CYA

CYA (College Year in Athens)

About

CYA is a non-profit educational institution that offers semester, academic year, and summer study abroad programs in Greece. We offer an academically rigorous program of studies combined with the vibrant experience of day-to-day contact with the people, monuments, and landscape of Greece and the Mediterranean - a rapidly changing region with a uniquely varied past.

We place an emphasis on learning beyond the classroom, providing you with hands-on learning in the rich environment of Greece. Many classes are held on-site and many students participate in service learning, internships, and volunteering, adding a new dimension to learning and a global understanding of the subject.

CYA is dedicated to fostering personal discovery, growth, and cross-cultural sensitivity. Our ultimate goal is for you to return home academically inspired, intellectually stimulated, and with a passionate commitment to the furtherance of international and intercultural understanding.

Founded
1962
Headquarters

5 Plateia Stadiou
11635 Athens
Greece

Reviews

Blaike
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad with CYA was life-changing. This program made Athens feel like home. All of my professors really cared about their students, and worked endlessly to form personal connections and give us the best experiences possible. The field trips were super fun and informative, and the optional trips were well-priced and gave us chances to grow close as a program. Greek culture is warm, welcoming, and community based, and CYA completely embodies that! Program lunches every weekday are healthy and yummy. The school and apartments are in city center and within a 15 minute walk to the Acropolis! Pangrati, the district where the school and apartments are located, is very safe and has a great community scene complete with farmers markets and cool cafés. CYA and Greece in general provide so many opportunities to get outdoors compared to other programs- so if that's your cup of tea you can definitely seize those opportunities! The workload is manageable and there are lots of course offerings for both Classics and non-Classics majors! The administration was also incredibly kind and helpful in finding hair salons, buying concert tickets, or any other small detail to make students feel at home. Between the multiple times I was able to travel to other countries, and the many adventures I had all over Greece- this program increased my worldview and experience tenfold. Best semester ever!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take pictures and videos so you can remember what your friends' voices sound like, what that sunset at Sounio felt like, or capture the full glory of your gyro! Also: take the optional trips. I went on the Andros Island and Metsovo/Meteora/Ioannina trips, and I made some of my closest friends on those vacations, because they were for smaller and more tight-knit groups of students. And take the time to talk to professors and staff- they're some of the coolest people you'll meet abroad!
Ariel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

College Year in Athens gave me the best semester of my entire life. From the exciting weekend trips to daily class visits to the Ancient Acropolis, I had a life changing experience at least once a week. Learning about ancient history while standing in the place where it took place was simply awe-inspiring. I had a lot of "pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming" moments during my semester in Athens, especially when one of my classes took us INSIDE the Parthenon. I loved the city of Athens so much and I loved my apartment even more. It truly felt like home by the end. Another thing that made my experience so special was the people who worked at CYA. I felt safe and cared for. The faculty and staff was always willing to help with any problem - anywhere from laundry to home sickness. They truly wanted me to love Greece as much as they did. Lunches were yummy and the main course always varied so it never got old. The CYA dining hall was a great place for socialization when my fellow classmates as well as professors. The culmination of all these things made my semester in Athens truly spectacular. I am so thankful that I chose CYA.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-wracking moment was summiting Mount Olympus! The path was perilous but the thought of getting to the top helped me push through. The view from the top was spectacular and fulfilled all my childhood Percy-Jackson-related dreams.
Sophia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

While at CYA I had the opportunity to take classes and do things I would not have gotten elsewhere. I was able to get immersed into the Greek culture quickly. The staff was so helpful and helped me get an amazing volunteer opportunity. CYA gave me an experience that allowed me to grow as a person. I never realized how much I could learn being in a different country. Everyone in Greece are so friendly and wants to help you succeed. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who wants to experience a new culture

