FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
About the program
Do I need to speak Greek to participate in the program?
All classes at College Year in Athens are taught in English; therefore, prior knowledge of Modern Greek is not necessary to apply to or attend CYA. However, your experience—both academic and cultural—will be immeasurably enhanced by your efforts to learn and speak Modern Greek. As a result, the vast majority of CYA students enroll in CYA’s Modern Greek Language courses. No one expects a student to become fluent in one semester, or a year for that matter, but even the most rudimentary knowledge of the language will help you to get around Athens and the rest of the country, meet people, and better understand the nuances of Greek history and culture.
Where is the program located?
The College Year in Athens Academic Center is located in the heart of central Athens, next to the Panathenaic (or Kallimarmaro) Stadium and opposite the National Gardens, with a stunning view of the Acropolis. The Academic Center houses classrooms, the library, the student lounge, the dining hall, the computer lab, an auditorium, laundry facilities, and faculty and administrative offices. The Center is convenient to major historical sites, public transportation, and amenities such as shops and restaurants. Classes take place at the Academic Center as well as on-site both within Athens and on field trips. Student housing is located in residential areas within walking distance of the Academic Center.
Where will I live?
Students live in furnished apartments—not dormitories—with two to five other students. The apartments are in the Pangrati neighborhood in the heart of Athens. It is a particularly pleasant and safe residential area and the apartments are located a convenient walk from the Academic Center. For detailed information, go to Housing and Meals on the Student Life menu.
How many students attend College Year in Athens each semester?
Approximately 135 students attend each semester, representing colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Will studying abroad help my chances of finding a job?
Although we cannot make guarantees, evidence shows that study abroad experience is considered an important asset in an increasingly global business environment.
Why study with CYA? What sets CYA apart?
College Year in Athens is the oldest and most established study abroad program in Greece, with a long history of excellence in academics, field study, and cultural immersion. We recommend that you spend plenty of time investigating this web site, and especially, comparing what you see here to what other programs have to offer. In our view, the assessments of present and past students are extremely helpful. (Check out what they have to say on our CYA blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr entries.) Contact one of our CYA Ambassadors who are always willing to speak to prospective students about their experiences in the Program.
About student life
What is the weather like in Greece?
Don’t be misled by travel advertisements, which would have you believe that Greece experiences summer weather year-round. It doesn’t! Greece has winter. (Although it is a treat to see snow on the Acropolis, winters in Athens are generally very temperate when compared to winters in the US on the east coast or in the mid-Western.) Students who will be in Athens between late November and mid-March should bring winter gear, such as a coat and gloves; layers are a good defense against wind and rain. Spring and fall semester students can anticipate the hot Athenian summer weather to extend through October and to begin again in May. CYA suggests that you consult your favorite weather-related web site for monthly temperature averages in Greece.
How can I meet Greeks?
Meeting and making friends with Greeks is one of the most rewarding experiences students can have during their stay at CYA. Like meeting people in any foreign environment, getting to know Greeks will likely require effort on your part and a good-natured willingness to seize any opportunity to talk to someone new. Here are a few tips:
- Although it may feel awkward at first, try, whenever possible, to use your Greek, no matter how limited! You will soon discover that most Greeks are extremely appreciative of your efforts to speak the language and will go out of their way to get to know something about you.
- Remember that you and your classmates will be living like “real Athenians” do: in an apartment amidst Greek neighbors of all ages in a neighborhood full of cafes, restaurants, shops and businesses of all kinds. People pay attention to newcomers here, and you will soon come to recognize your neighbors, the groups of friends who frequent the local cafes, shopkeepers, and so on. Be courteous and friendly, and your list of neighborhood acquaintances will grow.
- Don’t hide your curiosity. If you don’t understand how something works, what something is, or where you are, ask. At the weekly fruit and vegetable market, try asking someone to explain how to cook those strange-looking greens everyone buys by the kilo (and then be prepared to receive extensive cooking tips every time you shop at the market).
- If you have hobbies or special interests (from hiking to playing pool to flamenco dancing or yoga), check in with the Student Affairs office to find out how to pursue them in Athens. This is a fantastic way to meet people with whom you’ll have things in common.
