William McClelland
Student Ambassador

Email: [email protected]
School: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Cya Term: Summer 2022
Major: Classical Civilization
Anticipated Graduation: 5/6/2023

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?

The biggest benefits in my opinion were that it forces one to learn how to get out of their comfort zone as well as to learn how their personal experience of the world isn't universal. Spending even a single month in Greece was enough to show me how much variety of human experiences existed in the world, and it significantly changed how I saw my own life in the U.S. I learned how to compare and contrast elements of Greek and American culture in ways I hadn't thought about before, from little things like how customer service works in both places to bigger questions like how religion factors into daily life and politics. CYA also helped me with my academics in an invaluable way; as a Classics major, there'd always been a physical and mental distance between what I read on the page and my own life, but studying in Greece allowed me to bridge that gap. I can now not only visualize what I learn more effectively, but I can remember how it felt, how it smelled, and how it sounded. It's allowed me to gain a new perspective that helps me to form arguments in my work and to understand what I'm learning more completely, and I owe that entirely to CYA.

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

Be ready for culture shock, but don't be scared—embrace it! Greece is a wonderfully friendly and hospitable place, especially Athens, so it's a great place to be if you're nervous about navigating a new culture. Try to learn a little bit of Greek, even if it's just the alphabet because it will help in places where English is less commonly spoken (and it'll make some Greek people impressed, even if you just break out an ευχαριστώ or παρακαλώ!). Lastly, take advantage of your time there! I am someone who used to shut down when nervous and would often find myself torn between going out to see a site or staying in where I'd be comfortable, but I always ended up convincing myself to go out while in Greece and I'd end up having a fantastic time. There's always something new to see, always something new to learn, and Athens is by far my favorite city in the world, now. It's one of the most incredible experiences you'll ever have (if not THE most incredible), and it will change your life!

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:

LGBTQ student, Mental health while abroad

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

When we were in Iraklio on Crete, a few of us went to a small Hungarian restaurant for dinner. There was only one person working there, a Greek-Hungarian man who came by our table with menus entirely in Greek. When he found out we were American, he apologized and told us that he didn't have any English menus. We were about to try our luck with Google Translate when he told us he would read us the menu instead, and so that's what he did. Three times he went over the menu to make absolutely sure we knew what we wanted to order, and the food ended up being one of our collective favorites in Crete. It was that kind of hospitality and friendliness that we kept running into in Greece, and it's definitely marked it as my favorite place I've ever been.

Favorite food in Greece?

Souvlaki! Specifically from the restaurant Elvis in Pangrati, Athens.

Favorite class you took at CYA?

When Egypt meets the Aegean: Interconnections in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean (Thera [Santorini], Crete, Athens)

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