Athena Study Abroad Program at HISA on Paros Island, Greece

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About

The picturesque island of Paros is considered to be one of Greece's most beautiful island treasures. Paros' traditional villages of white-washed houses, narrow streets, flowered balconies, blue domed churches and hilly, vineyard-covered countrysides create the perfect backdrop for a study abroad experience of historic proportions.

With Greece's artistic history, it is fitting that Athena's partner school on Paros Island is the Hellenic International Studies in the Arts. HISA is strong in the humanities, offering such courses as history, philosophy, literature, painting, and photography, many of which take place on historical sites.

Athena Study Abroad also organizes trips to other Greek islands, like Naxos, Antiparos, Santorini, Mykonos, and Delos, so that exploring them will be easy and fun!

Highlights
  • The inentionally small nature of the program allows teachers to provide customized academic and developmental guidance to each individual student.
  • Each semester cultimates with a community showcase in which students have the opportunity to exhibit their semester's work to the island community.
  • Explore Paros, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea renowned for its traditional villages and beaches. It is small enough to retain the authentic Greek culture while having an active island community.
  • Go on sightseeing trips to Delos, Mykonos, Naxos, Santorini, and other famous destinations in Greece!

Questions & Answers

My program had 11 students!

Reviews

98%
based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 8.5
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
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Teagan
10/10

Spring Semester in Paros

My time on Paros was one of the best times of my life. There was never a dull moment in the trip and it was full of adventures. Because of the small program size I was able to bond with my classmates and get to know all of them on a more personal level. I made some lifelong friends on the trip and that’s something that makes me very happy. The professors are very chill and want you to do well. They are open to suggestions and are very understanding. They are willing to work with you to make sure you get the most out of the program. Throughout the program you have 24 hour access to the studios and classrooms. This was very helpful when there were late night and early morning work sessions. Greek people are very curious about art and would often stop and watch us as we painted or drew.

The walk to school is right along the water. This gives you a front row seat to the ferries coming and leaving the port. You can watch shops start to open up around Easter and as the summer season comes closer. The island has no shortage of things to do. There are plenty of beaches to walk to and cafes to chill in. The night life on the island is very relaxed and bars are open until late in the night. The local shop owners quickly recognize you as a regular and are incredibly friendly and start conversations. It wasn’t long before my favorite coffee shop knew my order as soon as I walked in the door.

Over a month into the three month program my phone fell off the ferry into the Aegean Sea. Because of this I was able to immerse myself more in the culture and program than I would’ve if I was still connected at the hip with my phone. Instead of taking pictures of everything I saw, I focused on the beauty of what was in front of me. Every time I was waiting for food or coffee I would look out at the sea instead of playing a game of solitaire on my phone or texting. It provided a refreshing detox for me.

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a semester on Paros. My confidence grew and I realized that I am capable of more than I thought. This trip was very inspiring for me and it showed in my artwork and writing. Paros really became a second home to me and I can’t wait to plan my next trip back.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Patrick
10/10

Greek Life

The academic program here was exceptional, I received plenty of help and attention from my teachers, in each of my classes. In studio classes I got personalized guidance and meaningful answers, and classrooms topics were easy to get into and understand.
The program leads an excursion to other towns and islands almost every weekend, which is a great way to experience the Cycladic Island life, and a great way to get to know fellow students. We went to museums, explored archaeology sites, and took long hikes through both the countryside and old town streets. All of it was worthwhile.
Personally, I spent a lot of time relaxing on the beaches within walking distance of the apartments, or drinking too many iced cappuccinos in cafes. Between getting coffees there's plenty of options for food (gyros are affordable and delicious). I would definitely recommend the vegetable market (so many different veggies, all easily within anyone's budget). There's plenty of options for eating out, too, at a full price range.
All of these cafes and restaurants are obviously run by greeks, and most speak English much better than I speak Greek, but making an effort goes a long with with getting to know the locals.
The teachers here will work with you on a personal level, and will do all that they can to help you succeed in your own way. The local Greek life is something I hope to return to. The Cyclades have an vast and tangible history, and the sea and mountains are just as beautiful. Paroikia is a wonderful place to grow as an artist and a person, but for me the greatest part is the chance to experience three months in an exciting new place with people from all over the U.S. and beyond. The program is a great academic step to take, but my greatest take-away was the time I spend making friends.

