CYA (College Year in Athens)


CYA is a non-profit educational institution that offers semester, academic year, and summer study abroad programs in Greece. We offer an academically rigorous program of studies combined with the vibrant experience of day-to-day contact with the people, monuments, and landscape of Greece and the Mediterranean - a rapidly changing region with a uniquely varied past.

We place an emphasis on learning beyond the classroom, providing you with hands-on learning in the rich environment of Greece. Many classes are held on-site and many students participate in service learning, internships, and volunteering, adding a new dimension to learning and a global understanding of the subject.

CYA is dedicated to fostering personal discovery, growth, and cross-cultural sensitivity. Our ultimate goal is for you to return home academically inspired, intellectually stimulated, and with a passionate commitment to the furtherance of international and intercultural understanding.


5 Plateia Stadiou
11635 Athens


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Yes, I recommend this program

I decided to study abroad in Greece relatively last minute, but in the end I left it all very content with my experience, with a strong desire to return. The CYA program staff are very communicative and helped with every step in the visa application process and other prep coming to the country. While there, they were also pretty accommodating about various arrangements/needs. It was definitely a challenge to take classes while living in a new city and traveling quite frequently on weekends. However, the courses I took were very interesting and more engaging than my home college classes due to the small class sizes and on-site classes. Learning about the Acropolis sitting atop the Acropolis was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The three field trips built into the program (Delphi, Peloponnese, and Thessaloniki) were another great opportunity to site-see and learn on-site. Our neighborhood of Pangrati was an ideal location, with key tourism sites and shopping areas in very close walking distance. The local cafe became a second home and ideal study spot for most CYA students. I greatly enjoyed the endless opportunities to learn more about Greek culture and politics.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would make even more of an effort to engage with local Greeks, especially those closer to my age, in an effort to make long-lasting connections. I would also attempt to do even more exploring within Athens and in Greece at large instead of outside travel.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time on the CYA Summer program 2019! I participated in the Archaeology course about the Bronze Age Aegean. We spent a little over two weeks in Athens, a week in Santorini, and a week in Crete. During this time, we had lectures at museums, at sites, and in the CYA classrooms. The site visits were key to the educational experience--even if you were exhausted from the day (or night) before, you learned so much by being there and experiencing the site. There was plenty of free time, especially on Santorini and Crete, so in addition to learning a lot, you also had the chance to do typical touristy things in Greece too. The free time also helped you bond with the other people in your class! Since the classes were fairly small in general (mine was 16 students, I believe), it was easy to get to know everyone, but also form close bonds with new friends. The apartments also helped foster this, 4 people in an apartment with a communal space, shared kitchen, and bathroom.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be spontaneous! If your professor says there is something cool, just a short (long) hike in a certain direction, trust them! It's the moments like that that will make your experience more memorable and more of an adventure. Get lost in a new city (with a fully charged phone with GPS, just in case), and explore something you couldn't find on a map!
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Yes, I recommend this program

The CYA Summer Session in Athens was by far the best experience of my life. I took the Geography of Faith class about Paul and Early Christianity in Greece and I learned A TON and got to see so much! Professor Afzal was super knowledgable and gave such amazing background on ancient Greece in addition to the religion/classics part of this course. Everyone was taking this class with different interests and backgrounds, so he did a great job at making this course interesting to everyone! My favorite part was getting to see SO much of Greece. Living in Athens, we got to really experience true Greek culture, get acclimated in a new "home", and got to conquer foreign public transportation. As part of our class, we got to go on an 8 day field trip all around northern Greece, which was absolutely incredible. We got to see so many different places that weren't super touristy and were absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I would've never even known they existed if not for that trip and this program! The weekends were perfect opportunities to visit islands and this whole experience was truly the trip of a lifetime.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would've booked my return flight home for later! I gave myself 6 days after the program ended to go to Santorini, but I would've loved to visit Crete, Mykonos, and travel to Italy as well!
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Yes, I recommend this program

CYA is a great choice if you want something more exciting and active than the usual classroom environment, while still learning from incredible professors and getting to travel.

