Student Profile: Effie Apostolaki
By Brittany Bandinelli
Chances are if you have partaken in any Spanish classes at Daemen in the past four years, you know who Effie Apostolaki is. One can usually find her scurrying about the library, gathering the final pieces needed for her senior thesis. With graduation in her sights, Effie is now spending her final days here at school.
On December 5, 1988, Evanthia Apostolaki was born in Patra, Akhaia, Greece. She was raised by her parents Theodoros and Evgenia. Evanthia, which Effie says is the Greek word for wisdom, is the first name of her grandmother on her father’s side. She explained that in Greece, it is traditional for the first-born child to be named after that child’s grandmother or grandfather on the paternal side. The nickname “Effie” came about when her Godmother wanted to shorten the name. Effie also has a younger sister named Melina and a younger brother named Konstantinos. At the age of 12, Effie and her family emigrated from Greece to America.
One of the most interesting facts about Effie is that she is fluent in two languages other than English, Greek and Spanish. She explains that the reason she chose Spanish as her major was because growing up in a bilingual household in America gave her an appreciation and respect for other languages and cultures that were not necessarily native to her. Her favorite class at Daemen, of course, is Spanish. Effie said, “I like learning about different concepts of culture through Spanish. It’s more useful to learn a culture through its native language than learning it through English.” However, her least favorite class was mathematics, simply stating that “I just don’t find it that interesting.”
Being such a well-rounded individual, Effie also participates in extracurricular activities and hobbies that some may find surprising. She jokingly commented, “Well, when I have time, which is never, I like kick-boxing, running, cooking, and salsa dancing.” Along with physical activity, she also enjoys reading, naming The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as her favorite series and then immediately began laughing and asked “is that too high school?”
Continuing with the Greek love-fest, Effie says that Greek food and The Royal Restaurant in Tonawanda are her favorite places for some grub. She also said that My Big Fat Greek Wedding is her favorite movie. For all those who have seen the movie, one might remember the outside of the Portokalos house, ornately decorated using Greek architecture. This house actually exists in Toronto, Canada, and belongs to Effie’s aunt! Filmmakers shot various scenes at the house, pictured below:
Throughout her college studies, Effie has participated in various experiences studying abroad. She has spent time during every summer break while at Daemen studying abroad. Along with these experiences, she has also spent time doing her work study at the Global Programs Office, Academic Support Services, and Student Affairs. Also, she's a coach in Academic Support Services for Spanish.
During the summer of 2008, Effie took two months and traveled to Argentina for the first time. “Argentina was my first experience. However being in an overpopulated city actually made it harder to immerse myself and learn the language," she said. "So that plan kind of failed.”
In her next experience, Costa Rica, Effie describes the experience as “A LOT better” and explained that she was able to put herself in environments outside the classroom and further her Spanish-speaking abilities. Costa Rica was more invigorating and fun, she said. “I took cooking and dance classes while I was there, completely in Spanish.”
“A Cathedral in Mexico City” Photograph by Effie Apostolaki
When asked what her favorite Spanish-speaking country was, her immediate response, without any sense of doubt, was Mexico. She then commented, “Being there, I feel that I was able to apply all of my skills. I had the opportunity to make Spanish-speaking friends. Also in Mexico I was able to develop my abilities inside and outside the classroom entirely in Spanish.”
Effie is currently in her last semester at Daemen College. However, she'll be finishing up her college career by attending the Washington Internship Institute in the fall. While living in Washington D.C., she'll participate in the Embassy Scholars Program, where she hopes to apply her foreign language abilities at a Spanish-speaking embassy. When asked what she most looks forward to about her experience in Washington D.C., Effie said it is “the experience and the adventures that it will bring.”
With enough traveling and exposure to last some people a lifetime, Effie has a resume most college students would drool over. She attributes her success as a Spanish major to the many study abroad experiences she has participated in and concluded, “After my experience, I felt like I had grown even more as a person. I would recommend that all college undergrads participate in a study abroad experience, because it can really change your perspective in life.”