It would be an incredible feat if I could sit here and express all the gratitude and love I have for this country, its people, and the program that immersed me in all of it. My life changed because of my year in Greece, and College Year in Athens made that absolutely possible, with the best of their ability. It would have been so easy to let myself be sheltered in my little Pagkrati apartment, but CYA knows how to reach out to even the most shy of students. There was never any shortage of activities outside of schoolwork to immerse students in the culture: I went on hikes with a Greek hiking group most Sundays, and traveled to parts of Greece that most other students never see. I went sailing for three days around the Saronic islands, and I even got to sail to Mykonos. I tried Greek dancing (keyword, tried, but definitely enjoyed) and volunteered in the Agora archives and handled original 1930’s excavation notebooks! Then for the summer (because I couldn’t stand to leave after spring term ended), I became an au pair to a wonderful Greek family.
I packed years of experience into my single year in Greece, and all of that was done with guidance from CYA. They truly respect their students as adults, and that’s why the classes are also as engaging and diverse as they are. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had class on the Acropolis, but I know I’ve been inside the Parthenon twice because of those classes. With the care of one professor, I presented my first academic paper and performed in a comedy by Aristophanes. CYA even provides trips to Crete, Delphi, the Peloponnese, and Thessaloniki led by the wonderful professors who bring not only the ancient and modern history of the places, but also the personal familiarity and humor you can’t find with a typical tour guide.
Of course, since being back in the States, I miss the real Greek gyros and the strong coffee. I miss the friendliness of the shop owners who took personal interests in your life and helped you learn Greek along the way. I miss the weekly farmer’s markets that packed every fruit and vegetable you can imagine. I miss wandering the streets of Athens and using the Acropolis as a personal compass. And not even the last, certainly not the least, I miss the crystal waters of the Aegean. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until I’m back there again, and I encourage everyone to experience this same amazing, unforgettable adventure.