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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Zoe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Junior Semester Abroad

I went abroad to Athens with CYA this past fall (2021) and it was truly the most wonderful experience of my life. I am a sociology major and although archaeology and classics are their specialties, I was able to engage in sociological research and take classes with two very qualified sociology professors. I am also interested in going into law and the program was able to match me up with a firm to do an English speaking internship this coming summer. The apartments were great, clean, and close to CYA and the field studies were incredible opportunities. My favorite field study was to Meteora, which is a group of monasteries that perch on rocks at cloud level. The views are otherworldly. For such a small country, Greece has so much to offer from Mountains with snowy peaks, to deserts and beautiful seascapes. Whether you choose to stay in Greece and explore the cyclades islands or to travel outside the country at some point, you will never run out of new and exciting experiences. Athens is a friendly city full of life with many free activities such as ice skating or a burger festival. The friendships you make here will be lifelong ones and the memories you make you will cherish forever. My only piece of advice is to be careful about not falling too deeply in love with Athens because you may never want to come back!

What was your funniest moment?
The many memories I created with my friends during our trips
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Zoe, thanks for sharing your experience with us! We're happy to hearing that you had unforgettable memories, and that you got the most out of your coursework in Greece. Thanks for sharing your semester abroad with CYA!

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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable and Amazing

Everything about my time at CYA was a complete dream. Going abroad was a nerve-racking experience, but CYA made it feel exciting and fulfilling from the get-go. The courses were fascinating and each one I took benefited directly from being in Athens, incorporating the museums and sites of the city into the course material. More than that, though, CYA helped me to have an unforgettable cultural experience in Greece. I was able to meet and speak to Athenian residents and learn about Greek culture from the inside. I felt truly immersed in Greek life, especially since the accommodations are right in the city. Even though I was there during the Pandemic, I wouldn't trade my experience for the world, and it was a time full of amazing people, sights, and stories. I can truly say that I got to experience Greece and that I am just as in love with it as I hoped.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make the most of your time in Greece! Yes, you're there to study, but you're also in a beautiful country full of rich history. Go to the museums and sites in Athens, travel to other parts of the country, and immerse yourself in the culture. It's a great place to broaden your horizons both academically and culturally.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Emily, we're happy to hear that your time with CYA was an unforgettable experience. It sounds like you got a lot out of having Greece as your textbook!

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Kayla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

College Year in Athens

Spending my Fall semester in Athens with College Year in Athens was the best decision for me. Even though I studied abroad during a pandemic, I was still able to travel all around mainland Greece and some islands. Living in Athens was an unbeatable experience. The housing was fantastic; my three roommates and I shared a spacious and clean apartment that was located in a young and fun neighborhood. We were within walking distance of the College Year in Athens academic buildings, good restaurants, bars, stores, and pharmacies. My classes were not only interesting but also gave me the opportunity to visit famous museums that housed art and archaeological finds from around the Mediterranean. Field study trips combined learning and traveling throughout Greece and we were able to explore Delphi, Crete, and the Peloponnese. Additionally, the faculty, staff, and fellow students were always excited to help, teach, and learn from one another. Overall, the program was a great mix of fun and education that let me explore a country I have always wanted to live in.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I went bungee jumping in the Corinthian canal with my roommate, Jamie. I wasn't nervous because I was too busy trying to calm her down.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Kayla, we're so excited that you enjoyed your semester! It sounds like you got the most out of your experience, like exploring Greece and engaging in school trips. Thanks for studying abroad with CYA!

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Olly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Experience

I came to CYA as a freshman. I had never even been to college, and I was sad to leave my family, and I was nervous to see what my time in Greece would hold. I was praying that the four months I would spend in Greece would fly by. Now I wish they had never ended. CYA and Greece are places that I will forever call home. The people I met, the experiences I had, the food that I ate, and the love that I shared will forever leave an imprint on my heart. Thank you, CYA staff and administration, for giving me the chance to live life in a new and exciting way.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Climbing Mount Olympus was one of the scariest, but coolest things I did while in Greece. !0/10 recommend.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Olly, we're so happy that you spent the semester with us! We're hoping you make it back to Greece sometime in the future. Either way, keep in touch with us!

