Isabelle Unger
Student Ambassador
Email: [email protected]
School:Skidmore College
Cya Term:Spring 2024
Major:Political Science
Anticipated Graduation:5/17/2025

Studying abroad as a person of color has been a wild ride of cultural immersion and personal growth. Being immersed in a foreign country has totally busted stereotypes wide open for me, giving me a deeper appreciation for global diversity. Plus, living in a place where my native language isn't the norm has been a crash course in linguistic survival—I've gone from stumbling over words to sometimes holding my own in conversations. Academically, I've been exposed to new ideas and perspectives that just don't get as much airtime back home, which has been mind-blowing. And let's not forget about the personal stuff—living outside my comfort zone has toughened me up and made me so much more self-aware. Making friends from all corners of the globe has expanded my social circle like crazy, and it's been eye-opening to see how systemic issues play out in different cultures. Overall, studying abroad has been an unforgettable rollercoaster of growth, learning, and making connections that will last a lifetime.

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

Studying abroad in Greece was a whirlwind of new experiences and eye-opening lessons. My advice for anyone considering it would be to dive headfirst into the culture, stay flexible, and budget wisely. Building connections with locals and fellow students enriched my experience while prioritizing self-care ensured I could make the most of every moment. Looking back, I wish I had been better prepared for balancing an academic system with making time to make new experiences, just overall scheduling.

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.

As a black person studying abroad in Greece, I noticed some differences in the political climate compared to what I'm used to. Navigating political conversations here often involves discussions about immigration, nationalism, and racial tensions. For example, I found myself in a conversation about immigration policies or racial diversity in Greece with locals or fellow students. These discussions can touch upon sensitive topics like discrimination and xenophobia. Depending on the context, perspectives varied from open-mindedness to prejudice. In such situations, I approached the conversation with patience, empathy, and openness. Sharing my experiences and advocating for inclusivity and social justice helped foster understanding and positive dialogue. People are open to casual and friendly discussion about topics in the US that are “taboo” or sensitive, as many Greeks that question one another come from a place of curiosity or learning.

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:

Finances, First-time international traveler, Greece-based traveler, Mental health, Religion, Student of color

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

One significant cultural experience could be attending a traditional Greek festival or celebration. Whether it's the lively music and dance of a local taverna or participating in the vibrant festivities of a religious holiday like Easter, you would have the opportunity to witness firsthand the strong sense of community and hospitality that Greeks are known for. Their sharing culture, being invited to eat food, talk with strangers, feeling safe and welcome.

Favorite food in Greece?

Halloumi cheese

Favorite class you took at CYA?

Sociology of Dissent

Favorite quote from abroad?

"When life gives you lemons, go to Greece and make souvlaki."

What extracurricular activities were you involved with in Greece?

I was involved a lot with planned student of color events, moving nights, potlucks, ethnic neighborhood walks, dinners, all for students of color

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