How can this program be improved?
It would be nice to have a longer program!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Olivia
10/10

A Home Away From Home

The summer after my first year of college, I decided to study abroad on Paros Island in Greece. Many thought I was crazy for going with a third party, not knowing any students on the program. However, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only was the program within my budget, but it was the experience of a lifetime. I was able to travel to several different islands and learn about each unique culture and history that still lived in the structures and the museums of the people. I ate fresh fish, dakos, and baklava by the completely clear, transparent water. I painted, wrote about, and photographed my beautiful island for my photography, creative writing, and art classes. Most importantly, I met the most wonderful people, both in my program and on the islands, who I am glad to still call friends. I cannot imagine how different my life would be if I had not studied with Athena in Paros. I would not have met my best friend Ming, a student on the program whom I studied abroad again with in Hawaii. I would not have met Lane, another student who met me in London while I was an intern and he was backpacking Europe. I would not have met Roxani, a local store owner who recommended that I visit her friend's restaurant on Kos while I was visiting after Paros. The list goes on and on... My life is daily impacted by my 2 months in Greece, and I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is prepared to fall in love with Greece more and more every day.

How can this program be improved?
I do not know if I was added to the group's Facebook page when I first signed up for the program. It would be good to make this clear to incoming participants and make sure everyone is included!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Nhan
10/10

All About Journey and Destination

When I have gotten the acceptance letter from Athena Study Abroad, my heart and mind was racing fast. I felt so happy, I could not think of anything else that could make me any happier. I was wrong. I have not traveled much for the purpose of adventure, only for work, moving homes, or visiting family. I have traveled many times and not once, I have felt so relieved, carefree and so much self love. I was given the opportunity to expand my understanding of myself and others by being abroad. It forced me to be out of my comfort zone and become more independent. I am always excited to learn new cultures and meet new people so that I could understand how beautiful the world can be, and this trip intensified that. I also traveled all over Asia and have not been to Europe. Culturally and emotionally, this was a life changing experience. This was a great opportunity for me to explore other cultures than those of my own.
In addition, I also learned the ways and values of other cultures. For example, most Greek people was extremely welcoming and caring for my friends and I abroad. They taught us the language, showed how to get home and to other places, and ALWAYS treat us with such great hospitality. Before then, I only thought only family treat each other this lovingly. I guess family was the right word being in Greece.
The people was the best thing, but the place is most definitely second best. I get to travel and witness so many beautiful animals, florals, and lands. The places is so captivating, I have forgotten to take pictures! luckily, I have wonderful instructors and friends who did that for me.
I am also an Art major and my style of art can be enhanced by Greek's art tremendously. Being in a place where Art is Prominent will make me learn and understand more of my strength and weaknesses. I became more open minded in my artwork due to this trip. Being on Paros Island gave me the opportunity to become more creative and innovative in the way I interpret my Artwork. I feel that walking 20 miles is better than reading 20 books, for being in Greece made me learn more and experience more than I did in my hometown. Especially the instructors, when I came to class, I was greeted and treated with such great care and value. Once, I asked my instructor for help on an artwork and she not only taught me how to fix it, but she held my hand that was holding the brush and physically showed me the technique! I was so shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of understanding and care. Those teachers only come once in a lifetime and I felt extremely lucky. Also, I was excited and happy that I get to meet new friends from around the world who are studying the same classes as me. I get to hear about their life their stories and their love. We got to know each other and it felt like I was their friends since birth. It was amazing how we value same ideas yet are not afraid to share our own ideas and become inspired by one another. We cook and ate together most times, travel, and studied together. A place where everyone was my best friend and I was theirs.
By the end of this trip, I could thoroughly say that I have learned more, lived more, and felt more passionate. I wanted to let upcoming and undecided travelers know that this is not something to be missing out. We might leave behind the things we like, but we pick up the things we value. Your heart will change and your mind will bloom. The only time you should feel unsure is when you leave Greece, not enter. Be excited, be hopeful, and be active!

