CYA (College Year in Athens)


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.


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:


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Yes, I recommend this program

When you submit a virtual internship application with CYA, it initially seems like a very vague process. They ask about your career interests and your CV. When I submitted my application in the Fall of 2020, it took some time before I heard back, but that's because they had tailored an internship to my specific career interests and things I was passionate about. What resulted was the most fulfilling virtual program I've ever participated in. I was matched with an anthropology professor and archaeology professor; the former helped me understand Greece better by sending me articles that we could discuss and by answering any questions I might have. The latter supervised the deliverables part of the internship: helping draw plans and illustrations of different archaeological sites from two different archaeology projects. This type of internship is very rare in archaeology for undergraduates, and it has been both a significant booster on my CV, but also an affirmation that I'm working towards a career path I find fulfilling. I even asked them for advice regarding careers in archaeology and both professors went out of their way to not only share their experiences but even reached out to their own colleagues to see what I should do. I feel like not only did I learn a lot and progress further in my career, but I earnestly looked forward to all of our meetings. In the year of Zoom, this was probably the only meeting I looked forward to, even if they were early. Because the internships are so specifically tailored to each individual's career interests, I would say this is an experience that's more than worth it, until we're able to travel again. I look forward to physically being at CYA but in the meantime I highly recommend people take advantage of their virtual program.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time with CYA when I went abroad. The program emphasizes independence and Greece is a beautiful country to explore on your own. While you have a lot to learn in the classroom, (especially with on-site lectures) the best learning is with the three days you have off every week. I would 100% recommend taking solo adventures, especially if you're someone who craves adventure. The first weekend, I went by myself to Meteora and met some of the most incredible fellow travelers! I really found myself when I went abroad.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was followed by a man who only spoke Greek when I went to Crete. He kept on begging my for a selfie, but my group of friends managed to run away!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad in Greece with CYA was one of the best decisions I've made. The staff work around the clock to make the best experience possible for us. With on-site classes that take you into the museums and archaeological sites, you truly have a hands-on experience. We lived right in the heart of Athens within walking distance to all major sights and attractions. The professors were so welcoming and put so much effort into making our experience. CYA took us on field studies to Delphi, Meteora, Crete, and the Peloponnese Region, which were definitely highlights of the semester. You truly are able to connect with the local people, especially as you start to learn and be able to communicate in Greek. I am so glad that I decided to go abroad with CYA.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of every opportunity you get - traveling, trying new foods, and taking different classes and workshops. Also, take Modern Greek while you're there! It really helps you navigate the city and communicate with the people.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Jennifer, Thank you for your positive review of CYA! We are happy to hear that you truly enjoyed our onsite classes and academic field study trips to Delphi, Peloponnese, and Crete this semester! Stay safe this spring and come back and visit soon!

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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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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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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.

Cheyenne Paulson

Job Title
Campus and Student Relations Coordinator
Cheyenne started working in her current role with CYA January 2020. However, she is not new to CYA as she attended the program in 2015 and spent Fall 2018 with CYA representing the program at study abroad fairs across the country and Summer 2019 onsite in Greece as a MediaLab intern.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is while I studied abroad with CYA in 2015, I took part in the Excavating in the Aegean class. While the class involved excavating on a real archaeological excavation, the memories with my classmates both on the excavation and off are ones I will never forget. We hiked the nearby hills of the island we were staying on, spent endless hours at the beach, and ate fresh seafood everyday. It was a blissful time and I remember it so fondly.

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

Since I started working with CYA in 2018, I have grown immensely. I finished grad school and developed new skills in the field of international education. I have become a representative who can speak highly of the program as well as giving my personal experiences in Greece. I have thought intellectually about what makes CYA a successful program and hope to continue to grow with the company!

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

I've had several interactions with CYA alumni, however, my favorites revolve around the students I met the following summer (2016) while excavating in Romania. While in Romania, I met several other CYA alums and we all bonded over our experiences of Athens and Greece. Each had amazing stories about their times in Athens, hiking Mount Olympus, volunteering at the Ancient Agora, and spending countless hours at Kekkos drinking coffee and doing homework! While none of us were in Athens at the same time, all of our stories seemed to be shared and we bonded over how much we missed Greece and CYA.

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

I would say that my biggest regret from undergrad was not attending CYA for a full semester. While the summer was great and it fit perfectly with my academic schedule, I left longing to return and wish I could have added a semester to my summer abroad. I wish that I could have taken the Topography in Athens course and the Ancient Greek Sports classes. Outside of Classics, I would have loved to take a sustainability course or an economics course as well!

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

As one of the leaders in Greek study abroad programs, I think CYA is unique because of its academics and experiential learning opportunities. CYA aims to take its students out of the classroom as much as possible, and we continue to make the program even more immersive. I am proud of CYA and study abroad in Greece as a whole when I look at the Open Doors reports and see how much study abroad within Greece is growing! It makes me happy to see students interested in Greece and CYA!

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

I think that the biggest factor in being a successful company is ones ability to adapt to changes in student needs and interests. When CYA started it was a Classical Studies Center, now CYA has grown to include disciplines such as Environmental Studies, Psychology, Economics, Political Science and more! Adaptability is key and I strongly believe that any successful company must be able to understand not just the obvious needs, but also the needs that may not be immediately apparent but could lead to a positive international experience.

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