I Wish it Never Ended! April 08, 2020

By (Trinity University) - abroad from 01/15/2020 to 05/15/2020 with

CYA (College Year in Athens) - Semester/Academic Year Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience really "made the familiar strange", and allowed me to see the society I grew up in in a new light. It exposed me to life outside of the only culture I have ever known, and allowed me to gain a new sense of global awareness. Not only did I learn a lot about Greece, the world, and myself from my professors and classes, but also from my experiences on my own out in the city.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes at CYA are immersive and eye opening, and they are often taught at various on site locations around the city. Professors are engaging and expect meaningful participation, but also acknowledge that students should have free time to be able to explore the city. CYA faculty genuinely care about their students, and CYA makes it easy for students to form meaningful relationships with their professors through many planned events and trips with students, staff, as well as faculty throughout the semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program is run very smoothly. Students always have their academic, health, and personal needs attended to by CYA administration. CYA staff are very accessible, and I was always able to get the help I needed just by walking into the office.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I found student housing at CYA to be very ideal. Students are spread out over the neighborhood of Pangrati in apartment buildings with Greek families. However, all CYA apartments are no more than a 10 minute walk from the CYA Academic Building (mine was just 2 minutes away), and about 20 minutes from the Acropolis. The location of student housing is very central in the city, and just about anything you could want to do or see is a walking distance away. Pangrati is a fun and exciting neighborhood to live in with its many restaurants, cafes, and bars. I found that my apartment itself came to feel like home very quickly, and my apartment mates and I could not have been any better matched. I have no complaints with CYA living arrangements.

* Food:

Athens is definitely a city for foodies. Greek food is incredible, and NOTHING like Greek food in the US! I completely fell in love with the food culture in Greece, with its taverna dinners that last for hours and many times end in Greek dancing. Food is a huge part of Greek culture, and you will not be disappointed. It is also incredibly easy to eat for cheap in Athens, as you can usually find gyro or souvlaki on just about any street for around 2 euros.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated in Greek culture. CYA does a good job of introducing students to Greek culture when they first arrive with group taverna dinners and "Survival Greek" language sessions, and it is easy to immerse yourself from there on out. Greek culture is incredibly welcoming to foreigners.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Greek pharmacies are amazing. They are on just about every corner in Athens, and with no appointment you can walk in and talk to a doctor who will sell you just about any medicinal remedy you could possibly need at an extremely reasonable price. I found getting the treatment I needed for minor infections and colds to be much easier, faster, and cheaper than what I am used to in the US.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in Athens. It is one of the safest capital cities in Europe, and violent crime is extremely rare. You do need to watch out for petty crime though, as pickpocketing is very common. As long as you keep a watchful eye on your belongings and are aware of local pickpocketing tricks (CYA makes you aware of these at orientation), there is no need to worry. I felt much safer walking around Athens than I do in similar cities in the US.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Athens is a very affordable city. It is very easy to eat for less than 3 euros, and there are many cheap options in the neighborhood around CYA housing.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Take the time to learn how to order food in Greek! Do your best to order coffee and meals in Greek. The locals appreciate it when you try, and they are often willing to help you. I found using my limited knowledge of Greek when buying food or various items to be the best form of practice.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The sense of community between students, faculty, and staff
  • The fieldwork and field trip component of classes that were often taught on-site in the city
  • The endless opportunities that were provided to students, including extracurriculars, volunteer opportunities, and both the optional and mandatory trips organized by CYA
* What could be improved?
  • I don't think anything in particular needed to be improved, except that I wish the Covid-19 crisis hadn't cut our time in Greece short!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It is impossible to do and see everything, so do your best and choose wisely, but do not stress yourself out about it. There is no one "right" way to do study abroad. Take the time to fully immerse yourself in the culture, and it will be an unforgettable experience no matter what.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.