Diversity Resources

College Year in Athens wants to make sure that all of its students feel supported and confident during their time with us in Greece. Our identities shape our academic experiences and our travel experiences in many ways, and we don’t always know what to expect. The resources below are a place to start: you’ll find information on CYA support, local Greek organizations, and also general information on how identity can intersect with study abroad and how to prepare. We also encourage you to get in touch with us directly, where you can chat with CYA staff about your concerns, or be put in touch with a CYA alum who has offered to talk with potential CYA students about their own experiences. Just drop us a line at [email protected].

You can also find more descriptive information on diversity in contemporary Greek society here: Diversity & Inclusion in Greek Society.

First generation students

Many CYAers are their family’s first to study in college, let alone to study abroad. We would be happy to put you in touch with another first generation CYA alum, so you have the chance to chat with another student about how the experience went for them.

CYA offers additional academic support for students outside of the classroom, to ensure that everybody has the practical skills needed to succeed. With workshops and one-on-one support, our Academic Writing Lab gives help with note taking, presentations, writing, and more. We also have a Language Lab to give additional practice and support for students taking Greek, Ancient Greek, or Latin. Learn more here.

CYA also offers scholarships that can help support your ability to study abroad. You can find out more about those here.

There are also general resources online for first generation students that might be helpful to check out. I’m First is an online community of first generation college students, and the Diversity Abroad website also has ideas and information specifically for first generation students who are headed abroad.

LGBTQIA+ resources

Our page on diversity in contemporary Greek society gives a little more background on LGBTQIA+ issues in Greece.

We would also be happy to put you in touch with an LGBTQIA+ CYA alum, so you have the chance to chat with another student about how the experience was for them.

Colour Youth is an important organization in Athens that CYA students have been involved with, and they are a tremendous resource for support, activism, and information specifically for LGBTQIA+ youth.

There are a number of cultural organizations in Athens that focus specifically on queer expression, like Queer Ink and the Athens Museum of Queer Arts, and many more social and commercial spaces. This article gives a good overview of spaces and events for you to explore.

Race & ethnicity abroad

Our page on diversity in contemporary Greek society gives a little more background on the local context regarding race and ethnicity.

We would also be happy to put you in touch with a CYA alum of a similar background, so you have the chance to chat with another student about how the experience was for them.

The diversity of Athens is steadily increasing. Though the majority of people you meet will be ethnically Greek, you’ll also meet people from a multitude of backgrounds. Athens has communities of people with origins from all over the world, and CYA will be happy to help you connect with the shops and neighborhoods of specific ethnic groups. If you’re missing specific foods and spices, or are looking for hair care products, or salons that specialize in specific styles, we will put you in touch.

As you can see from this list, there are community organizations in Athens from many different countries and groups; if you’re reluctant to call a Greek phone number to get in touch with one, someone at CYA will help you out.

If you are interested in the social justice movement, the anti-racism movement in Greece is a very important actor in shaping the rights of people of color, and very much worth learning more about. The organization Generation 2.0 has been a crucial one in the past years, and they have a lot of information about their activities on their site, as does the Greek Forum of Migrants, a network of migrant organizations and communities. The United African Women Association is another community group that holds both social and activist events. There are numerous volunteer opportunities that you can participate in while at CYA that will bring you into contact with others locally involved in social justice.

For a very interesting experiential read about the ethnic and racial landscape of the city, check out this post on the African Culture Blog. And here’s another blog post, “Being a Black American Woman in Athens”, to see that personal perspective.

Finally, check out this article by journalist Omaira Gill, “We Need to Talk About Greece: Why Acknowledging Racism Is The First Step To Fixing It”, which has an excellent discussion from her firsthand experience.

Financial need

Financial concerns can be crucial to studying abroad. Having faced a great deal of economic difficulty as a society over the past decade, locals in Athens are familiar with the desire to live well within a limited budget.

You can find more information about the costs of living in Athens and budgeting for your time abroad here.

CYA also offers scholarships that can help support your ability to study abroad. You can find out more about those here.

Disability and accommodation

CYA will work with both you and your home institution if you have disabilities or are alter-abled, and need accommodations as part of your study abroad with us. It is important to be in communication so that we can plan together, and ensure that your experience is a success. We have resources to share regarding many different accessibility and accommodation possibilities. Just drop us a line at [email protected].

We would also be happy to put you in touch with a CYA alum, so you have the chance to chat with another student about how the experience was for them.

For more information about studying abroad with a disability more generally, check out the Global Access Files and the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange.

Religion and spirituality

Finding a place to connect with your religious or spiritual practice while abroad is also a great way to participate in a local community. Although Greece is a majority Greek Orthodox country, there are places of worship for many different faiths in Athens.