How can this program be improved?
I believe that this program should have more students. And should be longer. I feel that the longer the program is the more emerged we will become with the culture. I felt like I did learn and understood much but If there was even another month, I could have learned and understood enough. In addition, it would be of more interest if there were more courses offered. However, the courses now are satisfactory.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Courtney
10/10

Paros Truly is Paradise

Studying abroad through Athena was my first major trip over seas- prior, I had been to Jamaica with my family for a few days, but primarily stayed within the resort. That trip left me wanting to truly experience and immerse myself in a new country and culture, so I began to scour the internet for a study abroad program. However, finding the right program proved to be difficult for me. I am a Communications Sciences and Disorders major, which makes it difficult to study abroad and take relevant courses. After a year of meeting with study abroad advisors and googling different programs and the classes they offered, I felt disappointed and thought my dreams of going abroad would never become a reality. That is when my friend mentioned Athena Study Abroad to me. She mentioned their incredibly unique programs and how they offered courses that may not align with my major, but that would prove to be a once in a lifetime experience. She could not have been more right. I ultimately decided to take an introductory painting course through the Paros program as a free elective. I was filled with both excitement and nerves- I had absolutely no painting experience, I had never traveled alone before, and I also applied without knowing other participants going on the trip. The trip was filled with a lot of unknowns and a lot of firsts for me, which is why it was one of the best experiences of my life. What made this program so amazing was that I got to learn while exploring Greece. From learning to paint while sitting on a rock by the ocean, to learning about Greek mythology as we hiked through ancient caves and explored various islands, this program utilizes the outdoors as your classroom. The teachers were also incredibly talented, kind, and patient. In my painting course, there were about six of us with ranging levels of painting skills. Some of the students were studying art at their universities, some painted as a hobby, and some were like me. This fostered an amazing learning environment where the teacher was able to adjust her expectations and lessons for each student's skill level, and the less skilled students (a.k.a. me) were able to learn from the more experienced artists. My favorite memories consist of being in the art studio- I would go alone and work on mixing paints and making slow progress on my pieces. I would spend hours alone there, but the hours merely felt like minutes because I would become so immersed in my art. After I would leave class, the HISA building had stairs that led to the roof with an amazing view of the ocean and island. If I left the studio in the evening, I would climb to the rooftop and watch the sunset over the ocean. I still have never felt as content and at peace as I did in those moments.
For other students like me- who have majors that they cannot take directly take classes abroad for, and who want to be able to enjoy their time abroad rather than spending much of it studying and stressing- I recommend Athena Study Abroad. I also recommend applying to be a blog post writer for the program you apply for. I decided to apply as the blog post writer for the Paros program, and it ended up being an incredible way to capture my time there. I frequently go to the website and read my old posts along with the new adventures of students, and it makes me remember small details I had forgotten from my time there almost a year ago.
These experiences taught me so much about myself and my abilities. I left Greece not only knowing how to paint, but I also felt empowered. It was so liberating knowing I had traveled abroad alone for a month and thrived there. I am still in contact with three incredibly close friends I made while I was there, and painting is now one of my favorite stress relievers. Going abroad through Athena has also inspired me to go abroad again. I not only plan to apply to go to Nicaragua next summer, but I am also looking into applying for graduate school in England. I truly believe if it were not for Athena Study Abroad and the opportunities I had in Paros, I would not have the confidence or the drive to reach for these goals.

How can this program be improved?
N/A
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kolby
9/10

A little bit of Paros-dise

In the summer of 2017, I went through Athena Study Abroad to participate on a study abroad trip to Paros Island, Greece. The program took me not only to the island of Paros, but to Greece's capitol Athens and several other cycladic islands like Mykonos, Anti-Paros, and Santorini. The duration of the trip was only 3 weeks, but it was crammed with enough memories to fill a lifetime. During my trip I was studying digital imaging and photography. The scenic landscapes and exciting moments led to some amazing photos that I was able to use in my class portfolio and keep for myself. The teaching staff at HISA along with the owners of the School, Yuko and Barry, felt more like a family than instructors. They accompanied us everywhere and gave us insight into Greek culture even when we weren't in the classroom. They truly made my first study abroad experience feel like more of an adventure than I would've ever been able to anticipate. I'd have to say my fondest memory in Greece was the sunset on the island of Santorini. My entire study abroad group of 18 had all gone out for dinner together and enjoyed a rooftop dining experience while the sun was setting upon the sky blue ocean, a moment I doubt I will ever be able to beat. After returning to the States, I noticed that nothing measured up to the Greek island life I had experiences for the past 3 weeks. I am eager to return to Greece myself to experience something like the indescribable time that my study abroad experience gave me.

