο Παρατηρητήριο Τουρισμού του Τμήματος Διοίκησης Επιχειρήσεων. «Έπρεπε να βρω ένα Ινστιτούτο στο εξωτερικό, προκειμένου να επικυρώσω τη διεθνή κινητικότητά μου. Δεν θα μπορούσα να αντέξω οικονομικά αν έβγαινα από την Ευρώπη. Αλλά ήθελα επίσης να βρω ένα μέρος όπου θα μπορούσα να απολαύσω τις καλοκαιρινές μου διακοπές, και η Κρήτη έμοιαζε σαν τέλεια επιλογή. Άλλοι φοιτητές από τη σχολή μου μου συνέστησαν το ΜΑΙΧ και έτσι ήμουν ευτυχής που έγινα αποδεκτός εδώ. Η πιο πολύτιμη εμπειρία μου μέχρι στιγμής είναι οι γνωριμίες που έχω κάνει εδώ. Γνώρισα πολλά ενδιαφέροντα και παθιασμένα άτομα από όλο τον κόσμο και νιώθω πολύ προικισμένος και τυχερός να βιώσω αυτό, μέσα από την ευκαιρία να εργαστώ στο ΜΑΙΧ. Επίσης ερωτεύτηκα τον Κρητικό τρόπο ζωής. Μου έκανε καλό να έρθω σε μια ξένη χώρα που δεν διαθέτει δυτικά ορόσημα - ωρίμασα σαν άνθρωπος. Είχα την ευκαιρία να ενισχύσω τις γνώσεις μου στα αγγλικά, και ήταν μεγάλο όφελος για μένα, αφού έκανα γρήγορη πρόοδο. Είχα επίσης την ευκαιρία να επισκεφτώ το νησί και θα γυρίσω σπίτι μου με πολλές αξέχαστες αναμνήσεις που θα μοιραστώ με τους φίλους και την οικογένειά μου. Θα έρθω και πάλι εδώ σίγουρα, και βεβαία θα ήθελα να συστήσω το ΜΑΙΧ σε δυνητικούς υποψηφίους στο πανεπιστήμιό μου, λόγω της καταπληκτικής εμπειρίας που έζησα εδώ.»

Η Huong Nguyen σπουδάζει στην Φινλανδία. Εργάστηκε στο Βοτανικό Κήπο του ΜΑΙΧ. "Οι λόγοι για την επιλογή μου να έρθω στο ΜΑΙΧ ήταν για την πρακτική εκπαιδευτική εμπειρία, διότι είναι υποχρεωτική στις σπουδές μου. Αποφάσισα να ψάξω για ένα Ινστιτούτο μέσω του ERASMUS. Σπουδάζω Μηχανικός Περιβάλλοντος, και δεν υπάρχουν πολλά προγράμματα πρακτικής εξάσκησης σε αυτό το τομέα. Έτσι ήμουν τυχερή που βρήκα κάτι στο ΜΑΙΧ. Δεδομένου ότι δεν έχω επισκεφτεί άλλες χώρες της Μεσογείου ή της Νότιας Ευρώπης, ήμουν πρόθυμη να έρθω εδώ, ειδικά αφού είχα ακούσει τόσα πολλά καλά λόγια για την ομορφιά της Ελλάδας. Το χαμηλότερο κόστος διαβίωσης σε σύγκριση με άλλες δυτικές χώρες ήταν επίσης ένας άλλος παράγοντας που με έπεισε να έρθω εδώ. Η πιο πολύτιμη εμπειρία που είχα στο ΜΑΙΧ είναι να γευτώ την ελληνική φιλοξενία, και την απίστευτη φιλικότητα και εξυπηρετικότητα των ανθρώπων εδώ. Κάθε φορά που ήμουν προβληματισμένη ή ζητούσα βοήθεια, οι άνθρωποι με βοήθησαν χωρίς δισταγμό. Όλα μου τα προβλήματα λύθηκαν με την καλοσύνη των ανθρώπων. Έδειξαν απίστευτη υπομονή με όλα τα αιτήματά μου. Η προϊστάμενη μου εδώ μου άφησε επίσης πολύ καλή εντύπωση. Μου επέτρεψε να εργαστώ στον Βοτανικό Κήπο του ΜΑΙΧ με τον δικό μου ρυθμό. Για το λόγο αυτό, θα ήθελα να συστήσω ανεπιφύλακτα το ΜΑΙΧ για μια θέση εργασίας μέσω του ERASMUS. Το ΜΑΙΧ προσφέρει σε όλους τους φοιτητές την ευκαιρία να έχουν μια καταπληκτική εμπειρία με ανοιχτές αγκάλες. Πιστεύω, επίσης, ότι όλες οι επισκέψεις που οργανώνονται από το ΜΑΙΧ για τους φοιτητές προσφέρουν μια πραγματική ευκαιρία να γνωρίσουμε το όμορφο τοπίο και τη φύση της Κρήτης, και το εκτιμώ αυτό πάρα πολύ. Το φαράγγι της Σαμαριάς θα μου μείνει αξέχαστο."

