Loved the Ability To Travel Despite Mediocre Program September 20, 2022

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/15/2022 to 05/13/2022 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more independent and how to deal with personal disagreements with those around me. The travel on weekends made it worth it alone.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes are pretty easy, professors know you are studying abroad and don't expect as much. People skip class all the time, attendance not enforced in some classes at all.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Barely interacted with them, did a decent job at handling the covid situation and quarantine arrangements. Brought isolating students meals daily. Some issues with diversity understanding specifically related to Judaism. Noticed some cultural gaps in the administration and a professor that led to conflict between students and admin.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Most students like me were in doubles, rooms were somewhat spacious. Cleaning people came weekly which were helpful in keeping the place tidy. My specific roommate experience unfortunately did not work out well.

* Food:

CYA provides lunch every day, food is great and authentic. There is always a vegetarian and allergen option. Food in Greece in general is delicious and affordable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Hard to integrate given the fact that we had to meet locals on our own. The program could have done more to give opportunities for us to meet Greeks our age. Most exposure was just around the neighborhood but was difficult due to limited greek knowledge

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My only experience was with covid and I think the program handled it well.

* Safety:

Very safe neighborhood

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

There is a huge going out/partying culture at CYA which is the main way to meet other participants. The group mentality is intense and overbearing. As someone who is not interested in going out, it was hard to find like minded people to hang out with. Administration is also not the most understanding or culturally sensitive. However, I did enjoy the flexible schedule so I could travel a lot and the field study trips that allowed access to places that are difficult to access otherwise.


* 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)

It is easy to live on a budget if you would like, food and transport are super cheap but if you want to travel or go out to eat a lot, it adds up

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 110
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy from local grocery stores, if you eat out get falafel or gyro which are around 2.5 euro each. Delicious and cheap!


* 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

Greek teacher was encouraging, but opportunities were limited and the general program didn't really care. No way to keep up skills.

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 3 Semesters of French
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak to people in the grocery store, people are usually happy to help you 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • Roommate Selection
  • Cultural sensitivity
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Adjusting to a new culture can take a while and traveling too much can lead to burnout

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.