Mr. Dimitrios Rentel 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 am a Classics major, and the question I get the most is why do we bother learning Latin and Greek, dead languages, when many of the great works have already been translated. What is the point? But one of my old professors pointed out to me that, by reading classical works in English, we are forcing these ancient writers to step into our world, when in truth we need to be stepping into theirs. As such, Classics is the act of surrendering our pre-conceived notions about people, our own world, and ultimately ourselves to more fully engage with someone else.
But Classics is not the only medium to do this - I would say studying abroad is a most excellent way of doing this as well. We leave behind our world, our ways of life, and a part of ourselves, so that we might engage with another world, another way of life, and with other people. Learning this ability, the ability to engage and empathize and how to surrender yourself to more understand another is obviously wonderful for studies, but I have found that is makes me a better person, too.
What advice do you have for prospective students who are interested in or planning to study abroad with CYA?
Often people focus on the "study" part in the phrase, study abroad, but I would urge people not to think of CYA, or any study abroad program, really, as just a place for studying. I would encourage everyone to get outside their classes, outside their apartments, and outside their comfort zone. Explore Greece! Meet people! Engage with the community around you, a community that will engage you back with just the barest bit of effort. Even in coronavirus, I was still able to meet people, like the regulars at my favorite cafes, and these encounters are what I'll be remembering as I return to the States, not what Thucydides' verb choice was on line 4 of chapter 23 in book 4. Obviously, I encourage everyone to commit themselves to their studies as much as possible. But in order to really have a great time, to get the most out of the experience, you have to get outside and encounter Greece at its fullest.
Mr. Dimitrios Rentel, how was the political climate in Greece different from what are you used to? If applicable, describe a time when you had to navigate a political conversation during your time abroad.
I once was in a room with two Greek men, one a far-right (loved Trump when he was brought up) and one who thought Greece would be better off communist. A fascinating 2-hour conversation ensued - people tend to be much more respectful of political opinions here. Of course, there was shouting in the conversation, but when it ended everyone was still good friends. All it takes is a little respect.
Favorite food in Greece?
Pork Souvlaki, now and forever
Favorite class you took at CYA?
Introductory Modern Greek, surprisingly enough