Mia Iannios
Student Ambassador
Email: [email protected]
School:George Washington University
Cya Term:Fall 2023
Major:International Affairs
Anticipated Graduation:5/25/2025

Studying abroad with CYA was truly an experience like no other and is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Spending a semester abroad comes with a wide range of benefits, such as making new friends, experiencing different cultures, cultivating a sense of independence, and learning how to multi-task many elements of life.

Firstly, the friends I made here are people I know I will stay in touch with far beyond our time abroad. Seriously - as cheesy as it sounds - my best girlfriends and I all promised each other we'd all be invited to each other's weddings. That's how deep the bonds we've created go!

Secondly, the Greek culture is like no other, and made my study abroad experience feel very unique compared to what it would've been like to study in another European city. Greece and Athens have a much less Western vibe and have a distinct culture unlike any European country I've visited, and I've been to 8! The language, the food, the laid-back lifestyle, the friendliness and the generosity I encountered while living in Greece all contributed to the country's distinct culture and made it a home like no other.

Thirdly, studying abroad had allowed me to feel so much more independent and confident in myself. Learning important skills such as budgeting, safety, trip planning, and balancing my academics with travel has taught me so much about how I want to continue to carry myself in the world, and I feel confident after this experience that I could live abroad for a much longer period of time and successfully plan travel for others and myself!

Lastly, I have learned the important skill of multi-tasking through blending all of these elements together in my life. Being in school in a foreign country can be challenging, but CYA gave us the tools we needed to succeed. While school was a priority, I never felt too stressed about it getting in the way of my other commitments. I was even lucky enough to find an internship at a local environmental non-profit through CYA and feel like I have gained so much both academically and professionally. Learning to balance these commitments with weekend travel and time with friends felt very feasible, and I feel I was able to take the trips I wanted to take while also making sure to attend all my classes and be present for my internship.

Ultimately, studying abroad at CYA is an experience I would do again 100 times if I had the chance, as it had allowed me to grow so much as a person and has given me people and memories I will never forget.

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

If I could go back in time and prepare myself for my semester at CYA, this is some of the advice I would give: - Come in with an open mind - that means being open to making friends with different people than you might usually be friends with, trying new activities, foods, experiences, and being willing to interact with the Greek culture. - You aren't going to come out of your semester fluent in Greek, but it's important to use the language in any way you know how to, in order to connect with the local community. I wish I had pushed myself more to use the language every time I went out to eat, ordered something from a coffee shop, etc. - Remember to be present and take each day as it comes. You are going to want to spend weekends traveling around Greece and maybe even beyond, but don't allow yourself to get so caught up in travel that you aren't able to appreciate your time spent in Athens. - Accept that you will have good days and bad. While studying abroad in Greece is an incredible and life-changing experience, it's okay not to feel perfectly happy 100% of the time. You are navigating a lot of unfamiliar territory by living in a new country and it's completely valid to have off days or moments when you don't feel yourself. The most important thing in these moments is to prioritize self-care, whether that be spending time by yourself, going for a walk, attending a yoga class, or calling your family/friends at home. - Lastly, stay true to who you are, but don't be scared to explore new parts of yourself! Living in a new place with different kinds of people can bring out different sides of your personality, so don't be afraid to develop new interests, and friendships, or to try on different versions of yourself. That is what living in an unfamiliar place is for - you can be whoever you want 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:

Dietary restrictions, Finances, First-time international traveler, Greece-based traveler, Mental health, Post-graduate networking

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

Getting to visit Sparta, Greece, the city where my ancestors are from!

Favorite food in Greece?

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Favorite class you took at CYA?

Sustainable Social Housing

Favorite quote from abroad?

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