Making Sense of Stress & Uni Life


Eleonora Levis is currently in her 2nd year of university at UCL in London. I had the privilege of witnessing Eleonora’s growth as she flourished from a Year 10 GCSE History student into a driven, balanced, wise, and grounded TOK student in IB2. What I particularly love about Eleonora, is how she says it as it is. No sugar coating. She’s all about being real. And we need more real in the world right now.

It was an honour to have Eleonora visit me at my humble little home studio to film this special interview, where she comments not only on her experience of how she coped with the stress of the IB, but also on what she’s learned about the university application process, looking back on it all, on year later, as a university student. Enjoy!


Hi, I’m Eleni Vardaki. I first met Eleonora Levis in 2012 when I was her GCSE History teacher, and then went on to teacher her TOK when she move on to the IB Diploma.

As any IB Diploma graduate knows all too well, the TOK Presentation and Essay are a challenging experience – it’s hardly a surprise that ambitious IB students around the world find the assessments so stressful, when you look at the level of what is expected to achieve the top grades.

Yet it was precisely at this time that Eleonora stood out to me as one of the IB2 students who had found a way to manage the stress in a way that worked for her. And when she reached out to me to connect on LinkedIn one year later, I was deeply curious to find out more about what she’d done to reach this new level of ‘zen’ amidst the storm of deadlines and study pressure.

As a former IB graduate myself, and an experience IB Diploma teacher, I’m always on the look out for successful IB graduates with quality and depth of character to interview for my show, Let’s Talk About the IB. Partly because I believe there is a gap in communication between soon-to-be and current IB Diploma graduates’ PERCEPTIONS of university life, and the reality of the first year at uni. And hearing recent graduates talking thoughtfully about their personal experiences, can help bridge that gap.

And it is my hope that the real-life examples that Eleonora shares half-way through this interview will help bring perspective to future generations of IB Diploma students who’re stressing about university applications, or who’re learning how to process the hurt of receiving rejections from universities that they were hoping they’d get an offer for, or get into.

Please share this with IB students you know who’d Eleonora’s insights useful; I hope it helps.

Take care,

xx Eleni Vardaki

IB Graduate | IB Teacher | Youth Mentor

Inspiring IBDP Alumni Talks About Time Management


Anna Maria Makariou Pithi is currently in her 3rd year of university at the American College of Athens (Dheere), which is the oldest American-credited College in Europe. She was a well-rounded IB Diploma graduate with an active, balanced lifestyle and a passion and appreciation for creative/expressive extra-curricular activities, and continues to live a balanced lifestyle where she makes time for life outside of uni deadlines and obligations, as seen in her love for Latin dancing and with how she appreciates family and friends.


Hi, I’m Eleni Vardaki. I first got to know Anna Maria as a dancer, when Anna Maria helped me learn how to dance the ‘Xasaposerviko’ as we prepared for a school show where IB Diploma teachers like myself volunteered to danced with IB Diploma students. That was in 2014.

I then went on to teach Anna Maria in her final year of high school, following a class swap. And that’s when I got the opportunity to witnessed first-hand how impressive Anna Maria’s time management skills were.

Anna Maria clearly stood out to me, as she was one of the few students who not only managed to stay on top of the heavy workload in order to get all of her work done on time (in spite of the relentless pace and pressure), but she always did so with a cheerful attitude, and a smile.

This is why, 3 years on, I really wanted to invite Anna Maria to talk on my show.

And I hope you are as delighted as I am to have had this  opportunity to dive into her mind and how she thinks.

Personally speaking, I certainly learnt a lot from her after doing this interview that I’m now already starting to apply to my own life and practice, and I hope you find it helps you, too.

Making Sense of the Design Industry


Milly Rose Gunn & Myrto Katrinaki are former IB Diploma students who’re here to talk about their university and work experience insights for people who want to work in creative businesses – particularly ones in fashion and games design.

Other than the fact that they are, as you can see yourself from their interview, fundamentally collaborative people (and thus a joy to work with), these ladies are also unique individuals who understand the importance of professional relationships, speaking up and putting yourself out there for 21st century business.

