CYA

CYA (College Year in Athens)

About

CYA (College Year in Athens) is a non-profit educational institution that has been acting as a cultural and educational bridge between the U.S. and Greece for nearly 60 years. Our study abroad program helps students to develop new perspectives on the world, their own countries and themselves.

CYA offers outstanding academic programs (semester, year, winter and summer) and Virtual Internships programs all of which embrace the vibrant experience of day-to-day contact with the people, the monuments and the landscape of Greece. All the programs place an emphasis on learning beyond the classroom, offering hands-on learning experience in the rich and diverse environment of the country. Our extensive curriculum is complemented by on-site classes adding a new dimension to learning as well as a global understanding of the subjects taught.
Our CYA expert faculty and passionate staff are dedicated to offer students the best learning and life changing experience.

Reviews

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Kaitlin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

CYA

Greece is the best place to study abroad. CYA people are here to help you at any step! (Especially the student affairs office- they are the best!) My professors were amazing & made the classwork relevant to Greece and other current events, as well as being very inclusive and encouraging us to get immersed in the culture. Located in the Pangrati neighborhood where weekly farmers markets occur, has many cute cafes, 20 min walk from the acropolis, & right by the stadium. The food in Greece is incredible (very easy to be vegetarian), & I would highly recommend to travel to islands.

Pros
  • classes are really engaging
  • school trips take you to beautiful/ historical/ cultural rich places
  • student affairs administrators help you to get more immersed
Cons
  • classwork tended to be heaviest near the end/ finals
  • you will have to leave greece
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Leighton
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The Quintessential Study Abroad Experience

The College Year in Athens has everything one could need not only to explore Greece but to have a complete and enduring study abroad experience. Although on the surface Athens may seem like a location meant for those interested in Ancient History or Art History, CYA defies this understanding. CYA offers a broad range of courses from Political Science to Psychology to Business. Any student regardless of academic interest can find a home in CYA's academic offerings. However, beyond the diversity in course selection, CYA is structured down to its housing in a way that forces every student to ingrate into their community and explores Athens and Greece as a whole. With the whole program nestled in the Pangrati neighborhood of Athens, every student is forced to be intimately acquainted with local shops, restaurants, cafes, and vendors. Outside of all of this CYA is staffed by helpful and enthusiastic people who have an endless wealth of knowledge that is geared toward supporting American students studying in Greece. They know how to help with every type of problem that could occur, and could not do a better job of making students feel comfortable. Whether they are organizing a cab to your apartment when you first arrive or helping replace a passport, they are there for you. CYA also has a system of affinity and interest groups to help students get involved in different ways across the City. Whether it be looking for underground restaurants or a chance to hike Mount Olympus, CYA students can find extracurricular opportunities. Finally, what would a study abroad program be without more travel? At CYA students embark on two mandatory Field Study trips over the course of their semester. These trips, guided by CYA faculty and supported by CYA staff, bring students to an area of Greece to learn and experience that is outside of Athens. During my Trip to the Peloponnese, I was guided through ancient Sparta, tasted Olive Oil at an Olive Mill, and visited the Ancient Stadium at Olympia. These trips are organized completely by CYA, allowing students to focus purely on learning and experiencing all these great places have to offer! These field studies are jam-packed with fascinating information and unforgettable experiences. Overall, there is nothing more CYA could offer to be a better more holistic Study Abroad Program. Whether you want to or not, you will have a wonderful time, meet wonderful people, and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Pros
  • CYA's Field Study trips are wonderful
  • Diverse and engaging Course Options
  • Athens is a large and diverse city with an endless amount to explore
Cons
  • Athens is large, and can be quite intimidating at first
  • The Greek Language can be quite intimidating to English Speakers
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Luis
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying at a Nexus Point in Time

I first arrived to Athens with the intention of getting to know all of its ancient monuments. For students of history, classics, and archaeology, I think this is the primary aspect that makes CYA attractive. For sure, the ancient monuments and ruins that dot much of Athens makes for a picturesque and out-of-body experience. However, Athens much more than its ruins, its a city that is teeming with energy at all hours of the days, from museum events, rebetiko music in tavernas, and general nightlife, there is something for everyone at any time. Greeks also tend to be very welcoming of foreign students, people of all backgrounds who come to really immerse themselves this unique culture will be welcomed with an incredible hospitality. CYA is very cognizant of this, and they've prepared a study abroad experience that encourages this kind of exploration; anthropology courses which empowers their students to inquire into the city's vibrant culture, and archaeology courses which take place at the sites they explore. This is conducive for a kind of experiential learning that is unmatched by traditional forms of teaching. The lecturers at CYA are respective experts in their field, which makes classroom discussions in these experiential settings often feel like you're being taken on a tour of the city through time, rather than a static lecture. Beyond Athens, CYA incorporates field study in other parts of Greece, which allowed me to really grasp the cultural and geographic diversity that makes Greece the most beautiful country I've ever seen. tl;dr although the academic component was amazing, and at the heart of the study abroad experience, I feel like I learned more about life in my time here than I could have at a traditional institution.

