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.

COVID-19 FAQ

Curious about how Greece & CYA has handled the COVID-19 crisis so far, and how we’re preparing for upcoming semesters? Check out the COVID-19 FAQ on our website here:
Founded
1962
Headquarters

5 Plateia Stadiou
11635 Athens
Greece

Reviews

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

I highly recommend this program! I studied abroad with CYA during Spring 2020-and yes, that means I was only abroad from January through the middle of March. But the time that I spent in Greece was a blast, and I'm thankful for every second. Athens is very unique, being a connector between Europe and Eastern countries, meaning that while you can also travel places that everyone studying abroad in Europe travels to- Paris, London, Venice, etc., you can also go really amazing places like Istanbul and Tel Aviv during your free time abroad. CYA is a really well done program, and my favorite part was the one (ideally of two, but cut due to coronavirus) week long trip we took with the entire program around the Peloponnese region of Greece. While CYA, like almost all study abroad programs, has a few optional trips on weekends scheduled that you can sign up and pay extra money for, they also schedule week long field trips around Greece, like this, whose costs are already configured into your tuition. They're lead by professors and, in complete honesty, are very educational, but they're also a blast, as you get to travel with your friends on the program and go places in Greece that would be difficult to access on your own without a car, like Olympia, Sparta, and Nafplio. From someone who has studied abroad on another program, these 2 week-long trips really set CYA apart from any other study abroad company that I know. Additionally, they handled the coronavirus situation very well. They kept us in Greece as long as they could, but were also accommodating of students who chose to leave earlier. The communication on their end was clear: We're a family, and we want you to stay in Athens just as much as you do, but your safety is first and even when you go home, you'll still be part of the family. Being in Greece, a place that has handled the situation incredibly well so far, I was able to stay abroad as long as was physically possible, and all of the professors were kind and understanding upon my return home. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: CYA was the program to be abroad with during the crisis. Overall, my experience with CYA was wonderful, and I'd encourage anyone else thinking about studying abroad with them to go for it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of every minute! and every museum!
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Kelli, thank you for your positive review of CYA. We too love our study tours for their academics but also because it is so fun exploring Greece through our students' eyes. Thank you for looking at the semester with a positive lens, whil eno one expected the semester to go the way it did, we hope you will come back and visit Athens soon. Remember to keep in touch, we'll always be your CYA family.

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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had such an amazing time that I was absolutely crushed to return home due to the COVID19 pandemic. It was clear that the CYA staff truly cared and I still receive daily emails from professors hoping that their students are well. The classes are very hands on and informative. The program also provides 2 weeks of travel throughout Greece with the program which provided me with valuable knowledge regarding Greek culture and history.

The apartments are singles and doubles located conveniently near CYA. I had a very spacious single with my own balcony! Any time there was an issue with the apartment CYA would respond that day.

Greek food is absolutely amazing and Athens also has restaurants with all types of food (and not just Greek food). The pricing is also extremely reasonable in Greece. If I went out for a gyro it would typically lost less than 3 euros.

For those who do not know Athens is a HILLY city and CYA has an urban location. This was my first time living in an urban area, but CYA facilitated a smooth transition and I always felt safe and comfortable.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do not expect to make best friends the first day, or even week. Studying abroad is a big, scary decision. Everyone else feels that same pressure too. Take the time to put yourself out there, be yourself, and don't be afraid to try new things!
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Genevieve
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I highly recommend this program! I learned so much both inside and outside the classroom. The location is perfect and my professors, particularly my archaeology ones, conducted classes on site. I learned so much about Greece through both mandatory and optional field trips that CYA provides, and they helped me locate unique extracurricular opportunities such as a marble-carving class! I lived with a host family which provided me with an immersive cultural experience and delicious home-cooked Greek food. The faculty and staff greatly care about the students and do everything to give us the most fun and educational experience possible. I made plenty of friendships that last even now that I'm back home, and I am grateful to have such an unforgettable experience!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Fully take advantage of everything CYA offers! The optional trips are worth signing up for, and all the extra emails from CYA about cultural opportunities are definitely worth taking a look at. The staff are very approachable so if you are looking for a specific thing to do in Greece, ask them and they will want to help you!
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Genevieve, thank you so much for your review of CYA! We are happy to hear that you took advantage of all of the extracurriculars CYA offers its students. We hope you visit Greece again in the future and remember to keep in touch.

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Liv
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

College Year in Athens provided me with the best study abroad experience possible! I made so many incredible friends, saw so many unbelievable places, and learned so many amazing things! I recommend this program to all students, and cannot talk it up enough!

I was academically stimulated the whole time, in an array of subjects that I found interesting. All of the staff and administration are so supportive and I'm still in touch with several people from the program! The entire experience was enriching and accommodating!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of every extracurricular you can - travel among the islands, take a cooking class, go to the farmers' market! Everything you do will be a brand new experience, and one you will never forget!
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Liv, thank you for your positive review of CYA. CYA prides itself on having unique and stimulating classes so we are happy to hear that you felt academically stimulated in your classes. Please remember to stay in touch and we hope you visit Athens and Greece again!