- Take the opportunity to visit the islands or mainland Greece on the weekends. Small-town/village life in Greece is vastly different from what you see in Athens. Trying to find the bus stop-or a place to eat-or an out-of-the-way neighborhood-can lead to all kinds of adventures.
Still stumped? Don’t hide in your apartment. Talk to the CYA staff for advice.
Can I work in Greece?
By law, non-residents seeking employment in Greece must obtain a work permit. In other words, no student should arrive in Greece expecting to pick up work easily or to finance his or her studies by working. There are occasional babysitting and informal tutoring jobs available in Athens, however. Accepted students may consult the Student Affairs Office for more information.
What about community service/volunteering?
We help dozens of students to arrange volunteer or internship experiences; CYA students have done everything from volunteering in law firms to serving at local soup kitchens and assisting beekeepers. Opportunities for volunteering cover many different areas, including: refugee aid, soup kitchens, environmental groups, animal welfare, special needs education, film and theater, writing and editing, libraries, museums, art galleries, kindergartens, marketing and advertising, and various non-profit organizations. Internships at some organizations may be arranged as part of specific courses.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and build friendships and networks while in Athens. CYA is also a Bonner Approved study abroad program, which means Bonner Leaders & Scholars are able to satisfy their required community service through study abroad at CYA in Greece.
The Student Affairs Office will do its best to accommodate you, so be sure to make your requests known upon arrival.
How easy is it to travel to other countries while I’m studying in Athens?
CYA encourages students to make use of their free time, especially weekends, to explore Greece. Also, many students travel to different countries Europe during spring or fall break or before/after the program. How easy it is to travel-within or outside of Greece-mostly depends on your budget. Check out all the travel opportunities under Field Study.
Is it hard to be a vegetarian in Greece?
No. Greek food is varied and healthy, offering many alternatives to meat, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, legumes and grains. Greeks consume record amounts of cheese and yoghurt (Greek yoghurt is famous, especially with honey). You will find hummus, eggplant dip, tzatziki, bread, and cheese or spinach pie wherever you go in Greece. If you eat fish, you’re coming to the right place.
Will I be able to work out at a gym and/or pursue my athletic interests while in Athens?
There are plenty of places to work out in Athens, although just like back home, whether or not you will be able to use a gym depends on your budget. Membership in most gyms also requires a statement of good health from your doctor. Stop by the Student Affairs office after you arrive for more information on athletics, including organizing pick-up games with other students.
About financial stuff
Will my financial aid transfer?
Most federal aid is transferable; some state aid is transferable. Aid from individual schools is transferred at the school’s discretion. Please consult your financial aid advisor for further information and advice.
How much does the program cost?
Can I pay the Program Fee with a credit card?
CYA does not accept credit cards at this time.
About academics & credits
Will my school accept credit from College Year in Athens?
Most colleges and universities accept College Year in Athens courses for transfer credit. Students are responsible for arranging academic credit with their college or university and must have the Statement of Study Abroad Approval/Credit Transfer form completed by the study abroad advisor or dean. Students whose home institutions do not grant credit on the basis of the College Year in Athens transcript can go through CYA’s school of record and should contact the CYA North American office for more information (617-868-8200 or [email protected]).
What can I study at College Year in Athens?
College Year in Athens offers a substantial curriculum at the junior-year level augmented by field study to important historical sites. As much as possible all courses make use of the resources of the city of Athens and of what can be seen or experienced directly. The curriculum covers the following academic disciplines: Anthropology, Archaeology,, Architecture, Art History, Business, Communication, Cultural Heritage, Economics, Environmental Studies, Ethnography, History, International Relations, Languages— Ancient Greek, Latin & Modern Greek, Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Urbanism & Sustainability. All courses are taught in English.
For detailed information on specific course offerings, visit the Semester Programs page.
How many courses will I take?
Students take four or five courses per semester. Language courses meet for a total of sixty contact hours; other courses meet for a total of forty-five contact hours.
How competitive is your program?
CYA is competitive (see “Institutions Represented” under the About CYA menu). Our students come from excellent schools and have already been approved for study abroad (based on their GPAs and other factors) by their home institutions. By the time we receive their applications, only the top students have made it far enough to be considered. Students with questionable academic motivation should not expect to be accepted, nor should students with a history of disciplinary problems on their home campuses.
What are the application deadlines?
