Why Did You Choose to Study Abroad?

Katy Nave - 2015 Program Participant
GoAbroad.com


Why did you decide to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience my studies in a drastically different setting from the small liberal arts school near my home that I had attended for three years. I felt this experience would allow for some perspective and growth.


Candid in Santorini!

Why did you choose College Year in Athens (CYA)?

CYA first caught my attention because it offers an archaeological drawing course. I am an art major and have always been deeply interested in classics, so this was perfect; the class also happens to be taught by the top figure in the field. As I continued to read the course offerings, everything just sounded perfect, like it would allow me to study my favorite things with the awesome resources of Athens.

What was your favorite part about Athens?

Athens is a great city to study in, especially in a liberal arts perspective, because you have fantastic resources that relate to pretty much every field, since Athens is the birthplace of many fields. Plus, you have the added cosmopolitan and contemporary layers on top of the ancient. I may be biased in thinking that classics relates to everything, but it does! For example, another pre-med student who I studied with wrote a paper on Asklepios, the Greek god of healing and medicine for our Greek sculpture class. Athens is also a great gateway to the rest of Greece’s natural beauty, islands, and mountains; Greece is insanely beautiful.


At the Palace of Knossos in Crete

What makes studying abroad with College Year in Athens unique?

CYA is different from a lot of study abroad programs in that instead of being one of multiple locations in multiple cities with a U.S. base, it is one location in Greece that has been there for 40 years. The faculty and staff really seem tied to the program (in a good way) and there is definitely a community feel to it. We had small class sizes, students lived very nearby in a small friendly neighborhood near the center, and over our group field trips we got to spend a lot of time with the staff and faculty, so I really felt comfortable there.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The staff and faculty were amazing about answering any and all practical questions about living in Greece. Even more though, they really did seem to want us to experience Greece like a Greek. They talked to us about the customs and then helped us practice them. Quite a few times students were invited to dinner with professors and staff where they talked to us about the local foods and then ate them with us. I think this really speaks to the very engaging and personable culture of Greece and is really one of the most beautiful things about the country that I saw.

What’s one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I do wish I had taken another course, maybe a philosophy or political science course, because those seemed really interesting. I took two art history courses, Greek language, and archaeological drawing. I loved Greek sculpture with Anne Stuart so much, and archaeological drawing was a dream come true. I definitely could have made more efforts in Greek, but I would have liked another more challenging course.

Describe a day in your life as an international student in Greece.

I volunteered at the Blegen library in the American School of Classical Studies while I was there, so two days a week I’d wake up, make breakfast in our small, lovely kitchen, eat on the balcony over Eratosthenous street, grab some coffee at the bakery Kekkos across the street, then walk 20 minutes to the library. After that I’d have lunch in the academic center and then late class. Other days I’d meet my Greek sculpture class, either in the Acropolis Museum or the National Archaeological Museum, for lectures; we had views of the Acropolis pretty much the whole time!


Spring break trip to Istanbul

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

The neighborhood Pagrati that students live in has some really great cafes. I loved just walking around and finding one and, as I was taught to do, sitting for hours with coffee. I also loved walking through the National Gardens nearby.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

We had small apartments, usually four to five in each and two to three students’ apartments per building of normal residents. It was really great how we were all in close proximity. My friend had the apartment opposite me on the second floor and we’d sit out on our facing balconies talking across the street! The apartments were basic, but super functional. CYA provides a great stock of basic kitchen supplies and I loved being able to cook for myself most of the time.

Now that you’re home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?

CYA taught me to be more independent. It definitely encouraged experiencing new things and learning from the people you’re with. I’ve definitely tried to retain the beautiful openness and engaging personalities of Greek people.

Refugees turn life vests into handbags on Lesvos



Kathimerini: They are a poignant symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis: Mountains of life vests strewn on the beaches of Lesvos, and piled high at dumps on the Greek island that doesn’t know what to do with them.

Now some of those refugees are working on a solution.

A group of volunteers at a refugee shelter on the island has launched a project to make handbags, totes, and messenger bags out of the brightly colored vests, hoping to raise money for charity efforts on the island.

At a tiny makeshift workshop, Afghan tailor Yasin Samadi works with a sewing machine to make a small orange dispatch bag, as children and other curious onlookers wander in and out, drawn by the bursts of noise from the machine.



“If there’s work here, I will stay here,” says the 27-year-old from Kabul, who’s been living with his family at the shelter, known as the PIKPA camp, for 18 months. “If not, well need to leave.”

Lesvos has been at the center of the refugee crisis that escalated dramatically last year. More than 500,000 refugees and other migrants arrived to the island in 2015, nearly half the total number of people who traveled to Europe.

The numbers peaked at 7,000 per day in October, with people traveling in dinghies and boats that were barely seaworthy, and many wearing counterfeit-brand life vests bought in shops on the Turkish coast.

The bags are due to go on sale by mail-order later this month, priced between 10 and 30 euros ($11-$32.5), organizers of the project said.

Greek volunteer and English teacher Lena Altinoglou said the bag project was aimed at helping refugees cover their living expenses and retain a sense of dignity.

“These people don’t want to become beggars … It’s important for people here to able to work, create something, to make a living and help other (refugee) families,” she said.

“These life vests remind us of the crossing from Turkey to Lesbos, which is a dangerous journey. Many do reach our camp safely, but others don’t. So it’s a reminder of the need to find a better solution.”