And I am SO excited to share this video of their talk with you, because there are so many IB Diploma students out want to go into the creative businesses industries, like fashion, or games design…but are feeling stuck. They don’t know where to start. They love producing art, doing drama, etc…but they don’t know how they can make a living from their passion, and how this relates to the modern-day world of creative business and work opportunities.

Myrto and Milly cover a lot of ground in a very short space of time with a range of practical advice and success mindset insights that are aimed to helping creative pre-IB and IB students who would love to hear some advice on work and uni from successful IB graduates. Enjoy!


Hi, I’m Eleni Vardaki. I first got to know Milly and Myrto when I was assigned to teach their Higher Level IB History class.

What I loved about the girls was how they had both took responsibility for their progress. I remember how impressed I was with Millie’s maturity, when she showed up to her parents evening meeting with me alone. Millie’s mother, a fellow colleague and IB English teacher, was unable to join Millie during her IB parent’s evenings, as she was working herself to see the parents of her IB English students to discuss their progress. And I remember feeling amazed with the grace and maturity with which Millie received the feedback of where she was at and what her targets were.

Myrto impressed me for a different reason; she took it upon herself to go through a massive transformation in IB2 History as she learned to self-discipline herself and reach a whole new level of expertise in her essay writing and critical thinking skills, after realizing that she had to take responsibility or organizing herself better. I remember how she came out of her HL History exam devastated by how hard it was for her to focus because of a painful tooth ache. She had to be rushed off to the dentist for an emergency appointment right after. She wasn’t well for those exams, but she came in anyway and gave it her all, because when it comes to IB exams and uni applications, re-taking an exam at a later date isn’t an option. So you’ve got to do your best  and persist no matter what – which Myrto certainly did.

IB Diploma Alumni Talks About Self-Discipline


Pavlos Palios is currently doing a Masters in Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, after finishing his undergraduate degree in History at the University of Durham.

As part of his undergraduate degree, he got a lot of experience in public speaking through weekly presentation assignments and through his work in helping to organize speaking events for visiting speakers and lecturers. Pavlos came to my humble little home-studio to film this talk towards the end of his 3rd and final year at Durham, while on a return trip to Greece to visit family and friends.

Something that you may not know about Pavlos, is that he is a gentleman. In true gentlemanly fashion, Pavlos thoughtfully brought me fresh flowers on the day of the interview, which was very kind of him to do. And what’s more, he came prepared with what he wanted to say, making my job as interviewer incredibly easy – all I had to do was introduce him to you, and question him about his three tips to get the show on the road.

And so in true gentlemanly fashion, Pavlos’ organizational skills and efficiency show consideration for others’ time.

And yet you’ll notice that he still manages to pack in an incredible amount of value and unique insights in what is but a brief, 10-minute conversation.



Hi, I’m Eleni Vardaki. I first met Pavlos when I was assigned to be his IB1 and IB2 HL History teacher back in 2012.

What struck me about Pavlo in his IB Diploma years was the combination of  how focused he would always be during class discussions, with listening skills that were very mature for his age, and how he kept a cool head with staying on top of the workload, and maintaining excellent attendance in school and lessons, even when the going got tough. Focus and attendance is something that youths often struggle with when stress like that of the IB kicks in.

Since my mission is to help teach youths who want to learn how to focus more, stress less and motivate themselves, I’m always on the look out to interview people who’s stories I feel would be inspiring for the next generation of IB Diploma students. And so when I reached out to Pavlos, and he said yes, I was of course delighted.

How to Choose Your IB Subjects

And the full interview of two recent IB Diploma graduates who are talking about how they went about choosing their IB subjects is now out!!!

Anyone whose worked with George Papasotiriou and George Tsalas knows that they are GREAT role models for future IB Diploma generations. One of the things I love about George Tsalas and George Papasotiriou is how they never let their ambitious academic goals (both achieved over 40 IB Diploma points) get in the way of treating the people who were rooting for them and supporting them, with the utmost respect and appreciation. They weren’t just ‘takers’, focused on ‘taking’ all the knowledge and time they could from their teachers or community without any regard for the needs of the people they were working with; they were also incredibly kind, compassionate, considerate and more than happy to “give back”, or pass on, any knowledge they had gained with peers and their community. Their experience as IB Diploma students shows that it CAN be possible to demonstrate empathy and considerations of the human needs of their peers and the professionals with whom they are working, while still getting over 40 IB points.