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Jackie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Way to Experience Greece!

As a Junior, choosing to go abroad through CYA during a pandemic was the best choice I could have made. Instead of sitting in zoom classes on campus, I was able to safely explore Greece and reignite my passion for my major through this program. The classes got me directly on-site to learn about all of the famous ancient locations located throughout Greece firsthand. Not only did I get to walk through Delphi, Olympia, and Athens itself learning about the discoveries made at these historically important places, but I also had the opportunity to independently travel throughout the semester to islands like Mykonos and Paros purely to enjoy the culture and scenery. The program allowed me the freedom to explore Greece and Europe on my own, but they also offered information and support whenever I needed. Absolutely go abroad through CYA if you get the chance because I would not trade the experiences I had here for the world!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Save beforehand! It is so easy here to get wrapped up in all of the activities and travels that spending money becomes second nature. You can absolutely spend at least $100/week without traveling and shopping, so you should definitely save up and budget.
Response from CYA (College Year in Athens)

Hi Jackie, thanks for leaving us a review! We're so happy that you had the opportunity to safely explore Greece and reignite your passion for your major! Hoping you can make it back to Greece someday- keep CYA updated!

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.

Rachael Bittick

Job Title
Student Advisor & Ambassador Program Coordinator
Rachael Bittick joined the CYA North American team in May 2021. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, she dove head first into exploring Student Affairs within the field of Higher Education. As an enthusiastic and passionate Fall 2017 alumna, she proudly represented CYA as a Campus Representative during our Fall 2019 fair season. She is thrilled to be back in the CYA family and is looking forward to working with students as they prepare to embark on their study abroad adventure!
Rachael Bittick

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is the last day I was in Athens, after spending a fall semester at CYA. I was saying my goodbyes to the local cafe owners, when I found myself deep in a conversation about what I most loved and admired about Greek culture. I emphasized how much I appreciate the way Greeks tend not to fear living life to the fullest. As rain poured down the slick marble sidewalks, and clouds loomed above, Dimitri responded, "We Greeks do not fear life because we do not fear death." It was a very cathartic way of wrapping up my CYA experience and it's a thought I've carried with me ever since.

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

Since I first began working for CYA in the fall of 2019, I have grown much more confident in my skills as an independent traveler. I have become very comfortable with planning travel itineraries, traveling on my own, and problem-solving in challenging travel-based situations. I have also learned a lot about communication and teamwork within the world of international education, which continues to help me grow as a Student Advisor.

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

The best story I've heard from a returning student is based on the remark of a student who attended our program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reported that the very first day the Acropolis reopened, she and her friends were able to visit the site almost completely by themselves, without the presence of tourists. In a reflection, she wrote, "While COVID-19 took a lot of things away from our semester, it also allowed us to see Athens in a more special and personal way." It brings me joy to know that even when faced with the hardest of obstacles, this student was still extremely impacted by the city of Athens and the experiences she had during her time with CYA.

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

I would choose the full Academic Year program so that I could explore Greece in the fall and spring seasons, and so that I would have a full 8-9 months to experience everything Greece has to offer! Having spent a fall semester in Greece, I wish I could have stayed another 4 or 5 months so that I could also take part in several of the national Greek holidays that take place during the spring semester. You can pack A LOT into one semester with CYA and if I could attend one of our programs again, I would opt to attend the full Academic Year so as to immerse myself even further into Greek culture!

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

What makes CYA unique is its incredibly dedicated and passionate staff and faculty. Not only did CYA manage to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they also worked tirelessly to continue educating not only students, but those among their social media following as well. This team really cares about providing students with quality, meaningful education and an international experience filled with exploration and growth.

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

I believe communication and empathy are the biggest factors that contribute to being a successful company. Everyone communicates differently and being able not only to listen, perceive, and relate empathetically, but also to adapt to others' styles of communicating, is vital in a field that promotes cultural immersion and diversity. This sense of adaptable and empathetic communication is conducive to a positive, productive work environment, as well as the foundation of good relationships with the institutions and students with whom we collaborate.

Professional Associations