Pros
  • A city that never sleeps
  • Passionate instructors
  • Greeks are really nice actually
Cons
  • Learning Greek is difficult
  • You'll probably want to stay
  • Even a year abroad feels too short
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Janelle
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Program

I had a great time with CYA Athens! Met a lot of people from all over the world and even learned a little bit of Greek. I felt immersed in the culture as I got my daily coffee or saw my favorite waiter for dinner. The professors made you feel welcome and all the staff was willing to help and take the extra mile to help you. A truly great program. We got to travel all over Greece so I feel like I know everything about all of Greece not just Athens. I loved learning about Greek history and mythology and literally standing where famous people have in the past. Incredible

Pros
  • Family
  • Language
  • Culture
Cons
  • Abroad
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Kendall
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying Political Science in the Birthplace of Democracy

I can't say enough good things about my time studying abroad through CYA. I had great communication with the program administration and felt safe the whole time. My class was a political science course, and getting to explore that while standing on ancient ruins where philosophers and citizens first implemented democracy in society was surreal. The apartments we got to stay in with our classmates were units in buildings that locals lived in--I loved the integration that provided. My professor was so warm and kind and she took us all over the city, incorporating immersion as part of the program content. I learned so much and loved the excursions to other islands and towns we got to explore, as well. I also had the best food of my entire life during the trip. I made friends with people in the program and everyone there was so welcoming. Athens is such a friendly, cool city and having the chance to study there with CYA is a memory I will look back on forever! I hope to make it back soon!

Pros
  • Food
  • Friendliness of Culture
  • Location

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

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!

Staff Interviews

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

Claire Jeantheau

Job Title
Social Media Coordinator
Claire recently graduated from Dickinson College, majoring in classics and education and studying abroad with College Year in Athens in Fall 2019. After working with the CYA MediaLab while abroad, she interned with CYA, then began her current role, in Spring 2021.
Claire

What is your favorite travel memory?

The field study week I spent on Crete with CYA is a trip I won’t forget. I visited different archaeological and historical sites in the mornings, swam in the afternoons, and enjoyed long taverna meals and rambles with friends in the evening. In between, our bus took us through some of the most stunning seaside and mountain landscapes I’ve ever seen. It was a world away from what my home college’s classroom would’ve been like that fall!

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

My experience with CYA has taught me a lot about the international education field--specifically what the major trends are and the variety of programs available abroad for current students. Learning about these things has made me better able to share about opportunities with CYA--like virtual/in-person volunteering and internships--that fit with what students are looking for.

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

CYA had a student in Fall 2020 whose time in Greece was so meaningful that he decided to stay for nearly a year--next enrolling for the Spring 2021 semester, and then a summer course! This isn’t the first story I’ve heard about students extending their time with CYA, and I think it shows how compelling the ways of life and opportunities to learn in Greece can be.

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

I would love to take a summer course with CYA. I studied in Athens in the fall and mostly traveled on the mainland, so these courses--which often take place across multiple islands--would offer an experience with a whole new season and side of Greece. It would also be fun to branch out from my classics background and try a new course area, like food anthropology or travel writing.

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

I think CYA stands out from other study abroad programs because of its focus on immersion in life in Greece. Students can and do visit other countries across Europe while abroad with CYA because of the close travel distance. However, CYA encourages students to explore all regions of Greece through optional trips, and connects them to neighborhood life in Athens and cultural traditions. I’m proud of the recent work CYA has been doing in expanding social media and researching inclusion practices so that more students are aware of, and have access to, those opportunities.

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

Coming from my position and after working remotely for several months, I think communication is key. Last-minute ideas and problems always come up--most recently, during the coronavirus pandemic--that require people to communicate effectively. In addition to my team doing regular check-ins, I think CYA does a great job of following up with students and alumni who interact with us on social platforms.

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
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