How can this program be improved?
The only downside to this program was having to walk about a mile to and from the school for class. However, this was also a blessing because it allowed you to appreciation the beautiful town of Parika along the way.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Shira
10/10

Idyllic Island Adventure

Being on Paros was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I go to school in Chicago, so to go to a small island village from living in this huge city was absolutely life changing. Meeting locals, watching the island change and blossom as the season changes, traveling by boat to various islands, and seeing the incredible nature of Greece was indescribable. The program and classes are small so you truly form unique bonds with everyone, and you get to know the teachers as friends and people too. The classes are fun and unique, and my painting class provided unlimited resources and support for any experimentation or projects you could ever make. The program length allows for some travel before, too, because mine started March 2 and I finished my semester in the states in december. Paros is a hidden gem and living in between the mountains and the ocean was an experience I’ll never forget, and helped me grow and develop as an artist and human. I was so sad to leave and will surely be back!!

How can this program be improved?
I would love it to be longer, but other than that, it’s perfect!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jennifer
10/10

BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!!!

Studying Abroad was by far the best experience of my life and I will keep telling people that. I decided I wanted to travel to Greece years ago but it was not until last year that I decided this is were I wanted to study abroad. I found Athena Study Abroad online and they helped me figure out that Greece was right for me. I wanted to travel to the islands and not be trapped on the main land in Athens, and their summer program located in Paros allowed me to do just that. In all I visited six islands and the mainland in just a short month. Along with all of the traveling and sight seeing, we had class about 3 to 4 times a week, which was very laid back and let the students learn at their own pace. I really enjoyed that aspect because I decided to take a painting class, which I had no experience in, and the teacher helped me throughout it, not rushing me. Overall I could have not asked for a better location or program. The whole way through my planning and even my trip, Athena Abroad, was right there beside me, helping.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change would be giving students a meal plan. We had to buy food everyday which started to really add up.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Natalie
10/10

Amazing Experience!

My time in Greece was absolutely spectacular. I had the experience of a life time. Athena Abroad and HISA did an amazing job of making sure the program was the perfect balance of exploration and learning. There was never a dull day in Greece; we were always on an adventure. The classes at HISA were also great. They were very personalized and small, which created a great learning environment. Overall it was an incredible program, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Katie
10/10

HISA

Studying abroad with HISA is the best decision that I've ever made. I had the most inspiring experiences, met some of my best friends, and was able to fulfill my dream of living on a beautiful Greek island.
I always loved going to class and was never stressed about my school work because the professors care much more about inspiring us to think rather than assigning loads of homework.
I spent my weekends exploring Paros' beautiful beaches and mountains and traveling to other awe inspiring islands. Our mid-semester trip to Turkey is one that I will never forget.
I spend every day wishing I was back in Paros and I would urge anyone who is even slightly interested in the program to apply!

How can this program be improved?
I would have loved to stay an extra two weeks or so!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sara
10/10

Paros Island: An Inspirational Journey

In Spring 2014 I studied abroad in Paros Island, Greece with Athena. Not to be cliche about it, because it's absolutely true, but it was a life changing experience for me! From start to finish, I had people both from Athena and HISA, the school abroad, helping me out. The application process was easy because the people from Athena would get in touch with me to see how I was doing and I knew they were always available if I had questions.
Paros Island was an inspirational paradise for me! Even with the course load, I had time to relax on the beach or work on projects I hadn't had the time for before. The faculty on Paros were also very helpful with whatever I needed. I didn't just gain friendships with the girls in my program, I also grew close to my professors as well. Sigrid, my literature teacher, always lit up when we had class discussions, so I knew she loved what she was doing and I loved taking her class because of it. George, my creative writing teacher, was instrumental in helping me start to write the draft of my novel. He was flexible with all of us in his class and even scheduled one on one meetings with us individually to help us with our writing.
Study abroad in general is guaranteed to be an incredible experience, and studying abroad on Paros Island, Greece is no exception because everyone involved goes above and beyond to make it the best experience for you, personally!

