Why did you choose this program? I wanted an experience in Europe that would allow me to immerse myself into that culture, while still having the ability to travel to other countries. Greece was always a place I wanted to learn more about and the CYA program perfectly aligned with what I was studying. Not only was I able to gain a stronger understanding of the foundations of Law, I was receiving on-site learning from the historic monuments and archaeological sites that still exist. At the end of the day, I choose this program because of the perfect balance between academics and lifestyle.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My first and favorite class abroad was Irregular Migration in the 21st Century, which focused on policies around the world dealing with the refugee crisis, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants. In this class, I met with refugees from across Africa who were seeking safety from violence, poverty, and authoritarian regimes. This class took learning beyond the scope of the classroom, teaching me lessons I will never forget. At CYA, on-site learning is a major tool of each course to help further the lessons taught in class. I ended up growing very close with my Greek professor, and she eventually became one of my references for scholarships and jobs.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? We stayed in apartments in a lovely Greek neighborhood. Students were scattered around this neighborhood so we could truly live amongst the Greek people. It allowed us to get a better sense of the culture and interact with people of all ages! There was the option of homestay although this requires a vast understanding of the Greek language.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? My advice is to be as prepared as possible! Make sure you are flexible and can roll with the punches because nothing goes according to plan. A lot of important lessons you will learn traveling, so be as open minded as possible. This is a privilege like no other, so be open to learning and communicating outside your comfort zone. Above all else, be respectful of the people and places you travel to!
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? There are way too many to choose from, but if I had to pick one memory, it would be my fall break when I traveled to both Morocco and Portugal. During this trip, I was constantly moving, adapting, and discovering. Each day brought new experiences, and with that new challenges. One of those days was a day trip to Essaouira from Marrakech. Essaouira was a smaller, coastal town, and not many people visited. Unfortunately, we missed the only bus back to Marrakech, and to make matters worse, the next bus wouldn’t be for two days due to a holiday. My travel group quickly realized we needed a game plan. We did not speak the language, we looked like foreigners, we were hungry, and we desperately needed a place to stay... on a budget. We eventually made progress, found a riad (hostel) for a night after wandering the city. There, the owners were kind enough to make us dinner and play music for us. They invited their friends over for tea, and despite not being able to communicate in English, we were able to show pictures, play music, and drink tea together! After lots of hand motions and online translation, we discovered one of the friends owned a taxi service. To our luck, the next morning we were able to taxi back to Marrakech, making our flight to Portugal. More importantly, we made so many fantastic memories along the way. It was a trying moment that turned out to be a great experience.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? I was happily surprised that the Greek residents we lived by were so welcoming and inviting. They spoke English and were so excited to talk to us about America and our lives, and in turn they taught me so much about their lives. I began to grow close with many people in the neighborhood and I felt so accepted when I stepped into each little store or coffee shop. The Greek people are so giving and lively it was something I did not expect.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock was hard since there are so many aspects of abroad that you cannot get in America. The experiences and life you build in one semester sometimes seem like the highlight of your life. It can be hard, and was hard for me to come back to Bloomington and jump into the same old routine again.
“If I could do it over, I would…”
I would stay longer!
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad?
That I really love the Greek culture. I think I am meant to go back and live there at some point in my life!
What do you wish someone had told you before you left?
Do not follow the pack! It is ok to make friends and travel with them on weekends, but go the places YOU want to go and do not just follow where your friends want to go! I learned this pretty quickly, making my travel experiences more valuable and exciting!
What was your greatest challenge?
Not speaking a foreign language.
Going abroad vs. staying on campus
Going abroad has all the benefits of on campus academics, the biggest difference is that you will gain a lifetime of skills, experiences, and knowledge in just one semester abroad.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn?
Santorini is overrated and Athens is the most vibrant, fun, and beautiful city.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad?
On the OVST website and through a little google search!
Would you recommend other students to pursue any specific scholarship opportunities?
I wish I looked into the Hutton Honors College scholarship!