GoAbroad Interview: Jennifer Holland – CYA Student Services Coordinator
How were you first introduced to CYA?
I’ve been a proud and grateful member of the College Year in Athens team for 18 years, first as a spring semester student in 1999, and then as a part of the administration. It continues to be a wonderful experience to work for a program with such an important mission (introducing young adults to Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Europe) and during a time in world history when this knowledge is crucial in understanding the world and our place in it. Moreover, I get to do this alongside some of the most dynamic, creative, and committed people I know: my colleagues at CYA!
Why do you think Greece specifically is a great place to study abroad?
Greece is close enough to observe, learn about, and participate in the thrilling changes going on in contemporary Europe and other parts of the world, while still feeling like its own small paradise and being enough steps away to breathe in, explore, and reflect on a rich and ancient past.
What is the ideal College Year in Athens student like?
The ideal “CYAer” is curious, flexible, committed to academics and learning, has a decent sense of humor, self-aware, responsible, respectful, and sensitive to other cultures, and motivated. He or she is not only willing to hang up the familiar for a while but does so with great enthusiasm! This is the backbone of a positive study abroad experience.
Describe an average day in the life of a CYA student.
The average day in the life of a CYA student is hardly ever average. Greece is a dynamic country offering students a multitude of experiences, whether academic, social, political, or spiritual in nature or a combination. The rich historical past of Greece, in combination with a very important and rapidly changing present, propels it toward a future that may see Greece having a stronger influence on the rest of the world than it does now. CYAers usually find studying amidst this energy very stimulating, which pretty much means they are always on the go. Of course, they do stop to reflect or enjoy peaceful moments under the brilliant Greek sun and blue skies, but then, before you know it, they’re off on a new adventure!
How does CYA help students cope with the change in environment and culture?
Once in Athens, and during orientation, students are informed of and given helpful hints on how to navigate the differences they may encounter during their daily life in Athens. Beyond Orientation, there are specific staff members available on a daily basis and a psychologist available by appointment for counseling. An important thing to know is that CYA administrative and faculty members are always around to answer questions and help students adapt to their new city. No issue, question, or concern is too great or too small; here we observe an open door policy.
What do you think the biggest benefit of studying abroad with CYA is?
CYA’s mission to give students a most comprehensive understanding of Greece, its environs, and contemporary issues, by bringing them in contact with top experts in their fields, the CYA faculty, who often hold class lectures on site, whether that be on top of the Acropolis, in the Greek Parliament, on an ancient battlefield, in an ecological reserve, or in the middle of this vibrant city.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
This is the easiest question of all to answer. CYA students.