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Erin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CYA's "Anthropology of the City: Exploring Modern Athens" winter term class was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken. Classes rarely took place in the physical classroom - instead CYA took full advantage of its convenient location in the heart of the city and sent us out with our professor to explore it. We analyzed different spaces all over the city from neighborhood farmers markets and shopping malls, to street art in political neighborhoods and even Greek nightlife in one of Athens’ party districts. This class is the perfect blend of academics with fun and adventure, and taught me that there isn’t a single space in the city that can’t be the site of interesting anthropological research. This class would appeal to students with a wide variety of interests, including not only Anthropology but also Urban Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Architecture - or simply anyone interested in learning about what life in Athens is like. As someone who spent winter term and the following semester with CYA, this class was the perfect introduction to my time in Athens and the lessons I learned from it about Greek culture and what it meant to be an Athenian were invaluable to me. The Anthropology of the City class fits a lot of material and adventures into a short period of time, so even if you are not staying for the semester, I guarantee you will still get a lot out of this short but sweet study abroad experience with CYA.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
While taking the Anthropology of the City course, I found that I had a lot of free time. I would advise future students of this program to take advantage of your short time in Athens, as there is so much to see and experience. Conquer jet lag early, and don't spend much time in the apartments. Get out and explore while you can!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA - Study in Greece (Semester Program)
Greece
9.58 •50 reviews

CYA has offered study abroad programs in a wide range of academic...

CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA - Study in Greece (Summer Program)
Greece
9.8 •20 reviews

Soak-up summer in Greece! Students interested in short term, intensive...

CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA - Study in Greece (Academic Year Program)
Greece
9.83 •6 reviews

CYA has offered study abroad programs in a wide range of academic...

CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA - Study in Greece (Winter/ J-Term Program)
Greece
10 •1 review

CYA’s Winter intersession program offers classes in Anthropology or...

CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA Virtual Internships
Greece

CYA has been overseeing internships and volunteerism for students for...

CYA (College Year in Athens)
CYA - Gap Year Program in Greece
Greece

CYA’s Fall 2020 Gap Program, Learning from the Ancients: a Hands-on...

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.

Vasso Matrakouka

Job Title
Short Term Programs Manager
Vasso Matrakouka was born and raised in Athens. She studied Travel and Tourism Management in the School of Tourism in Anavyssos, Greece. She also holds a B.A. in Human Communication from the University of Indianapolis Athens Campus. After working for several years in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in Greece and Europe, Vasso joined CYA in 2011 where she is managing the Short Term Programs Department coordinating study travel as well as faculty led programs.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I have fond memories of my trip to Portugal. I participated in an exchange program of Dundee College when I was studying in Scotland. We spent 2 weeks in Setubal and Lisbon where we visited the World Expo 1998, and enjoyed camping, mountain biking, wine tasting, sailing and learning from local students and faculty all about the wonderful culture of this beautiful country which is in many ways similar to Greece. I was 21 years old and that trip, along with the year I spent in Scotland, opened my heart and mind and made me fall in love with traveling.

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

When I started working for CYA, about 9 years ago, I was amazed by the people, the premises, the organization and the care that everyone put in their work so that CYA students and faculty led program participants have a fulfilling and memorable experience. In the first six months I had fallen in love with my work and everything about CYA. CYA became a base, a stable family, that gave me a sense of belonging where I was trusted and supported. I feel blessed to have such a strong support in my working environment as it has helped me flourish and mature in many ways in my personal life.

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

The most exiting stories come from students who, when they arrived in Athens, were away from home for the first time, not certain on what to expect or how to continue with their academic and working careers but following one semester or a full year at CYA they managed to find orientation and meaning by discovering a talent, a theme for research, a new science that they would like to serve and because of this they decided to make a major but fulfilling change in their life which became the starting point for their future excellence. This is what makes CYA is a life changing experience!

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

I would certainly choose the brand new Gap program we created for this fall!
Learning from the Ancients: a Hands-on Approach to Life from the Ancient Times to Today's Healthy Living is a solid 10 week program on Greek language, culture and history. Participants will spend 5 weeks at an Athenian seaside excavation site learning next to Greek university students and under the instruction and supervision of CYA faculty and the director of the excavation. The rest of the time will be spent visiting Athenian landmarks and points of cultural interest, learning Greek and traveling within Greece. Lastly, participants will spend a week on the island of Kos at the "Ancient House Hippocrates Garden" where they will learn how to plant and tend herbs and coexist in harmony with cedar trees, vineyards, and the fruit bearing trees of the garden under the guidance of Julie Zafeiratou, the owner of the garden.

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

The uniqueness of CYA lies in the people who work for CYA: first-rate faculty who are distinguished in their field of study and research and who, each in their unique way, guide students through their classes and study travel to discover and love Greece and it's wonderful culture. We have a team of CYA staff who are always available to provide support, assistance, guidance, numerous tips and ideas for exploration and a loving word when that is most needed. We are a team and we love what we do! I felt especially proud of the Short Term Programs team and the greater CYA team when we hosted the Cedar Crest College sophomore expedition to Athens in March 2019 with 165 participants. Also, it was a superb experience and we were all thrilled when CYA hosted the 3rd European Conference of the Forum on Education Abroad in 2016.

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

Under the shadow of the pandemic that has turned the world and our lives upside down and has shaken our sense of stability, I strongly believe that the biggest factor for success is flexibility that goes along with adaptation and adjustment to whatever each day brings. In order to be flexible you need a solid and stable base which you can in a sense "expand" but where you can always return to and from there move on again to the future step. The next and equally important ingredient for the success of any company, are the people who comprise it and breath in life to each and every little thing that makes the company actually be. CYA has both these ingredients!

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