St. Basil's Cake



Greek Reporter: On the first day of a brand new year, it is customary to take part in a sweet-tasting lucky game: cutting up Vasilopita (St. Basil’s Cake). Across the country, recipe variations are quite a few; they all have one basic ingredient though: the much sought-after flouri [golden coin]!

So, before you cut this cake, you might like to know a few things about where and how it all started!

Variations & recipes

Looking for the origin of St. Basil’s Cake custom (aka New Year’s Cake) takes us back to antiquity, when ancient Greeks would offer bread and honey sweets to honour the gods during the great agricultural festivals. This custom is observed everywhere in Greece and the variety of recipes used is closely connected to the culinary tradition of each area: sweet bread, cake or tsoureki; pastry sheet pies sweet or salty made in Macedonia and Epirus, as these two areas are renowned for their traditional pie-making. In Athens, the most popular recipe for St. Basil’s Cake is one called politiki vasilopita and the main ingredients are flour, eggs, sugar and milk: it comes in all shapes and types but usually it is a sweet puffy cake.

Recipe ingredients vary across the country. In Zante Island, bread is kneaded with yeast, almonds and spices; in Crete it is kneaded with raki (local spirit) and mastic drops. In the north of Greece, tradition calls for a pie made with sesame or a sweet pumpkin pie; in Lesvos Island it is made with myzithra cheese; in Epirus pies are filled with meat (lamb or pork), feta cheese and a sizeable portion of mint.

There are also differences in the way they are decorated. There are however common decorating elements: the new year’s number written with blanched almonds or with sugar (on a sweet St Basil’s Cake); a round cake shape; and flouri, a coin which is sometimes a gold or a silver one.

The golden coin custom

According to tradition, when St. Basil was bishop of Caesarea, the then prefect of Cappadocia claimed taxes. The scared Caesareans, following the advice of the saint, gathered whatever precious items they possessed and went out to welcome the prefect. Saint Basil managed to persuade the prefect not to deprive the locals of their jewellery. Then, the problem of returning each item to its owner arose! The saint advised the locals to prepare small pies and then he placed one piece inside each pie. Miraculously, each one got back the item they had offered!

Queen of the day

The festive table may well be laid with delicious-looking dishes and traditional sweets with honey such as mouthwatering melomakarona, fried pancakes, loukoumades and diples, yet all eyes are fixed on the queen of the day: St Basil’s Cake!

It symbolises good luck for the New Year, it is cut up by the householder immediately after the year change or on the family table at lunch time on St Basil’s feast day (January 1). Young and old, relatives and friends gather around the table and can’t wait to see who will be fortunate enough to win the lucky coin!

According to the custom, the householder makes the sign of the cross three times with a knife over the cake and then starts to cut up the pieces. The first one is for Christ, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third for St Basil, the fourth is for the house (some add a piece for the poor man). Then the pieces for the members of the family are cut by order of age. In the villages of continental Greece, the family’s livestock and fields equally get their piece; and in the islands, if the family owns a boat or a mill, they too get to have their piece of the cake!

Happy New Year!

“Greek Skies”, a time-lapse video by ‪#‎Greek‬ photographer Panagiotis Filippou (Panos Photographia ) has been included in the December Official Selection of the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards! Congrats Panagiotis!

More about the photographer here: #www.panosphotographia.com/greekskies/

This cafe in Greece is opening its doors to stray dogs every night this winter



Independent UK: A cafe on a Greek island is opening its doors each evening to let stray dogs from the local town shelter from the cold.

A picture of Hott Spott cafe on Lesbos, which was taken earlier this month, has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, with many people warmed by the kind gesture.

The cafe in Mytilene, the island’s main port and capital city, closes to customers at 3 each morning, and in turn opens its doors to dogs to sleep in the warmth.

Antonis, a waiter at the cafe, told i100.co.uk that the project has been going on since the summer.

In the city there are many dogs. When the bar closes each night, the dogs come and sleep here. We don’t have a problem. From July, every night there is a dog on the couch.

Lying just miles from the Turkish coast, the idyllic island of Lesbos has made international headlines for being at the centre of the international refugee crisis this year.

While that has affected tourism, the island’s main source of income, Hott Spott cafe has still maintained its popularity, in part because of its project with the dogs.

“Customers have no problems. It is a bit of a thing now - lots of people come with their cell phones.”

“A television company in Athens called this morning. It wants to come here and make a programme about the dogs.” -Antonis

Earlier this year, Greek charities reported that there are over one million stray dogs in the country, largely owing to the debt crisis.

Eustratios Papanis, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of the Aegean who took the original photo on 2 December, explained to i100.co.uk that since the refugee crisis, there seems to have been a real shift in the way people are now treating others - including the island’s stray dogs.

“The locals have increased levels of solidarity towards environmental and humanistic issues.”

“The new generation is more sensitive and well informed.”

San Francisco area Alumni & Friends: Mark your calendars!
CYA will be hosting a reception for alumni and friends at the AIA/SCS conference in San Francisco! January 8th, 2016.
5:30 to 7:30pm
Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
More details will be...

San Francisco area Alumni & Friends: Mark your calendars!


CYA will be hosting a reception for alumni and friends at the AIA/SCS conference in San Francisco! January 8th, 2016.
5:30 to 7:30pm
Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

More details will be sent out soon. For more information, contact CYA at [email protected]!

Farewell Dinner–Fall 2015



Ithaka, C.P. Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.