Athens is a fun, safe city with so much to do and CYA has a perfect location in the city. The people in Athens are so nice and love talking to students. All the people I met in Greece, were so welcoming, which makes studying abroad there an easy shift coming from so far away. Athens is also in a great location for travel, which there is plenty of time for because classes are only Monday-Thursday. CYA also takes you on several week long field trips to places in Greece that would be hard to reach on your own. Getting to climb old fortresses, explore caves, or discover beautiful beaches always made learning about the places exciting.

The classes are taught by interesting, engaging, and easy to talk to professors who are very experienced and accomplished in their areas. The professors want students to succeed not only in their classes, but also in their careers. Most classes have field trips to see what you’re learning about in person and many professors to take students to conferences or introduce them to other professionals in their field. As an economics major with a focus on political science, I was able to attend several conferences and learn from/speak with incredible politicians, economists, and leaders from around the world, all because of CYA.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would suggest going on the optional trips that CYA offers. These trips give you a chance to visit new cities, islands, or countries with expert guides and professors. The optional trips took me to so many places I never would have found on my own, like secret beaches, beautiful churches and monasteries, small museums, and even caves and castles. These trips also give you a great opportunity to meet more people within the CYA program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My time with CYA was fantastic. I learned so much in my course about Greek heritage and was able to travel all over Greece, including Crete, Rhodes, and Paros. Housing in Athens was centrally located, and the Acropolis was in walking distance. My professor was wonderful and supported me both in the classroom and outside of it. Upon arrival, I was given a detailed packet containing information about activities in the area. My favorite part of the program by far was the travel. The island of Crete was amazing, and Knossos was one of the coolest archeological sites that I have ever seen. I also had plenty of free time to go to the beaches on the islands during my time there. I was able to try a wide variety of Greek cuisine and went to several excellent tavernas that CYA staff recommended to me.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure to travel and see the country outside of class. The Greek islands are worth exploring!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Hayley Segall

Hayley is a student at Oberlin College (class of 2020) majoring in religion and double minoring in politics and rhetoric & composition. She is passionate about her career path in interfaith/intercultural communication and perceives traveling as one of the best and most privileged ways to educate herself and make tangible connections with people of various cultures and backgrounds.

Why did you choose this program?

When I was choosing where to apply, my study abroad advisor told me how familial and communal life is in Greece. He described how Greek people often participate in extremely direct and honest conversation and welcome you into their home with open arms. When I heard this, I was reminded of my own family and it gave me immense comfort to know that I could experience a completely different culture and geography while also maintaining the values I hold near to my heart.

Every hope that I had about Greek culture was affirmed through my experience with CYA. By choosing this program, I was able to live in a local neighborhood detached from the artificiality of tourism. I was able to make real connections with locals and challenge myself to see daily life from a very different political and cultural perspective. Yet, no matter how great the differences were, I always found that my program and neighborhood facilitated and cherished a warm and welcoming attitude that made me feel as though I had a true home in Athens.

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

At the beginning of the semester, CYA provided a comprehensive list of contacts for extracurriculars ranging from sports to volunteer opportunities to craft-based activities. Through this list, I was able to connect with the Orange House Project, which is a non-profit in Athens that serves the refugee population. Volunteering with the Orange House Project was an incredibly important aspect of my study abroad experience.

CYA also took us on three program-led trips in Greece: Delphi, the Peloponnese and Thessaloniki. These trips were completely organized by the administration, but we were almost always responsible for our own food. CYA did offer to help with other personal travel itineraries, but I think most of my friends and I did that planning on our own.

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

One piece of advice that I would give to someone going abroad, in general, and specifically in Greece, is that learning the basics of the native language is essential for a fully immersive study abroad. I had absolutely no experience with Greek and took a basic level of Greek language and culture class at CYA.

While I have always had trouble and anxiety surrounding language-learning, I loved my professor at CYA and felt so comfortable practicing my Greek in her classroom and in my neighborhood. Almost everyone in Athens can communicate with you in English, but whenever I at least attempted to use my Greek, I found that people were far more receptive to me. Learning and practicing Greek helped me make connections with locals because people were so excited to understand why I was learning the language and almost always offered to help me with my homework (whether I asked or not).

Learning the language is both a sign of respect and an extremely helpful tool in battling a sense of isolation in a new culture.

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

An average week is different for everyone. I did have some regularity to my schedule, but often enjoyed not knowing how my days would end up.

