My experience with CYA was one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I would absolutely do it again, without question. In some sense, it’s hard to fully assess the benefits of studying abroad so close to my time abroad, but it is clear that the benefits of doing so are numerous.
I feel deeply grateful to have been able to visit places I have read about in my Classics courses for years, to see artifacts outside books, to get a whiff of the past while we walked along ancient roads, and to see the remnants of lives lived many years ago, which were not so unlike our own. The challenge the course posed to the dominance of Athenocentricity in Classics will be valuable as I move forward in my studies, but, perhaps the most meaningful part of the study abroad experience was just having the opportunity to leave my bubble and venture somewhere entirely new, which I felt even more deeply following the COVID-19 lockdowns. This is especially true as we see nationalism rising in waves across the world. Experiences like the one provided by CYA can help to counter ideologies that ask us to hate those that live beyond our borders. Participating in a program like CYA gives us space to stop and reflect on our place in this big, beautiful word of ours, and it nudges us to remember that there are people not unlike ourselves all over the world, and the awareness this brings is invaluable.
Upon arrival in Greece, I was immediately confronted by the fact that the people in Greece are exceptionally warm and kind, and they were willing to do whatever it took to help. The taxi drivers, the waiters and shop attendants, the locals I met walking around the city all went out of their way to make sure I was taken care of, and you will also probably find yourself receiving a lot of free food.