Kayla Ellis
Student Ambassador

Email: [email protected]
School: Gettysburg College
Cya Term: Fall 2021
Major: History
Anticipated Graduation: 6/1/2023

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?

Studying in a different country allowed me to expand my horizons both socially and academically. Living in a new country necessitated courage and confidence even in small situations like shopping for groceries or ordering coffee. Interacting with locals expanded my worldview and communication skills. Taking classes on the other side of the world gave me the opportunity to experience the places that I’ve been studying for years. Greece specifically is full of cultural sites in which I was able to immerse myself fully. Studying in the city of Athens allowed me to be surrounded by both the history and modernity of Greece. The benefits of study abroad can be separated into those clear while away and those that only reveal themselves when the semester is over. While in Greece, I was in awe of the spirit of the city, the historical sites and museums, and the cultural attitude that I saw from day-to-day. Once I flew home, I truly realized how much studying abroad affected me. I was able to better contribute to conversations about news around the world due to my first-hand experience. I was more talkative and open to conversations with strangers even just in my hometown. I became more independent and determined to spend my time in ways that benefit me. Overall, I became both more confident in myself and more interested in the world around me after being exposed to different ways of living and learning.

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

The best piece of advice I can offer is to take advantage of every available opportunity. Specifically, go on the optional trips. The optional trips, in my case to Andros Island, Mt. Olympus, and Metsovo, Meteora, and Ionnina, were some of the most important experiences to me while I was in Greece. Optional trips contained the perfect mix of academic and cultural education. Interacting with locals, visiting sites, and experiencing the landscape made up my favorite memories from my three and a half months away. As a program, CYA draws in intelligent and curious students which meant I was surrounded by classmates that further enhanced my experiences.

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.

While this may be specific to the semester that I attended CYA, the political conversation while I was in Greece was mostly centered on the COVID-19 pandemic. I conversed with locals throughout Europe about the protocols put into place and Greece was, by far, the country where the most amount of people were observant of safety measures. In Austria, France, and Belgium, mask mandates were taken lightly and vaccines were actively fought against. In Greece, I met only people who were vaccinated and masked, as required.

Favorite food in Greece?

Gyros from Illiada’s

Favorite class you took at CYA?

To the Strongest: The Ancient Near East

Favorite quote from abroad?

"We built our houses with the stones we had" George Seferis

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