Φαίνεται ότι υπάρχουν πολλοί θετικοί λόγοι για να γίνει η Κρήτη ένας προορισμός υψηλής ζήτησης για τους φοιτητές της Ευρώπης. Είναι το ιδανικό μέρος για εξειδικευμένες σπουδές υψηλού επιπέδου αλλά και θερμές ηλιόλουστες διακοπές όλο το χρόνο. Είναι επίσης ένας οικονομικός προορισμός που ταιριάζει στην οικονομική δυνατότητα των περισσότερων ανθρώπων. Το γεγονός αυτό ιδίως καθιστά το ΜΑΙΧ μια πολύ ελκυστική επιλογή για τους νέους που επιθυμούν να αποκτήσουν πολύτιμες εμπειρίες ζωής. Το ΜΑΙΧ συνδυάζει ευκαιρίες πρακτικής και σπουδών σε ένα πολύ ελκυστικό περιβάλλον, κοντά στη φύση, σε ένα τοπίο που διαφέρει από τα δυτικά πρότυπα. Πάνω απ 'όλα, είναι η ελληνική φιλοξενία που κάνει το ΜΑΙΧ και τα Χανιά σαν ένα δεύτερο σπίτι για τους νέους που ζουν μακριά από τη δική τους οικογένεια.

Το ΜΑΙΧ προσφέρει διετές μεταπτυχιακά προγράμματα, για σπουδές που οδηγούν σε Master of Science (M.Sc.), αναγνωρισμένα από όλα τα πανεπιστήμια και το ΔΟΑΤΑΠ. Λεπτομέρειες για αιτήσεις μπορείτε να βρείτε εδώ: http://www.maich.gr/admissions/conditions_for_admission

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Athens 2016: Lost grandeur (Χαμένα μεγαλεία)

Running through the centre of Athens are two imposing avenues that connect the two major Athenian landmarks of Syntagma and Omonoia Squares. Stadiou and Panepistimiou Streets were where, a quarter of a century ago, I would come to go shopping. Stadiou is where, I was told by my boss, the expensive clothes and shoe shops were, if I wanted to buy something finer in life than what our working class neighbourhood of Egaleo could offer. I remember buying my favorite pair of shoes somewhere here - high heeled wooden sandals, with a peep-toe dark brown matt leather upper and cross-over straps with a firm buckle on the covered heel. They lasted for ages. I even remember the price - something in the range of 25,000 (~73€) drachmas, which the owner of the shop told me would drop to 20,000 (~58€) drachma if I didn't issue a receipt, a discount which I am sure I gladly accepted at the time.
 Panepistimou St, at the Vivliothiki (Library) bus stop

Despite the sweltering July heat, since I was in the area of Syntagma Square, I wanted to walk down those glorious roads again, to experience the grandeur that I recalled in my first few years of residence in Greece. I did not really know myself what I would find on Stadiou and Panepistimiou Steets more than two decades later. But it is only now, when I think very hard as I try to force myself to remember what those days were really like for me, that I recall the dirty buses, the rude bus drivers, the anxious faces among the throngs, the lotto ticket touts, the myriads of kiosks within a few metres of each other all selling the same things, and the cries of the hawkers as they tried to entice you into their businesses to consider their wares. I remember living those days in darkness, despite the bright sunlight that the Acropolis always seemed to be drenched in.*

We sat on the wooden benches of the pedestrianized area of Voukourestiou Street, as I pondered which street we should take first. Wendy's burger restaurant was long gone, the landmark replaced by the pricey and soulless Attika Mall. Stadiou is full of contrasts: some buildings still look imposing, and they still house many branded as well unbranded stores, interspersed with a few trendy (and some not so trendy) looking cafes whose staff all wear uniforms now in the colour of the business's logo. It didn't take long to come across the first of the boarded-up buildings on both sides of the street. Walking by the Bank of Greece's behind (its front is on Panepistimiou), we passed by a homeless couple that was still sleeping. Lying on rags, lined with cardboard boxes, their eyes were closed, as one hugged the other. They were lying in front of what seemed to be a boarded-up hotel with the impressive words 'palace' in its name. It is said that just one homeless person is too many, and in this particular location, the image stuck out like a sore thumb.

Pretending that we didn't see them, we stopped to admire the enticing sleek modern display of the IANOS bookshop. On entering, we realised that we would have to choose between high fashion and food for our thoughts. At least we could still afford to eat; we are confident of that. Apart from the many Greek titles, there were also many Greek translations of English books. A linguistics title by David Crystal caught my eye - didn't I read that while I was studying at VUW? But I was completely gobsmacked when I saw what was sitting prominently right next to it with its cover showing, bearing my VUW sociolinguistics professor's name on it. I'd read that one too in its earliest edition! We bought one of the cheaper Arkas volumes and continued on our way.

