Greece in a Pandemic: It is What It Is June 10, 2021

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 04/14/2021 to 05/29/2021 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Learned: Language matters A LOT for connecting with people Inspired to learn more languages! Cultural Immersion is important to me I want to live abroad again (where I speak the language or learn it) Yes it was worthwhile (just hard at times)

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I really liked my Sociology class. It was balanced with what to read and other assignments given the pandemic restrictions and shortened time frame. Overall, it was an okay experience. Pandemic made it hard for them to balance the workload and the Professors had not yet had experience teaching virtually (understandably due to newness). My Environmental class was very poorly communicated. We had 3 teachers and neither teacher seemed to know what the other teacher was in charge of and they often did not give us advanced notice of field studies. Their original final exam was INTENSE. They expected us to write 2 800 word essays and it was a 4 part exam heavy on statistical data points....that would have been ridicuoulously hard had they not amended it after students spoke up in class. I want to be understanding that it was a pandemic and my school had a specialized shortened program (7 weeks), but also, I had this similiar schedule in my home college bc of the pandemic and the classes were not as chaotic as this Environmental course. I did appreciate that they did not make us pay for textbooks!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrators were helpful but I dont feel like they really prepared me for Greece. They were helpful when I had issues prior to arriving with my flight and luggage, and they sent us a lot of emails and helped coordinate our departure, but I and my roommates often felt like we were just thrown into the water and had to figure a lot on our own. Maybe that was intended, but not what I expected

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I liked my apartment and its placement! BUT had this been non-covid, this would have been annoying to live in. The apartment is too small for 5 people, but a good size for 3 (they limited roommates due to covid). I appreciated not having a roommate.

* Food:

The food usually was good. I am not a picky eater, so I typically liked the lunches they provided (the meat meal). They offered vegetarian and Vegan options, but I never intentionally had those. Sometimes their meals lacked seasoning but I had that at home (we had to usually eat at home due to restrictions)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Not integrated at all outside of help from my professors to learn Greek and about Greek Culture from their perspective. This is probably bc of the pandemic and that Greece was locked up mostly until the last 2 weeks of my trip. CYA did not help with finding orgs to be a part of or other ways to connect with students but i dont know to what extent this is due to the pandemic and Greek restrictions or an error on their side.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to go to the Dermatologist for a cyst issue (nothing serious) and the experience was cheaper than at home. The consultation was about $30 USD when it would have been $50 USD at home copay. I got the medication just walking up to the pharmacy and no problem. Though there was more complications bc of insurance and this was towards the end of the program and I had a time crunch with field trips but needed medicine ASAP. So it was complicated but I received the care I needed and faster than in the US

* Safety:

Very safe if you can "pass" as Greek. Otherwise, it was mostly safe. I could "pass" as Greek so people didnt often approach me, but my other friends who were stereotyped as Tourists faced some subtle following (once) and some racist experiences (Like my black friend not being served a plate at a restaurant when everyone else was, and Farmers market people being rude to her but not me, standing next to her). I dont know what it was, maybe pandemic had people on edge, but it felt like we were always being stared at (and clearly people did look at us because I made a lot of awkward eye contact with Locals). This was all in the Athens region.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I would not go to Greece because not knowing Greek and not finding ppl my age (who likely speak English) is a barrier to cultural immersion


* 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)

The Pandemic made it hard at first. We spent a lot of money on take out food for convenience and we couldnt go out it evened out with restrictions + buying extra stuff. I spent about $170 a week for 7 weeks if you dont count the money I spent travelling. Plus the Euro is more powerful than the dollar

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $170
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook more at home Cook all your food the 2nd to last week you're in your country and just eat out the last week (mostly) that way you waste less food (We had to throw out food at the end) Do sourvenir shopping the first few weeks and dont worry about it later


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The Location within Athens
  • The limited HW given
* What could be improved?
  • More cultural Immersion/tips
  • Available Greek Phrases to learn Video (basic ones) (They gave a small book but that book was ehh)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? More Greek (though I did try beforehand and am proud of what I did study!) That the pandemic would really change my experience Relationship Greeks with other neighboring countries so Im aware of people's bias