This is a combination of characteristics that is certainly not always present in IBDP graduates who manage to get over 40 IB points. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to watch my video where I interview a Senior EU Diplomat about his concerns regarding the increasing trend, over the the last 10 years, of IB diploma graduates applying for future jobs in the EU diplomatic service who got over 40 IBDP Points. In his experience, a clear correlation has been noticed between how close IBDP graduates are to getting full marks in their IB, and a lack of empathy, social skills and a lack of interest in ‘giving back’ to their community Yet, as for every rule, there are exceptions. George T and George P are certainly among those exceptions. Giving up time to plan and film this video with me is just one of many example of how they embed ‘giving back’ to the people they interact with, and to world, into their daily lives. In this video, they share their personal advice and knowledge that they gained from their experience of doing the IBDP, for the benefit of future generations of IB Diploma students all over the world.

I’d also like to add how happy I am to have had George T. and George P. as my guests on my Youtube channel, because these young men represent (for me) what it truly means to be ‘Greek’; Greeks are people who value both quality work and humanity. These values can easily be seen in the way “The Two Georges” live their lives, and in the way they interact with the world around them on a day-to-day basis. After teaching George T. and George P. for four years straight in their final years of high school (and observing as them approached new challenges with determination, teamwork – and a great sense of humor!), I can confidently say that future employers will be lucky to have them in their business/organization.

I know that I, for one, certainly feel lucky to have them as guests on my show.

I hope you enjoy this video and you find it helpful for your studies, or as a resource for helping look after the pastoral needs of your schools’ IB students (if you are an IB teacher, form tutor or IB Coordinator).

Take care,

Ms Vardaki

P.S. Know someone who’s worrying about what subjects to take for their IB Diploma? Or someone who’s just keen to get a head-start in thinking about what subjects they could take in the IB? Why not help them out and share this video? #sharingiscaring  Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για wink emoticon  

How to Go From a 5 to a 7 in HL IB Maths

Greetings, lads and lasses, dudes and dudettes (or whatever else you like to be called),

Time for another episode of ‘Let’s Talk About the IB’!

Now you may say – but I don’t even do HL IB Maths…so what’s this video got to do with me?

Well to start with, the study skills that Aris Grivas shares with you in this video can be applied to achieve success in your other IB subjects. There are study principles that Aris used to achieve a 7 in HL Maths that you can use for IB History, IB Psychology, IB Economics, IB Biology, etc.

Second, Aris’ IB Maths story isn’t any old success story – here is someone who succeeded in turning around his initial achievement of a 5 in HL Maths, so that by the end of the first year of the IB he achieved a 7. He maintained this success into IB2.

Moral of the story: It can be done.

Can you say: Inspirational (with a capital ‘I’)?

I certainly think so.

Until next month!

Ms Vardaki

P.S. Know someone who’d find this video helpful? Make their day and share away.


Successful IB Graduate Shares His Personal Tips For Coping With the Stress of the IB Diploma

This month’s episode of my show, ‘Let’s Talk About the IB’, represents something of great personal significance for me. 

You see, Daniel Casado Serra and I share something special in common: we both graduated from the Anglo-American School of Moscow.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also share someone special in common: we were both taught IB French by the same teacher, a lovely woman by the name of Agnes Waller who saw me through my IB French exams back in 2004 (…baaack in the day…!).

And as if that wasn’t enough (!!!)….Mrs Agnes Waller (who I remember talking to me and my classmates as we waited nervously to be allowed in to our first IB French exam…because she cared so much that she literally wanted to ‘be there’ for us and wish us good luck) recently taught someone (aka Daniel) as his IB French…who I previously taught here in Athens (IGCSE History Grade 10)!

…Can you say, “small world”…?!? I think so.

This episode is also special because it was recorded back in June in a TOTALLY impromptu manner! Daniel happened to be in Athens with his family for a few days this summer.

With no time to plan what the video topic would be or to explore what questions Daniel would like to focus on in his video, we seized the opportunity to meet one afternoon since he was in town and just go with the flow.

I appreciate Daniel’s courage in agreeing to put himself out there and sit in front of a camera to share his story with the world at very short notice.