Patision St (aka 28th October)

Pausing just a little at Plateia Klafthmonos, I imagined who cried (κλαυθμός - klafth-MOS: cry), and who may still be crying here,** before passing through Korai to get to Panepistimiou, which is also called Eleftherios Venizelos Avenue (a spade is not necessarily a spade in Greece). I remember sitting here with a friend, who had driven me all the way from Egaleo to go out for drinks in this very spot. "It's nice here, isn't it?" she kept saying, implying Egaleo's shabbiness, and I always agreed with her, even though at the time I felt uncomfortable among the stemmed-glass candle-lit atmosphere. Athens' regular destruction by 'activists' had left this building intact; not even the omnipresent Greek graffiti was gracing its exterior. A number of tourists were taking photos on the steps of the main University building. I amused myself with the thought that they might have mistaken it for another of Pericles' works, built not in modern times, but in the Golden Age of Athens.

From here, the road descends into the chaos of Omonoia Square, once considered a central meeting place in Athens, with transients and provincials all being lured to it in the past, whether on purpose or by accident, as it was almost impossible not to end up here when coming into the centre of Athens, no matter which part of the country you came from. All roads led newcomers to Omonoia Square:
"They come, all the oppressed and ruined, from the whole of Greece... Indeed, where the monsters grow... they are small places. They first tyrannize and then ostracise those people with erotic variations, in particular. They force them to leave, to go to the large urban centres, and mainly to Athens. And when they arrive in Athens, very quickly they will come by Omonoia Square too, where a certain percentage will stick around."  http://www.organicallycooked.com/2012/02/way-we-were-greek-provincial.html   http://athensville.blogspot.gr/2010/05/1980.html
My own memories of Omonoia Square are bittersweet. I did not want to be reminded of my days of having to bump into the ruined and oppressed as I went about my business. My nostalgia for the streets of my past ended here. Luckily for my children, they will never need to hang around here any longer than it takes to cross the road - they will be able to avoid it altogether.

First photo ever taken in Greece, 1839
Bonus photos:
Our walk took up north of Omonoia Square, up Patision Street, which is officially named 28th-October Street (Greeks never quite Westernised in their street naming style) where we walked past the (barricaded) Polytechneio (the one that started the fall of the junta in 1973), and visited the National Archaeological Museum. Despite its old-fashioned layout, the NAM contains some of the most fascinating collections of the oldest European civilisation. You won't be disappointed visiting this building. And while you're there, check out the wonderful ground floor cafe in the delightful museum gardens. 

* no wonder I left Athens and moved to Crete. For as long as I lived in Athens, I never felt like an Athenian.
** google it: (click here)

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Athens 2016: Syntagma Square (Σύνταγμα)

On first glance, Syntagma Square may look like an ordinary busy square that's a good place to get photographed in the centre of Athens, just as any large imposing square is in any other European capital city. Sometimes, it feels like the heart of Athens; but there are also times when can feel like Athens' arse. Whatever the case, a visit to Syntagma Square is a must, every time I go to Athens, just to get a feel for the city at that moment when I was visiting.

If you get to Syntagma Square by metro, you may not realise that you are about to exit utopia. The metro (still) looks like it was built last month and opened last week. That's Greece, land of contrast, country of extremes. Walk up the stairs to the viewing gallery where you might catch an exhibition or trade fair. Go and see the ancient graves and water pipes that were sliced through when the metro station was being built. Take in a bird's eye view of the people on the platform as they are going in and out of the trains. There's something here that will please everyone.

Take the escalator to get to the square itself above ground level, where you will see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, standing next to the mighty tall body-fantastic Evzones dressed up in skirts and stockings. If you thought your wife spent too long getting dressed, think about these guys: they need at least half an hour just to get the uniform on, never mind make-up, and they can't even put it on all by themselves.

Where is that melodic music coming from? It's as if it was being played to welcome you. And those delicious aromas? Surely not from the McDonalds across the road. Walk down to the square to find out, but don't step on the grass. That's the ear-tagged stray dogs' turf. Their lives have been greatly enriched - not terminated - by the kindness of strangers. They are just hanging around, like the man (or two) who you will see resting on one of the benches. Don't spend too long staring at him - it's impolite. You  know he's homeless, but you don't know how or why he ended up like this.


Instead, try to soak up the atmosphere of what is happening in the square. If you are lucky, you will see a protest march passing through the square. What do those placards say? Perhaps it's all Greek to you. What's that stuff being sold at the various stalls? Don't confuse it with the paper paraphernalia of the various politicky grass roots movements which don't actually sell you any stuff - instead, they sell you ideas. Who are all these people on the square? Can you tell the tourists from the locals? And where are those migrants that everyone talks about in the news, whenever Greece is mentioned? Perhaps you can't tell them apart from the rest. Maybe they too are sunning themselves among the crowds; like you, they are soaking up the atmosphere, as they wait for the day they will bid farewell to Greece who gave them their first start of a new life in Europe.

Bonus photo:
Travelling on public transportation in Athens is very cheap - just €9 for five days on buses, trolleys, trams and metro trains, or €1.40 per single-ride ticket with a 90-minute duration. You only pay if you have a conscience - it is very very rare to have your ticket checked by an inspector, since no one wants the job, since an anarchist group began targeting ticket inspectors' home addresses.



©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.