Lilly Hillenburg
Student Ambassador
Email: [email protected]
School:Mount Holyoke College
Cya Term:Spring 2024
Anticipated Graduation:5/8/2025

Studying abroad with CYA gave me confidence that I will carry with me for years to come. Now that I have navigated a new culture, city, language, and country all at once, I feel prepared for any adventure that may come my way. If I am ever nervous about a trip, meeting new people, or moving to a new area, I can reflect on my time in Athens and see it as an exciting opportunity to make connections and memories. Additionally, as an anthropology student, studying abroad allowed me to apply my studies in a real-world setting. While immersing myself in a new culture, I utilized my major to help engage, ask questions, and learn more about life in Greece.

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

My advice for prospective students who are interested in studying abroad with CYA is to explore Greece and Greek life as much as you can before traveling to other places. Living in Greece as a student and becoming part of the community was the piece of my time abroad that I treasured most. I recommend going to islands on the weekends, exploring different neighborhoods in Athens, or traveling to the Peloponnese or Northern Greece as ways to see as much of Greece as possible. Before starting my study abroad experience, I wish I knew that every person's time abroad would look different. When I first arrived in Greece, I put lots of pressure on myself to make my abroad experience just like what I had heard or seen from others before. However, as I settled into Athens, I learned that traveling is best when you go at your own pace and don’t compare your experiences to others.

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:

Dietary restrictions, Finances, LGBTQIA+ student, Mental health, Post-graduate networking

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

During Carnival, I attended a parade in Athens. It was here that I was able to have one of my favorite abroad experiences. When we arrived to the community event, there were children playing, costumes, music and dancing. As the dancing continued, we were pulled into the circle and were spun around, hand in hand. Though none of us knew any of the dance's seemingly complicated footwork, our presence was welcomed with smiles and laughter as we danced in circles. After being pulled into several more circles by a woman dressed as a pirate, and another as a clown, the parade began. What I did not expect was that we were also walking in the parade. We threw candy, hummed along to Greek songs we didn't know the words to, and danced even more.

Favorite food in Greece?

Fried feta in phyllo with honey!

Favorite class you took at CYA?

Sports, Games and Spectacles in the Graeco-Roman World

What extracurricular activities were you involved with in Greece?

In Greece, I made sure to attend as many student affairs events, with Nicki, as possible. Pottery classes, donkey sanctuaries, craft nights with my classmates, and exploring new neighborhoods of Athens were just a few ways how I spent my time at CYA. Through my school, I was able to contact and visit alumni who live in Greece, many of whom attended CYA as well. This allowed me to not only learn more about life abroad as an American, but also create connections in Greece that I can always return to.

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