Why did you choose this program?
I have always been fascinated by anything Greek: history, culture, mythology, architecture, government, cuisine. Basically everything that makes Greece what it is, I find interesting, and when looking for a study abroad program, I couldn't find a more fitting place than Athens, the cultural center of democracy and philosophy in the ancient world. Athens was an amazing location for studying abroad and learning about the rich history and legacy of Greece. CYA's Academic Center was in the heart of it all, providing great access to both the historical and modern areas of the city.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
CYA provided a pre-departure orientation and information session via Zoom which helped prepare us for traveling and living abroad. The presentation informed us of what we should do upon arriving in Athens, and of what to expect from the program and our classes, and, most importantly, from living in Greece. We also heard from several alumni who offered advice and tips for how to adjust to living in a different country and how to make the most of our time abroad. We were also assigned an adviser who worked with us to ensure we completed all the necessary pre-departure steps, such as obtaining a valid passport, for a smooth travel experience.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and remember that you're only there for a couple of weeks or months, so make the best of it and enjoy it while it lasts. Also, don't be afraid to try new things and push outside your comfort zone, especially when it comes to food. You'll never know if that dish will be your new favorite if you don't try.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day usually begins with a breakfast run to a nearby café where the most delicious sweet and savory pastries, like bougatsa or spanakopita, are available for reasonable prices. Then, we'll head over to the Academic Center if we're meeting in a classroom for lecture. If we're out exploring that day, or out on a field study or study tour, we'll meet at a specified location near the Center and then walk over to whichever museum or archaeological site we're visiting for class. After class, which usually lasts between two and three hours, the rest of the day is ours, and we can explore the city, hike up to the Acropolis, go shopping in the Plaka, and basically do whatever we want. We'll finish the day by eating together at a local restaurant or taverna that serves traditional Greek cuisine.
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 adjusting to a completely new environment and living on my own in a foreign country. Prior to studying abroad, I had never traveled overseas and had never been to a different country outside of Canada, so I was nervous about what to expect and how to handle the culture shock I might experience. By meeting and talking with my peers, who soon became my friends, and by relying on CYA's support system, I was able to overcome this fear, and I soon found myself enjoying every moment. Now, I realize that culture shock is completely normal and that as classmates and friends, we were all experiencing the same things together and could mutually help each other adjust.
Write and answer your own question.
Greek food, in my opinion, really is some of the best in the world. Aside from the souvlaki and the baklava, the moussaka was delicious, and I usually never eat eggplant. The soutzoukakia was also very good, and I'll definitely miss not being able to eat delicious pastries for breakfast every morning. Still, even if you think you might not like something, try it. You won't regret it!