CYA employs a rolling admissions policy. Since applications will be considered only as long as space is available, CYA encourages early application. Please check the deadlines and policies for early discounts under Applications [link].
Can I submit a photo electronically?
Yes. You will receive instructions after acceptance on how to submit your ID photo digitally and what size and types are appropriate.
Do I need a visa to study in Greece?
A program of studies longer than 3 months, such as the College Year in Athens semester program, requires a student visa for students who do not have an EU passport. Accepted applicants will be provided with the necessary information in order to obtain a student visa from the nearest Greek consulate. CYA Summer Programs have a limited duration, and thus students from countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and the EU do not need a student visa. Summer program students from non-Schengen-Treaty countries should enter Greece on a tourist visa (normally valid for 3 months).
Can I study abroad if I’m a sophomore?
This depends on the policy of your home institution. On occasion, and depending on your academic goals and achievements, sophomores have been accepted for study at CYA.
I’m afraid my GPA might not be good enough. Should I still apply?
Although your GPA is very important and provides a good indication of your motivation and commitment to your program of studies, we also pay considerable attention to your Personal Statement (why you want to study in Greece and what you hope to get out of the experience) and your letters of reference. So don’t let a lower GPA discourage you from applying.
About health & medical emergencies
What if I need to see a doctor while attending the program?
All illnesses should be reported to the Student Affairs Office immediately. CYA maintains a list of English-speaking doctors (also found in the Student Handbook) and can recommend specialists. Doctors expect to be paid in cash, although fees are generally reasonable. Keep receipts so that you can be reimbursed by your insurance company.
Will I be able to buy the medications I am used to?
Please keep in mind that medications in Greece, either prescription or over-the-counter, often come under different commercial names than North Americans are used to. If you need special medications, it is safer to bring them with you. It is difficult to have medication mailed to you. You should nevertheless bring copies of all prescriptions, including vision prescriptions, with you, and ask your doctor to provide generic names.
If I have to go to the hospital, what can I expect, and how will I pay for it? Will someone in the hospital speak English?
CYA recommends that students use certain private hospitals if they need outpatient services or hospitalization in Athens. Euroclinic and Hygeia are two excellent private hospitals nearby. Expect to pay up front for services and have all receipts/invoices translated in order to turn them in to the insurance company. Private hospitals will accept credit cards, but if you use a public hospital or a facility outside of Athens, you will most likely need to pay in cash. Although we cannot make estimates on all hospital services, routine exams and diagnostics generally cost less in Greece than they do in the U.S. Rest assured that hospital personnel will do their best to find English speaking doctors/nurses. CYA staff will help you in any possible way, including accompanying you to the hospital, staying with you as much as possible and interpreting.
About technology & communications
Should I bring my laptop?
Yes. Communicating electronically is easy, as CYA apartments are equipped with WiFi Internet access and the CYA Academic Center has wireless technology throughout as well as plentiful wall jacks. If you don’t have a laptop, CYA has a computer lab to help you communicate, do research, and prepare your papers.
How will I be able to call home?
Most students elect to communicate via Skype or using a phone app based on wi-fi. There are no phones in CYA apartments, but each has a free wireless internet connection.
About travel, arrivals & visits from home
Does CYA offer a group flight?
No. CYA students are expected to make their own travel arrangements and most students arrive individually.
Can I coordinate travel/arrival with other students?
Yes. Once you are accepted at CYA, You will be given the opportunity to join a Group Facebook page through which you can get in touch with the rest of the students.
If I arrive early, can I stay in CYA student housing?
Student apartments are available beginning at 10 a.m. on Arrivals Day and no earlier. There are many hotels and hostels nearby. For suggestions go to Accommodations in Athens.
Can I stay in my CYA housing after the semester is over?
Full-year students may remain in their CYA apartments at no extra cost between fall and spring semesters. However, CYA cannot extend the housing period for single semester students.
Can my parents visit me while school is in session?
Of course, although we strongly recommend that your parents visit during breaks only: fall/spring break, Christmas break, and long holiday weekends. Remember, parental visits are not an acceptable excuse to miss class, and CYA cannot accommodate parents in the classroom or on CYA-sponsored field trips.
How do I get to the CYA Academic Center?
See Directions to CYA.
Can you recommend hotels that are convenient to the Academic Center?
See the suggestions for Accommodations in Athens in the Parents section.