Lelaila Bridwell
Student Ambassador
Email: [email protected]
School:Wellesley College
Cya Term:Spring 2024
Major:Anthropology, Political Science
Anticipated Graduation:5/15/2025

I have grown so much during my time abroad, and I think it is a valuable experience that all college students should consider. Academically, studying abroad introduced me to new subjects, different styles of learning, and a wider range of knowledge and opinions than what I was exposed to at my home institution. For example, learning about the EU while in a country that is part of the EU is much different than learning about it from an outside perspective. Similarly, learning a foreign language while being immersed in that language is much different than learning it in a strictly academic setting. In both these examples and more, I feel my learning was enhanced by the different perspectives and environment while in Greece, and I don't think I could have pulled the same kind of knowledge from a similar class in the US. Additionally, because my study abroad experience was my first experience outside of the US, I also gained a lot personally from the semester. I learned how to communicate and connect with others despite language and culture barriers, and I learned how to get out of my own comfort zone and adapt to local cultural norms. I also grew in independence and self-sufficiency; I learned to navigate unknown situations on my own, and had to completely provide for myself in the context of living in an off-campus apartment.

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

For prospective students, especially when they are browsing or choosing CYA courses, I would encourage them to really think about how their classes at CYA will be enhanced by the fact that they are studying in Greece, and to choose classes that will teach them things that they can't necessarily learn in the US. This was a huge priority for me when I was choosing my courses, and I am glad that I signed up for classes that were out of my comfort zone and used Athens itself as a classroom. One thing that I wish I had considered before starting my study abroad experience is the type of campus/living environment that I was seeking. While there are definite benefits to the integration of CYA within the local community (i.e., not a separate "campus," apartments alongside Greek families), there were also some instances where I missed a more coherent, university-style living situation. I am ultimately glad that I chose CYA for my study abroad experience, but students who are more attached to a college campus environment might want to take that into consideration when deciding which program to study abroad with.

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.

The political climate in Greece and at CYA was much different from my home institution. Overall, I would describe Greece as more conservative than my school in the US, but not in a negative way. I realized that my home institution is overwhelmingly and uniformly liberal, and it was nice to hear a broader range of opinion in my classes at CYA, and to be able to discuss them without restraint or fear of judgement. One time, I was having dinner with a group of CYA students from Wellesley and a few Wellesley alumni living in the Athens area. During the meal, a discussion arose about Wellesley's status as a women's college and its use (or non-use) of gender-inclusive language. Many of the alums expressed a strong attachment to Wellesley's status as a women's college and were opposed to altering its admissions policy or the language used to describe the school. Anyone who expresses this opinion at my college would be (and have been) shut down and silenced, so it was nice to have such an open and honest conversation about it with these alums in Greece. Overall, I would describe the political climate in Greece as much more open, heterogeneous, and conducive to discussion. If you want to stay within your own political bubble, Greece may not be for you--but for anyone who is open to being confronted with different opinions and having your own way of thinking challenged, Greece is a great place to be.

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, Dietary restrictions, Finances, First-time international traveler, Mental health, Religion, Low-income student

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

I went to the midnight resurrection service for Orthodox Easter, and it was such a surreal experience. Though I was unfamiliar with the language and the traditions, I learned so much just from attending and observing the service. Though there are so many differences between the Greek Orthodox Church and my home Church, celebrating Easter alongside all of the Greek families and immersing myself in their traditions was a very uniting experience.

Favorite food in Greece?

Not a food, but my favorite drink in Greece is the Freddo Espresso. I was never a fan of coffee in the US, but I very quickly became addicted to the Freddo Espressos from Kekkos cafe.

Favorite class you took at CYA?

My favorite class was a religion class called The Orthodox Church. As a Christian within the Protestant denomination, it was so interesting to learn about how the Christian faith is practiced in Greece and compare it to my own experience. We also got to visit several Churches and Monasteries with the class, which was so valuable to my learning. And Despina, the professor for the class, was incredibly welcoming and treated us all like family.

Your name: *
Your phone: *
Your e-mail: *
Contact Preference:
Title of Message: *
Text: *
Our company collects this data to be able to provide services to you. We process this data according to our Privacy Policy. If you consent to our usage of your data, click this checkbox.