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go everywhere. Being in Europe gives you such great opportunities to travel all over. Although to is nice to be in Athens on weekends and explore there, the opportunity is there for you to go elsewhere. Explore throughout the week in Athens then travel on weekends. The 4-day weeks really allow for you to be able to go anywhere.
Veda
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CYA was an amazing experience and it has truly been life changing for me. The administration was so careful and aware of our needs and the orientation sessions, though tedious, were helpful when it came to navigating but still saying safe in Athens. CYA gave me the opportunity to travel Greece and visit parts of the country I would not have had access to otherwise, both through mandatory and optional trips. The perfect location sealed the deal on CYA being the place for me. Being across the street from the Panathenaic Stadium and within walking distance of major historic sites is something that not many can say.
I wish there had been more on campus activities where people can meet others with similar interests that they go to school with. Regardless, though my biggest worry beforehand was finding people I connected with, it was not as difficult as I believed and there was a friend group for everyone! I found that having friends with similar interests really improves traveling, exploring, and the CYA experience over all. Bonding with my fellow students came easiest on the optional trips that were offered on weekends through CYA. Usually, it was an intimate group of 20 to 30 students that would participate and you got to know everyone else very well.
In Athens, and at study abroad and general, it was so important to go out and explore! During the first few weeks especially, I felt as though I didn't really know the area so making it a point to explore, not just Pangrati, but further out as well, was a great option. In the CYA handbook, there was a list of many places listed that we could visit within walking distance. Beyond that, Nadia was sure to email us upcoming festivals and surrounding popular cafes, promoting interacting with the locals (while also allowing us to practice our Greek!). Overall, this is definitely an experience I wish I could revisit. I have developed a newfound love of Greece (both the culture and the food) and plan to return for sure!

What would you improve about this program?
More school guided exploration in the first weeks.
Marissa
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best part of living in Athens is the accessibility students have to a multitude of activities. Museums are dispersed throughout the city and allow you to better understand the history of Greece and the cultures nearby that have influenced the country.
At night, Ghazi offers a different experience. The night life was always fun and the clubs were welcoming to Americans.
Unique and beautifully decorated restaurants are scattered throughout Athens. Syntagma was my favorite place to shop and find new cafes.
The beach is only a twenty minute cab away!
I was never bored in Athens!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take a Modern Greek class! Your experience will be so much more authentic and immersive if you talk to natives in Greek.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Hayley Segall

Hayley is a student at Oberlin College (class of 2020) majoring in religion and double minoring in politics and rhetoric & composition. She is passionate about her career path in interfaith/intercultural communication and perceives traveling as one of the best and most privileged ways to educate herself and make tangible connections with people of various cultures and backgrounds.

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.

Bridge Kiley

Job Title
Administrative Support Coordinator
Bridge lived and worked in Athens, Greece through the Fulbright Foundation 2015-2016 and studied abroad as an undergraduate in Galway, Ireland in 2011. Bridge works part-time at CYA, while also doing mental health clinical and doula work (doula is a Greek word meaning "person who provides emotional support during childbirth").

Why did you choose this program?

The travel experiences with family and friends while I lived in Greece were unforgettable! One travel memory highlight is taking the train to Meteora (Central Greece) with my grandparents. The tremendous rock formations with ancient monasteries atop them were breathtaking and we hiked down from the rock formations.

A few other highlights include traveling with my parents to the island of Crete and explored ancient ruins and wineries, I went with my sister and friend to Zakynthos where we took a boat ride around the island amongst vibrant blue waters to visit the famous beach with a shipwreck, and I ran a half-marathon in the Peloponnese at the original site of the Olympics with a good friend.

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

I have learned so much about the world of study abroad and higher education since joining College Year in Athens! It's been wonderful to see all the various pieces and efforts that go into supporting students having wonderful experience living, traveling and learning through study abroad in Athens and Greece.

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

When I lived in Greece, two of my friends in my program were graduates of College Year in Athens (CYA). They spoke so highly of the program and experience living in Greece and they had such a love of Greece that they returned to live in Greece again! That planted the seed for me knowing how highly the CYA students felt and spoke about their experience!

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

It's hard to choose from the great options. Greece overall is breathtaking, so opportunities to explore and experience the country through the field study or optional trips are amazing experiences. There are so many wonderful courses that I would also love to take! You also can't beat soaking up the sun in Greece during the summer program!

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

CYA was established in 1962 and it's the first study abroad program in Greece for English-speaking undergraduates!

Athens, Greece is an epicenter of history and culture, so living and studying in Athens is a unique experience that offers so much in the vibrant city with delicious eats. In our North American office, the team works hard to support the application process, relationships with Universities and preparations for students getting to Greece! I'm proud of all the efforts the team makes to make the CYA experience possible.

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

Success can be measured in so many ways. In my opinion, being student-centered is the biggest factor in the success of a study abroad company! Having support, resources and ultimately an engaging dynamic experience for students is what makes for success.

CYA goes above and beyond to support students and I feel that's essential for success.

Professional Associations