If you’re Greek Orthodox, you’ll be within walking distance of several churches. You can learn more about local services, events, and spaces at the Church of Greece’s website.

Athens opened a new, official state-sponsored mosque in 2020, the Votanikos Mosque, for Greece’s Muslim community. There are also a number of smaller mosques (mostly unofficial, but several of them formally established) that are usually specific to distinct ethnic or linguistic communities in the city (see a great article on them here).

The Beth Shalom Synagogue holds services for the Jewish community of Greece. The Chabad organization has more information about attending on their website (you’ll need to plan ahead to go to services, sending them a copy of your passport and the dates of services you want to attend). Chabad also organizes Shabbat meals and holiday meals, and runs a Kosher restaurant and food store, so get in touch with them through their website if you’re interested. The Jewish Museum of Athens is also a good place to learn more about the history of Jewish life in Greece.

The Catholic church of St. Denis in Athens (or, more formally, Saint Dionysius the Areopagite) has services in English and Greek, in a beautiful neo-Renaissance church built in the mid-1800s. You can learn more about the Catholic church of Greece on their website, including the parishes in other parts of Greece. The church serves Greece’s historical Catholic community as well as important new communities that have been established here in the past years from other countries, such as the Philippines. The Catholic charity Caritas is also a great place to volunteer while you’re here (open to all faiths).

The First Greek Evangelical Church is a congregation that’s been established in Greece for over 150 years. This church is in the Greek evangelical tradition; see St. Andrews below for a more American-tradition evangelical church.

St. Andrews International Church is an interdenominational evangelical church whose services are in English. There are a number of Americans there. They run a number of faith-based outreach programs in Athens, like their projects Helping Hands and Nea Zoi.

There is a small Hindu community in Athens, mostly connected to the Indian community. You can get in touch through their Facebook page, which is also the page of the temple.

There are a number of Buddist centers and temples in Athens, some run by Greek Buddhists that were begun around the 1970s, and others that serve communities of people who have migrated to Greece from countries where Buddhism is a major religion. The easiest for you to access in English would be the Diamond Way Buddhist Centre, which is open to visitors and where meditation is taught to newcomers. If you speak another language shared by an ethnic group that practices Buddhism, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with that community in Athens.

St. Paul’s Anglican church is a beautiful historic building, built in 1843, making it the city’s earliest foreign church. Services are in English, and they have a number of choral events and community events that they host throughout the year.

The Greek Polytheistic tradition is practiced by several groups in Greece, the best established of which is probably the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes (YSEE). You can learn a lot more about them on their website, and contact them there.

You’ll also find an extended list of places of worship at this link.

Dietary concerns

Many students worry about following specific diets while in Greece, whether they be based in health, allergies, religion, or ethics. CYA can and will accommodate your allergen and dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan and gluten free) in our cafeteria and on our trips, on whatever occasions CYA provides food. For your own shopping, you can refer to the resources below or ask for our help.

Vegan and vegetarian. Although it is not as common or as understood as in the US, there are ever-increasing vegan offerings in Greece, which is also helpfully called “vegan” in Greek too. New vegan restaurants and supermarket products have been popping up the past few years (even one right in CYA’s neighborhood). At the same time, traditional Greek cooking contains a lot of vegetarian and vegan offerings, and much of the food people eat when they practice a traditional religious fast in Greek Orthodoxy falls into that category. You’ll need to be clear about what you eat and don’t eat (saying “vegan” or “vegetarian” won’t necessarily help you if the place doesn’t use those words on the menu), but fresh vegetables and legumes cooked in olive oil are a staple of the Greek diet.

Halal. There are a number of restaurants in Athens that are halal, usually specific to food from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. You won’t likely meet many people outside of those restaurants, and some “ethnic food” minimarkets in the CYA neighborhood, who understand what eating halal requires, and so you’ll need to be able to be clear about what foods are appropriate for you. See this great article on eating halal in Greece for reviews and good ideas.

Kosher. There is one restaurant and store in Athens that specialize in Kosher foods, run by the Chabad organization. They also organize Shabbat and holiday meals. You generally won’t find foods in the supermarket marked as Paerve/Parve.

Gluten-free. Gluten-free options are available at some bakeries in the CYA neighborhood and in the city’s many health-food stores. Hellenic Coeliac Society has information for visitors on their website about avoiding gluten, as do these useful posts from Legal Nomads and Celiac Travel (which also includes an information card about your dietary needs in Greek that you can carry on you).  My Gluten Free Guide is another good  resource of information.  Also, here is a Google map of places where you can find gluten free products.