How can this program be improved?
I can think of nothing to improve this program.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Maggie
10/10

Cycladic Paradise

I would wake up around 7:00am each morning, to go for a jog on the ledges of the cliffs. The air was warm, the water baby blue and the wind blowing at the perfect speed. My classes did not start until later in the day, so I would sit on the beach until they began. I took six classes and everyone was a learning experience. I enjoyed the classes discussion with my brilliant professor and classmates.
I enjoyed all of the excision to the different Islands and the week trip to Turkey. Delos, is a place that will never be forgotten.

How can this program be improved?
I think more history classes should have been offered.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jenna
10/10

Greek Island Adventures

Athena offered an amazing greek styled experience from where we lived to where we ate. The best thing about this program is that learning is not just within the class room. The program takes you on weekend and day trips around the island and to neighboring islands. If you love the water then you have found the right place. Just a minute or two walk away from a beach with amazing beaches all around the island. We got to go on boat trips and we even went cliff diving in Santorini.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Erica
10/10

Study Abroad in Paradise

Study abroad with Athena was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was originally attracted to their booth during study abroad fair day on Xavier University's campus because of its bright colors and warm welcome. An Athena employee instantly greeted me when I first walked up, giving me enough information that I didn't feel overwhelmed, but our conversation was engaging leading me to check out their website. The manual was super easy to read and all the information was given so I didn't really have any questions. When the application process started, Athena's website was super easy to navigate and I had no problem getting in all the required forms. Actually being in Greece was an amazing experience. Athena had everything planned from a greeting at the airport to ferry tickets to our destination island of Paros. One of the best parts about Athena's Paros Island program is throughout the month tat you are in Greece you get to travel to many different islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, Anti-Paros, Delos, Naxos, etc. The teachers are passionate about what they do and that was shown everyday in class. I wouldn't change my study abroad experience for anything and I am so greateful for everything that Athena Study Abroad has done for me.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alexandra
9/10

Unforgettable Experience

I choose HISA and Athena because of the unique experience it could give me. I didn't want a experience of going to a university, and taking standard classes that I could take back in my home university. I wanted to learn things that I could only learn in this country, and could be seen first hand.
Honestly, HISA was just an amazing experience! The professors are all extremely knowledgable in their field, fascinating, and truly care and love teaching. That school, for a semester, becomes your family. This program also really challenges who you are, what you believe, and pushes you to your potential
The town is fairly small, but the students are welcomed with open arms into the community as long as you make an effort. It is a very laid back little place. There's not a ton of variety as far as things to do on the island, but I just enjoyed the laid back life.
You are island hopping most weekends and get to see 5 other islands, plus Athens. Along with the spring break field trip. There is also optional weekend hikes on weekends you are not traveling.
Lastly, the greek culture is just something that everyone should experience. The warmth, and welcoming atmosphere is overwhelming, but eventually, you learn to love it. The food is just always top notch. Everything is fresh, from the meat, to the veggies.

I would also highly recommend Athena Study Abroad to anyone, in fact, I have to many of my friends. Everyone in this small company is truly devoted to helping you in any way possible. They love their job, and it shows. When I study abroad again, I plan to go through them again!

How can this program be improved?
I think that there should be an option for home-stays. As much as I loved living at Jimmy's, I think that students should have an option to stay with a local. This way, they are able to integrate themselves more into the culture, and learn the language.
I also wish there would have been more of a push to learn the language. I really do regret not learning more of it, and using it!
Other than that, no complaints!
Yes, I recommend this program

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Athena Study Abroad was designed by knowledgeable and caring professionals with one goal in mind: to bring authentic study abroad experiences to life that involve real cultural immersion aspects. Athena strives to provide programs that embrace...