Life changing, eye-opening, and nothing short of a dream

cyablog_cyathens life-changing
CYA students view their study abroad in Greece as a life-changing experience, one that has increased their awareness and perceptions making them better prepared to live in the global community. Here’s what former CYA student Ileana Riveron had to say about her experience.

Some of the Most Meaningful and Happiest Months of my Life

Source: GoOverseas

It’s hard to avoid falling into cliches when describing my semester with CYA Athens, because those four months really were life changing, eye-opening, and nothing short of a dream. Of course, the country of Greece is unspeakably beautiful, and I am amazed at the huge variety of places I was able to see. From the otherworldly landscape of ‘Meteora’ with 15th century monasteries perched atop shocking rock formations to the volcanic cliffs of Santorini… The beaches and mountain ranges were surprisingly diverse but equally spectacular, and each island, village and city had a uniquely charming vibe.

The best part of experiencing Greece was not the breathtaking vistas, however. It was the people of Greece, hands down. Sometimes I still shake my head in grateful amazement when I think of all the ways and times that I was shown generosity, warmth and downright familial love from too many people to count. This alone changed me, and is something that I hope to pass on to others wherever I go in life. The CYA staff was not an exception to this rule; in fact, they were all some of the most wonderful and interesting people I met in Greece.

The academic component of this program was just as excellent. The material for my classes was stimulating and fascinating, and the professors were fantastic. They gave us more individual attention than I’ve ever had in college and took us on once-in-a-lifetime field trips like inside Parliament and an Orthodox monastery, and to archaeological sites, museums and exhibits. As if this weren’t enough, CYA takes all of its students on multiple school-wide field trips that last for as long as one week. This gives you the opportunity to hear about historic and cultural sites from experts in the field in a way that would never be possible as a tourist.

All in all, I can hardly overstate how highly I recommend College Year in Athens. It opened my mind to new perspectives and taught me so much about the world. But also, it taught me so much about myself. I truly can say that I feel like Greece has become like a second home, and that is in large part thanks to CYA.

By Ileana Riveron
Harvard University