Athens, Greece. As one of the world’s oldest cities and the largest in Greece, Athens is filled with beautiful temple, historical sites, picturesque beaches and streets full of shops. It’s a worthwhile and fulfilling study abroad destination because of all that it has to offer any student, domestic or international.
Senior Morgan Ward studied abroad in Athens in the fall semester of 2012 as a participant in the College Year in Athens (CYA) program.
The program offers classes in various disciplines, ranging from Art & Archaeology to Environmental Studies, Ethnography to History. Students also have the opportunity to study Literature, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Religion, and Foreign Languages which include Ancient Greek, Latin and Modern Greek.
Ward chose to take four classes in history and religion.
History of the Byzantine Empire was a course that encompassed the entire span of the Byzantine Empire with a focus on Ottoman Conquest.
Religion and Myth in Ancient Greece, which talked about different festivals and encompassed the religious sphere of ancient life, also brought students on various field trips to ancient sanctuaries and other historical sites.
The Middle Eastern Affairs class, Ward’s favorite course that she took while in Athens examined the time period from the Abbasid caliphate to the present, hilighting important historical events.
“[Middle Eastern Affairs] was […] my favorite class because I felt like I had a much better understanding of the Middle East and it really opened my eyes,” Ward said. “From religious conflicts to water wars, this class had something to say on all of it.”
Her fourth class was Comparative Religion, which examined three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The courses were very hands- on. For example, throughout Comparative Religion, her class took trips to a few monasteries and churches as well. “[…]It was a really intimate level of learning,” Ward said.
In addition to her schoolwork, Ward went on two weeklong trips with her CYA group.
During her first trip to Crete, the group hiked the Samaria Gorge, toured Peloponnesus, and visited Olympia, Delphi, and various ancient ruins such as Malia, Gournia, and Konosos.
In addition, she visited Santorini and visited many sites on the Island, including Akrotiri, or “the Bronze age Pompeii,” with some of her classmates. While in the Peloponnesian mountains, she was fortunate enough to go rock climbing and explored ruins left by Philip II of Macedon.
Ward was lucky to spend a lot of time exploring Athens as well.
“I made friends with some students there and it was cool to get a perspective of the riots and things going on in the country from someone my age,” she said. “I also went to a few protests myself, to observe.” She, along with a few other students, took part in a peace demonstration organized by EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, “a french-based activist group”).
“It was an amazing experience as people from all over the EU came in support of the movement.”
She also volunteered at the Athens Classic Marathon.
She still keeps in touch with the people she met there and plans to use these connections to go back to Greece and teach English.
“Study Abroad was an amazing experience and I would encourage anyone and everyone to at least look into it,” she says. “It’s an experience of a lifetime, and you learn so much about yourself and the world around you when you are taken out of your comfort zone.”
Kanakam is a member of the class of 2017.