In the mornings, I would always go to the local gym about a half-mile up the street, shower and then go to class. I would have program-provided lunch between classes and then head to one of my three favorite neighborhood coffee shop. Coffee culture in Greece is huge (I went to a coffee shop on average once to twice a day). I would then spend my evenings with friends by going to dinner, going out in other parts of Athens, or exploring the tourist/local parts of the city.

I would have classes from Monday-Thursday and would spend most weekends either traveling around Greece or taking a few side trips to other countries.

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

One of my biggest fears about going abroad was that I would feel completely isolated from my environment and that I would shut down and miss out on important experiences.

I overcame this fear by both challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone while also cutting myself slack by taking time to myself when I needed it. Small moments of bravery led to some of the most impactful experiences: trying out Greek with someone I don't know, intentionally getting lost in a new neighborhood, volunteering with a local organization. Yet, it was also so important for me to recognize that it is ok to need alone time and that designated alone time can actually help lessen a sense of isolation.

I learned so much by simply observing my surroundings at coffee shops alone and going for daily runs around the historical sites and natural landscapes.

What happens when things go wrong? How do you best prepare for the inevitable sicknesses, travel issues and personal troubles that arise when abroad?

In short, remember to take a breath and find a contact where you are to mediate the situation. As long as you are in no immediate danger, you truly are ok. Take everything as an experience in and of itself.

When I was in Crete, a massive storm hit the island and my friends and I found ourselves stuck on the island for two days longer than intended. It was initially extremely stressful to figure out how to handle delayed and canceled flights in a foreign language and unfamiliar place. Yet, after we took a deep breath, my friends and I found that Aegean Airlines was more than willing to pay for our hotels, food, and transportation.

When my friend became sick in Athens, another friend and I took her to the hospital. We were all overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of the procedures in Greek hospitals, but called our program and had them translate for us. It's ok to ask questions and to ask for help!

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Hailey Lovett

Job Title
Coordinator, Administrative Support and Ambassador Program

Hailey joined the CYA team in May 2018 and has loved it ever since! It was her study abroad experience in Scotland that inspired her to join the International Education field, and one of her favorite parts of this job is helping students also have an amazing time studying abroad!

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is standing in front of Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland during the fall of 2016 while I was studying abroad. Standing there, knowing that some parts of the castle were from the 12th century and that I was standing where countless historically crucial people have stood, was an amazing feeling. I truly can’t describe it! Being in a place that had seen the world change so much was absolutely breath taking!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I feel that I have personally grown a lot since joining the CYA team! I had never realized just how much goes into sending students abroad. Getting to see the whole process first hand has taught me so much. I also love working with our Alumni Ambassadors! Just because you come back from studying abroad, doesn’t mean you stop learning from the experience. I thought I had an understanding of that when I came back from abroad, but I have gained a whole new perspective working with our recent alumni. I love hearing from them and working with them on their home campuses!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

My favorite stories from our returned students are ones where they find ways to deeply connect with the culture around them. Whether it’s making local friends during a morning workout or spending time with children when babysitting, it’s always fascinating to see how people can connect through different means.

These kinds of interactions end up teaching our students so much about the culture of the host country, and about themselves! It’s also amazing to hear just how great of an impact these kinds of connections have on our students!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I could go on any of our programs, I’d go on our academic year program! Having the opportunity to study abroad for one semester during undergrad was incredible, and my only regret is that I didn’t stay longer. You learn so much about the world and yourself while abroad, and if I had known everything that I know now, I would’ve chosen to stay abroad for a full year! Getting to see the world from a different perspective is a privilege that I never expected to have, and cherish so much now!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think what makes CYA so unique is how the company is like a family, and I believe that is felt by everyone from the staffers to the students. It creates an extremely unique working dynamic that enables us to connect with our students the way that we do, and this is what keeps the company growing. We had a record number of students with us this most recent semester, and I believe that truly is a testament to the dedication and hard work that is put in by everyone!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe dedication is what makes a company successful. When you have a great group of people, who are all dedicated to making a company successful, come together, remarkable things can happen! This is such a dynamic field to be in, and one always has to be responsive to changes in the social, political, and global environments. In order to be able to do all that, everyone has to be dedicated to bringing the company’s vision to fruition, and that is exactly what I have witnessed here at CYA!

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