Caroline Shea
Student Ambassador

Email: [email protected]
School: Skidmore College
Cya Term: Spring 2021
Major: Sociology
Anticipated Graduation: 5/21/2022

Based on your experience with CYA, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester or summer abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?

I can go on and on about the benefits of studying abroad. In fact, I’ve been procrastinating filling out this application because it is beyond difficult to summarize all that my experience at CYA has given me.

Since middle school, I’ve been telling people that my life’s dream is to travel the world. The act of traveling to Greece, navigating a language barrier, planning trips and figuring out transportation logistics, succeeding in my classes and my internship, and loving every millisecond of it-- has made me think that maybe my “dream” is achievable.

Of course, I could rave about my classes at CYA. I can't believe I got to learn about history while standing in history. It's much easier to grasp concepts regarding the building of the Acropolis, when you're standing at the Acropolis! I loved traveling around the city with my classmates and becoming so excited when we could connect our excursions with our studies. My professors were intelligent, remarkable, and kind. I am honored to have been able to learn from them.

On a deeper level, my study abroad experience truly saved me. I studied abroad during a rather challenging period of my life, so much so that many doubted that I was making the right decision in choosing to study abroad. Looking back at it, I studied abroad at a time where I needed it the most. I don’t think I ever stopped smiling. I felt like I was in this far removed universe where the actual air was lighter. Now I am back in the United States and faced with the reality that I seemingly escaped for four months, however when I think of Greece, when I touch my Amber rock necklace from Monastiraki, I am reminded that hope exists, that magic exists.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are interested in or planning to study abroad with CYA?

The chorus from my favorite Saint Motel song sings, "Ever think what if we never met? You love me, but you don't know it yet.” In the days leading up to leaving for Greece, I was so nervous that I could barely leave my room. It’s hard to think that that is the same person that got home from the airport in late May, and looked at a picture of her and her roommates and began uncontrollably crying (and frankly hasn’t stopped since). I wish I had believed in myself more, I wish I had turned my nerves into excitement, I wish I had reassured myself that I was about to meet so many people that I was going to love for the rest of my life- because right now, I would do anything and everything to be on the other side of my Greek adventure.

Please select any of the following that apply to you, and that you would be willing to share about your CYA experience with other students:

Accessibility services, Finances while abroad, Mental health while abroad, Media Lab internship experience, being a Greek person in Greece, navigating the challenge of learning Greek

Briefly describe a cultural experience you had that was significant to you in any way.

Numerous classmates and I went to Crete during our last week of the semester. Because of the timing of my flight home, I had to come back to Athens a day earlier than everyone else. I think I was quite literally the only CYA student in Pagrati on that night. Feeling just a tad lonely in my apartment, I decided to go out and run a few errands. Before I could even get to my destination, I had stopped to have a conversation with my neighbors in the hallway of the apartment, bumped into the lobby cat on the corner, and said "Γεια σου" to the convenience store owners. I bought some Nescafe from the friendly cashier at the (cash only!) mini market and made eye contact with my friend Dimitris at Kekkos (the best coffee shop in the whole world) which of course led to an hour conversation and many, many, many, many laughs and scoops of Pistachio ice cream. It was that night that I realized that I was home. I was the only CYA student in all of Pagrati but I was home. Experiencing Greek culture is like being hugged over and over again.

Favorite food in Greece?

Fried feta with sesame seeds and honey

Favorite class you took at CYA?

The European Governance of Migration

Favorite quote from abroad?

"Do you want to go to Kekkos with me?"

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