Going into college, I always knew I wanted to go abroad. I was never really able to travel much when I was growing up because of my athletic commitments, so I was always been itching for the opportunity to travel to a new place, experience a new culture, and learn a lot along the way!
Why did you choose College Year in Athens?
I had very narrow, specific criteria when selecting a program. As an athlete, I was only able to study abroad for a part of the summer, and CYA offered me the flexibility to choose a program that fit perfectly in that time frame. I also needed a program that could provide me with humanities credits, so the archeology course was perfect. And finally, I had a short list of countries I was most interested in visiting, and Greece was very high on it. So in the end, CYA was the perfect program because it checked all my boxes!
What was your favorite part about Greece?
Wow, there are too many things to choose from! One of my favorite parts of Greece was Santorini though. I had seen countless pictures of Oia, and yet being able to finally see it in person was so much better than I ever could have imagined. The architecture is beautiful and the views of the crystal blue water of the mediterranean were breathtaking. I had so much fun exploring the island, shopping around, and relaxing on the beaches.
What made your experience abroad unique?
My abroad experience was unique because of how much I was able to experience in such a short amount of time. My program was only 4 weeks long, yet I feel like I received a years worth of memories from it. Every day we learned something new, explored a new place, or tried a new food. It was a jam-packed trip and I loved every second of it.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The local staff was extremely helpful in guiding us on how to get the most out of our time abroad. Living in a new place could take some people months to get used to, but with the help of CYA staff, I was able to learn my way around, know the best restaurants to eat at, and live like a local during week one. If I ever wanted a suggestion on what to do or where to go, the staff was there with countless recommendations to make sure I didn't waste a second of my precious time abroad.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
One thing I wish I'd done differently was to get to know more of my classmates sooner. I developed a core group of friends within my class who I was fortunate to get to know very well, but later on in the experience, I started getting closer to the others as well. I wish I had spent a bit more time with everyone in the group.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
One of the things I enjoyed about CYA was that there was no such thing as a "typical day." Every day was something new and exciting. There were times we'd be in a classroom, but mostly we'd be visiting a new museum or archeological site every day. There were a few places my friends and I would routinely go for breakfast/coffee, but otherwise, it was all about going with the flow.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Another huge perk to CYA was all the free time we had to explore Greece. Most of my free time was spent at the beach or working out with my friends. At night, we would eat at a new restaurant almost every night and find a new bar to grab drinks at as well. We saw a lot of the cities we were in in a short amount of time.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
When we were in Athens, we stayed in apartments. I really liked this because it was nice having things like a fridge and a room to myself as a "home base" because this is the city we were in most. We were also provided lunch every day at CYA which was a nice bonus. When we traveled to the islands we stayed in hotels. This was a fun because we would have the entire class together in one place which helped us bond. We also had some very nice meals provided to us by the hotels as well.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
There is so much to explore in Greece! Feel free to do some research on places to go/things to do before you arrive, but also make a point to ask the locals as well. I ended up at some amazing places I never would have been able to find on my own.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
Going abroad made me a much more well rounded person. I feel like I have so much more life experience and knowledge of other cultures now. The second I got home, I was already thinking about the next time I can plan a trip back to Europe. It has really opened my eyes to all the amazing places there are to explore, and now I want to experience them all!
Would you recommend College Year in Athens to others? Why?
I would 100% recommend CYA to anyone who is interested in going abroad. It was the perfect balance of everything I was looking for in an abroad experience. I learned so much while also having the flexibility and free time to explore Greece with all the new wonderful friends I had made. If I could rewind and live it all again, I would in a heartbeat.
Kim Johnson is originally from California. She goes to school at the University of Michigan. Kim is a business major who is looking to concentrate in Real Estate Development. Prior to going abroad, she had only ever traveled within North America and was anxious to experience another continent.