Alumni Spotlight: Kim Johnson


Kim is a Junior at the University of Michigan, but is originally from Walnut Creek, California. At Michigan, she is a varsity athlete, tour guide, and regular volunteer at Mott Children's Hospital.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for two main reasons. Firstly, the timing was perfect. As an athlete, I don't have many opportunities to study abroad, so CYA's month-long summer program was perfect for my busy schedule. Secondly, Greece has been a dream location I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember so I was excited I was able to find a program that went to both Athens and the islands.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CYA was very good at assisting me with Greece-specific things. For example, CYA gave us an orientation giving us an idea about the differences in Greek culture, food, etc. They also gave us good checklist on things we will need to pack and things to do before we depart. It was up to us to choose how much to pack, what phone plan to get, etc. but they were very good about answering questions and providing guidance along the way.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My recommendation would be to reach out to alumni to decide on which CYA class to take. There are many different types of classes and each has a very different vibe, so to make sure you choose the right one for yourself, I would recommend getting as much information from people who have taken the classes before.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every day is a bit different, but there is typically a healthy mix of class and free time during a typical day. Every day we either had one or two class sessions. One of the best parts was we would rarely have class early in the morning, so we'd typically be able to sleep in and then go to our first class around 10 or 11. Then, if that was the only session for the day, we'd have the rest of the day free to go to the beach or explore the city/town. Otherwise, we would have time off for lunch and then have a second session. No matter what though, we had every evening free.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going abroad was having something stolen. I am known for misplacing things and sometimes being careless with my belongings so I was really worried about somehow losing my phone, wallet, etc. I overcame it by using many different precautions such as locks on my purse, having an across-body strap, etc. I also didn't check a bag to avoid anything being stolen from checking it. Overall, I think the precautions were necessary because it's better to be safe than sorry and in the end, I didn't lose anything valuable on the trip.

What are the things you did before your program started?

I think traveling with my sister for 10 days before my program started was very helpful. It was beneficial for having time with a more experienced traveler to learn some tricks and to have some time adjusting to travel. This was helpful because, by the time my program started, I felt much more comfortable as a traveler and was ready to be on my own.