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29 Apr 2021

Greece: The Great Accident

[Article written by current CYA Student Dima Rentel]

I am sure coronavirus taught us all a good many things, but the primary lesson I learned was that I do not like online classes. I cannot stand them. So when my home institution announced it would have mostly online classes in the fall of 2020, I knew I needed to get creative with my studies. I had originally planned on studying in Jordan in the fall of 2020, but that program had been moved online. I looked around for a study abroad program, but, as one can imagine, there were not many options last fall! I was even considering studying in Rwanda – not because the program there was interesting to me, but simply because I knew it was operating – when my father reminded me of a program I had looked into my freshman year, a program I had forgotten about. CYA. It taught Classics, I studied Classics. It was set in Athens, I liked Athens. It was a running study abroad program, I needed a running study abroad program. I applied in August, I was accepted, and in September I was off.

CYA fall 2020 was, perhaps, some of the most memorable months of my life. By all accounts, an onlooker might have assumed it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I was sick with Covid in October, lockdowns made it very hard to interact with the local populace, and Greece made it impossible to travel outside Athens with a stick lockdown in November. And, there is no doubt, I did have challenging moments. But it was the good and great moments of the fall that far outweighed any harder moments. The other 8 students who braved the Atlantic and the virus were all so wonderful, each in their own unique way. The professors at CYA were determined to give us all a fantastic education, both inside and outside of the classroom, in true CYA fashion. The administration worked tirelessly to make sure we were still active, still engaging with our local community. And it is not like I did not get to travel around Greece – our class managed to get in all our traveling before the lockdown, thanks to the proactive planning of the CYA staff. 

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CYA Fall’20 Students on Mount Olympus (Dima on the far right)

My home institution is opening up more now, as more and more people are getting vaccinated. But, last December, I knew I was not done with Greece. I wanted to continue Modern Greek, I wanted to travel more, I wanted to engage more with the local populace (I also wanted to continue to drink the cheap and ever-delicious cappuccinos offered here). I knew I had to stay longer. And CYA continues to out-do itself in every way, always doing the absolute most with the little that Covid provides. Therefore, I opted to stay for a third semester, over this coming summer. I have designed my own program with a classmate, and we will intensively study Modern Greek (and hopefully do some island hopping on the weekends!). Greece continues to offer me so much, and CYA continues to help make it all available to me. While my first semester here at CYA may have been an accident, a chance of fate, brought about by an off-hand comment from my father, my second semester and third semesters certainly are not. 

[Cover photo: Dima poses for a photo during a CYA Field Study Trip to Delphi and Meteora. ]