I also appreciate his courage in choosing to talk about stress; talking about a topic that takes one back into temporarily re-living emotionally painful moments is hard work. Yet it’s so incredibly helpful for future generations of conscientious IB Diploma graduates who want to hear from people who’ve been through what they’re going through, and who are open to sharing their personal challenges and what they did to cope in order to achieve their goals.


x Ms Vardaki

P.S. Know a pre-IB or IB Diploma student who’d find this video helpful? If so, remember that #sharingiscaring and share away. 

Why Take a Gap Year? A Successful IB Graduate’s Perspective

It’s not uncommon for IB students to feel so much pressure to go straight to university after doing the IB Diploma, that they may even begin to doubt themselves and that inner voice that is telling them to go for a gap year, first.

The higher education industry is booming, and in places like the UK, represents a significant part of the British economy not only because of the tourism that historical universities like Cambridge attract, for example, but also because of the higher fees that oversees students pay.

Add to the mix beliefs (or rather, misconceptions) of people who may automatically see gap years in a negative light, plus the fact that taking a gap year is not how most IB Diploma graduates decide to spend their time…you can understand why taking a leap of faith in that direction could feel a bit scary and make someone worry about whether it is the right decision for them, at that point in time.

If you are an IB Diploma graduate  who is currently taking a gap year, you may be able to relate with some of what Josephina Zoulia (graduating class of 2015) has to say in this month’s interview. As for those of you doing the IB or about to start the IB, even if you don’t see yourself wanting to take a gap year, you may want to keep this episode in mind if you know a friend who would be interested in taking a gap year. #sharingiscaring!

Josephina Zoulia is a kind and caring individual, who cares deeply about people as well as animal welfare. She’s never done anything like this before, and I was touched by her courage and willingness to challenge herself by trying something new in joining me to film this video for you guys.

We hope you like it and find it helpful!

Take care,

Ms Vardaki

P.S. Know someone who’d find this video interesting? Why not share it with them? #sharingiscaring 😀

The 3 Types of Stress IB Diploma Students Experience

In this episode of ‘Let’s Talk About the IB’, Kleio Kartalis tackles 3 issues/stressors of the IB Diploma years that all put on a different kind of pressure and therefore require a slightly different tactic in order to cope.

For example, she talks about how university applications are a major long-term, continuous type of background stressor (most people think the worst is over when the application is sent, but that is far from the truth)…Then we have the stress of closely impending deadlines, which is different to the stress of revising for exams, yet both are more short-term and intense kinds of stress.

Needless to say, these are important issues that we need to talk about. And who better to talk to than someone who successfully navigated the stress of the IB while ambitiously studying for and sitting exams for a total of five HL IB subjects. Plus three 7s at HL.

Oh! And just in case you were wondering…she also made time for CAS, in a meaningful way. Like as in, not just ‘do it because you have to’ do CAS, to get the diploma. No. We’re talking doing CAS with heart and soul (#yesitispossible).


x Ms Vardaki

P.S. Know someone who’s stressing about their IB deadlines? Why not share this video with them. #sharingiscaring

Let’s Talk About The Importance of IB Students’ Health and Happiness

We all go through hard times at multiple points in our IB lives. Anyone who’s done the IB knows that.

I myself am a former IB student and I now teach IB Diploma students as part of my job. As a TOK and IB History teacher, I’m very aware of the challenges my IB students are going through. Loukia Ktena, a recent IB graduate of May 2015, agrees with me on the need for more IB graduates like ourselves to work together so as to provide good quality content that helps IB students feel less alone in their effort to solve their IB life problems. We’ve been through it, and we want to help.

So this month, Loukia and I got together to talk about her memory of both the good times and the hard times of her IB experience. The result was this short video, which contains some personal anecdotes of both high points and low points. All three of the principles Loukia talks about in this  month’s episode of ‘Let’s Talk About the IB’  come from her genuine interest in wanting to help IB students move beyond the goal of simply ‘surviving’ the IB. We hope you find it helpful.

Take care,

Ms Vardaki

P.S. If you liked this video and you have a question about an IB life problem that you’d like answered, come on over to my official Facebook fan page and leave a comment for me to respond to when I’m next available.