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) and Virtual Internships 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.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Best thing I did in college

I chose to study at CYA in the fall of my senior year of college and I'm so glad I did. I met a bunch of amazing people that I would have never met, and I feel like I really learned things about myself by going abroad that I wouldn't have known had I not (which sounds cliche but it is true.) Athens is a really great place to study if you plan to travel around Europe. There are lots of cheap flights from the airport and it's super easy to get there on the metro. I went to Milan and Istanbul while I was abroad, and also went to a bunch of Greek islands. CYA understands that people want to travel while abroad, and Jennifer and Angela from student affairs are super duper helpful and accommodating. I felt very safe and supported in everything, and they were there to make everything less stressful and answer any questions I had. I'd recommend CYA to anybody, but especially to archaeology students! This program is great for them because there are countless internship opportunities and volunteer opportunities that are super cool! I had many friends working at museums, theaters, social organizations and archaeology labs. It's a fantastic resume booster and you make some meaningful connections for later on.

  • Housing in apartments, not dorms
  • The neighborhood is awesome
  • The food is cheap and really good
  • To travel internationally you must fly - no trains
  • Hard to meet Greek college students
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Yes, I recommend this program

Chillin' with Athena

People ask me to sum up my experience, and I am often speechless. This truly was an outright positive experience for me. The staff and the administration were so helpful sending out weekly emails with places we would be interested in going. Moreover, the preplanned trips were the PERFECT way to immerese us into Greek culture. This program really does put the student and the student's experience first, and I think this is th emain reason I have fallen in love with Greece. The staff made sure to acknowledge, the fantastic, the good, the bad, and the ugly as it concerns living in Greece with varying identities. It was utterly phenomenal.

  • Preplanned trips
  • Helpful staff
  • Rude professors (not all of them, but a handful are not thee for the right reason)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Think about this place everyday.

CYA is an excellent program. I came into it expecting to learn certain things about myself, and it wasn't until I left that I realized that I had gained even more than that. The academics here are great, especially for an aspiring classicist or historian. The city is filled with so much to do at a generally affordable rate- with so much beauty on every corner. Most importantly to me, this program has made me realize how small and traversable this world is. I went from having never been on a plane in my life in June to spending my every weekend in a different section of Greece or in another country. It is exciting and often overwhelming in the moment when you step on the plane to new places so often, but it wasn't until I was home that I began to realize the lasting effects that three months in Greece had on me. I began to look at places all around me in the U.S. -even just my hometown- and think "why have I not been here?" and "why have I not done this?". Its hard for me to find myself bored anymore because I know how easy it is to just go out and do things.

  • School field trips
  • Great academics especially for people who like classics
  • Great neighborhood
  • Finals kinda come out of nowhere
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Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Experience

CYA was a great program that made my experience in Greece wonderful. The academics were manageable while also engaging and all my professors were fantastic. I loved the subjects of my classes as well as they were topics I had never really engaged with prior. My favorite aspect of the programs was the inculded trips to Crete, Delphi, and the Peloponeese. I loved the hands on learning envrioment CYA created. The trips and all the museum visits really added to my expience and made it unforgetable.

  • The Classes
  • The included trips
  • The food
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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

I was so nervous going into the program, I had never been out of the country for longer than a week and away from my family for so long. I am so glad that I went, I would not trade the experience for anything. I got to learn so much about my family's culture and experience a new world that I was not used to. I have made lifelong friends and memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life, I feel like I found a missing part of myself in Athens and it will always be a special place in my heart.

  • Experiencing a new culture
  • Amazing local food
  • Wonderful people
  • Very busy city
  • Loud!
  • a little chaotic


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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.

Claire Jeantheau

Job Title
Social Media Coordinator
Claire recently graduated from Dickinson College, majoring in classics and education and studying abroad with College Year in Athens in Fall 2019. After working with the CYA MediaLab while abroad, she interned with CYA, then began her current role, in Spring 2021.

What is your favorite travel memory?

The field study week I spent on Crete with CYA is a trip I won’t forget. I visited different archaeological and historical sites in the mornings, swam in the afternoons, and enjoyed long taverna meals and rambles with friends in the evening. In between, our bus took us through some of the most stunning seaside and mountain landscapes I’ve ever seen. It was a world away from what my home college’s classroom would’ve been like that fall!

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

My experience with CYA has taught me a lot about the international education field--specifically what the major trends are and the variety of programs available abroad for current students. Learning about these things has made me better able to share about opportunities with CYA--like virtual/in-person volunteering and internships--that fit with what students are looking for.

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

CYA had a student in Fall 2020 whose time in Greece was so meaningful that he decided to stay for nearly a year--next enrolling for the Spring 2021 semester, and then a summer course! This isn’t the first story I’ve heard about students extending their time with CYA, and I think it shows how compelling the ways of life and opportunities to learn in Greece can be.

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

I would love to take a summer course with CYA. I studied in Athens in the fall and mostly traveled on the mainland, so these courses--which often take place across multiple islands--would offer an experience with a whole new season and side of Greece. It would also be fun to branch out from my classics background and try a new course area, like food anthropology or travel writing.

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

I think CYA stands out from other study abroad programs because of its focus on immersion in life in Greece. Students can and do visit other countries across Europe while abroad with CYA because of the close travel distance. However, CYA encourages students to explore all regions of Greece through optional trips, and connects them to neighborhood life in Athens and cultural traditions. I’m proud of the recent work CYA has been doing in expanding social media and researching inclusion practices so that more students are aware of, and have access to, those opportunities.

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

Coming from my position and after working remotely for several months, I think communication is key. Last-minute ideas and problems always come up--most recently, during the coronavirus pandemic--that require people to communicate effectively. In addition to my team doing regular check-ins, I think CYA does a great job of following up with students and alumni who interact with us on social platforms.

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
Gap Year Association Logo