Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Coffman

Kristen is in her 2nd year of physical therapy school in California and loving every day. Outside of school and clinical rotations, she loves to hike, cook, exercise and dream of more places to travel.

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Why did you choose this program?

My heart was yearning to go to Greece and CYA sounded like the perfect mix of a unique education and a dream adventure! I researched, looked at pictures, read some personal stories and prayed about spending 4 months in Athens, Greece to study. Everything I saw made my heart jump with excitement and simply anticipating the possibility of going made me more excited and joyful than ever. I knew it was an opportunity that I could let pass.

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

My program assisted in ensuring I’d earn credit for the courses I was going to take, they provided me with housing and educated me on the financial aspects of taking courses abroad. I had to organize and finance my travel plans to and from Greece as well as any travel plans I made while overseas and I was also responsible for most meals except for lunch 4 days a week.

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

For a few months prior to my trip, I studied Greek with the use of C.D.s and YouTube videos, which helped tremendously. I think it is really important to put forth effort in learning a language before you travel. It’s respectful and will also help you out a lot when you’re shopping, using public transportation and especially if you get lost! Additionally, I would suggest getting up-to-date with U.S. politics and news before traveling. Maybe people will ask how you feel about something and it’s hard to answer if you’re not even sure what’s going on.

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

The workload for this abroad program was much less than the college I attended in the United States. There were 2 days a week where I only had a class for a couple hours, and the other 3 days I had a class for the whole day but didn’t have endless homework. They purposefully keep the workload a bit lighter so you have time to travel, explore and enjoy your surroundings.

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 was not having the support of friends, family, and church that I thought I needed to be well. There were some challenging days for sure, but overall, the program staff was deeply caring and made me feel right at home. The program director even took it upon herself to buy my gluten-free bread from time to time as that was hard to come by in our location. This opportunity reminded me that God is with me wherever I go, that He will provide me with everything I need and that I’m stronger than I think.

What’s one memory of your trip that you wish you could re-experience?

When we went on a field trip to Andros Island, we got to hike over this these tall rocks and plunge down to the beautiful Aegean Sea. The water was bluer than I have ever seen before, the sun was shining just right and the temperature was perfect. My classmates, professors and I all got to swim and float in the Sea for hours, talking and enjoying that beautiful place.