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), Virtual Internships and Gap 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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Ruby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience!

Studying abroad with CYA was the perfect decision. I was able to explore so many places in Athens and Greece, both in an academic context and for fun. All of my classes were very interesting, especially as a Classics major, but there are a wide variety of courses offered. I loved living in the neighbourhood of Pangrati and it was so easy to get other places in Athens. I made some really good friends, especially my roommates. The country is very affordable, I loved the food and I will miss it a lot!

Pros
  • Amazing food
  • Interesting classes
Cons
  • Finals heavy
  • Less community spaces
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Andrea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If I could stay in Greece forever, I would!

Studying abroad through CYA was the best decision I ever made. I was able to meet so many people, whom I will be friends with for the rest of my life, and fall in love with a country and culture I knew nothing about aside from mythology and literature!

My professors were amazing and all of the staff I interacted with were super nice and helpful, and I couldn't recommend this program enough. The location is right in central Athens so there's plenty for you to do and ease of access to travel outside of the city--on your own or on the organized trips!

If you love to try new things or travel, Athens is the city to be in. I wish I didn't have to leave!

Pros
  • Great Professors
  • On site classes
  • Trips to other parts of Greece
Cons
  • Minimal interaction with locals
Default avatar
Gaetano
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

College Year Athens Winter Program 2022- Archaeology

This was truly one of the most interesting and exciting programs I have ever been on. College Year in Athens is dedicated to teaching students in a way that gets them out of the classroom and into the world around them. This three week long winter program is a great way to familiarize oneself with the fundamentals of an archaeological excavation and meet people with similar interests. Work in the field is supplemented by short trips to other archaeological sites in the surrounding area, as well as to the Acropolis of Athens. Professor Karavas is one of the most knowledgeable professors in the field and is able to draw on his experiences at his own dig site to provide students with a world-class and one of a kind experience.

Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Gaetano, thanks for spending the Winter Session with us! It sounds like you were really able to connect with your coursework and interests while on-site at an archaeological excavation! We're so happy to hear that you were able to enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience with CYA!

Default avatar
Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CYA changed my life (for real)

Studying with CYA impacted me in countless ways. I learned so much about the history and culture of Greece and the country quickly began to feel like home to me. The staff went above and beyond to make us feel safe and comfortable while also challenging us to learn new things and experience all Athens has to offer. In general, Greece is the most beautiful country I have ever seen and I think everyone needs to visit at least once. I cannot recommend College Year in Athens enough to anyone looking for a fun semester abroad.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Cherish. Every. Moment.

Time actually flies when you are having fun. Capitalize on each moment. Explore as much as possible and soak up all Athens has to offer everyday.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi, Lauren! We're so happy to hear that CYA changed your life and that you were able to have a comfortable and challenging semester! Thanks for spending a semester with us, and encourage others to check out Greece and CYA!

Default avatar
Sage
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Love Everything About Athens!

I loved Athens! The study abroad program allowed me to meet some of the best people I now know and have given me some of the best memories. I loved the classes and being able to go to different sites for class. It was such a unique experience to be able to visit the historical sites that we talked about for the semester. It was amazing to be there in person and be able to tell people I visited the site, multiple times even! Being able to connect with the professors differently than I do in the US was refreshing. The professors at CYA were a lot of fun and engaging. They really cared about your academics while also making the classes fun and different compared to classes back home. The food in Greece is amazing as well, even if it just a gyro or souvlaki from across the street. I miss the food and the people I met. The night life was also a lot of fun and gave me a lot of things to do around the city.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take your time at places and don't rush. There is so much to see, you will get to it. Appreciate your time there and enjoy the little things.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Sage, thanks for sharing your semester with us! It sounds like you really got to take advantage of everything Greece and CYA has to offer. We're glad that you were able to take your coursework out into Athens and connect with the material that you were learning about. Keep in contact with us and all the friends you made!

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.

Jennifer Holland

Job Title
Student Affairs Advisor
Jennifer Holland, herself an alumna of the Program, has been with CYA for 22 years; first as a student and then an administrator. Her favorite things are her family, CYA, Greeks, and the food and natural beauty of Greece.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have wonderful memories from my first CYA trip to the Peloponnese. My favorite is of winding through the hills and plains of the Argolid on a bus with my fellow students. As we made our way to Epidaurus we were being read Henry Miller’s, description of the Argolid plain and the road to Epidaurus from his book, The Colossus of Maroussi.

The combination of what I was seeing, Miller’s descriptions, and Professor Diamant’s voice, made the whole experience out of this world. For the moment nothing existed apart from myself, the deep silver-greens and bright oranges of the plain’s olive and orange groves, and the clear blue Greek sky always on the horizon, beckoning us toward our next adventure.

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

I think that working for the Athens office of CYA has helped me become a citizen of the world as opposed to (just) an American. In the same way that our course offerings invite and inspire our students to open their horizons, awakening them to new points of view and ways of thinking that they’d never encountered or considered until stepping foot in Greece, being a part of the CYA team has opened my own horizons and exposed me to situations, people, and places that continue to inspire, challenge, and educate.

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

My favorite stories are usually having to do with how Greece and things Greek continue to stay with an alum even after several years have passed since they completed their studies here. Many return, sometimes with their partners and families, having maintained their knowledge of Greek and often have improved it to a level close to fluency. Some continue to cook the Greek dishes they learned to cook while in the Program. Others return to visit with friends made in Greece while they were students at CYA. The connection to Greece is often a deep and permanent one. This is most rewarding.

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

Having already happily studied things ancient and classic while studying at CYA back in the day, I would take our courses on urbanism or anything environmental. This seems to me most relevant to the present. Likewise, our courses on international relations and politics would be valuable and extremely interesting. We have some of the best people in the field covering these subjects.

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

I’m not sure if this is unique, but it certainly does make me proud. We are not a large school with the capacity for thousands of students, but we operate as one by offering many options and services that go above and beyond what might be expected from a program of its size. I think this is because we have an extremely dedicated team. Everyone has a keen and genuine interest in what they do and a strong belief in the CYA mission. We work hard to deliver the best possible experience to our students.

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

I think that going the extra mile for the student, client, or customer, maintaining authenticity, and striving to promote and uphold high standards when it comes to teamwork, communication, and goals greatly contribute to attaining and maintaining a successful program or company. This is something CYA does and something our students and the entire CYA community benefit from.

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
Gap Year Association Logo
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