Being in a new place, alone in a new country, is a big change. A lot of things are different, such as the culture, but also what you see. One of the things that still surprises me even after being here for so long are the amazing sites I see almost every day. Seeing things like this all the time is not as common back in Michigan, so it’s something that I still find exciting!
CYA And What’s Around
CYA has three academic buildings next to one another in Pagrati. It is an amazing location because it lies between a large residential area and the Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium is a big tourist destination. The site dates back to 330 BC, was recreated by the Roman Empire in 140 AD, was reconstructed and used for the 1896 Olympics, and is still used today. It’s a crazy sight to see every day, one that I am still not used to. I like hanging out both in and next to the stadium with friends as a quiet and peaceful relaxation spot. Also, being able to look out a classroom to see a sight like this is absolutely insane, something I never would have imagined!
Another fun sight to see nearby is the National Garden. The garden is across the street from the academic buildings and has so many uses. I’ve seen people use the space for concerts, book fairs, art fairs, and workout sessions. Even my professors try to have class in the garden! The garden contains many types of trees and some of the most colorful flowers I have ever seen. My favorite thing about the garden are the animals that call the place home, such as the tortoises. They are such a crazy thing to see as they roam around freely, doing whatever they want. I remember seeing a tortoise for the first time in the garden and thinking “oh wow!” while everyone around me barely noticed.
Sights on a Walk
I think one of the most amazing things about living in Athens is how casual it is to come across historical sites. Whenever I have class at CYA I can see the Parthenon on the Acropolis above the city. Who knew that I could be in class and look out the window to see an incredibly historical monument?
The same can be said whenever I walk or take the metro to a museum or another site for class. Many of the metro stations have uncovered archaeological sites that remain for public viewing. Even when you don’t take the metro, it’s easy to end up walking next to a site, such as the Ancient or Roman Agora, the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, or the Arch of Hadrian.
There are smaller sites that can be found around the city and viewed for free. Some surround the Acropolis, such as buildings or columns which date back to the Roman Empire. It’s a crazy and unnatural feeling! One second you’re looking for a place to get food and the next second you’re standing next to a historical site that dates over 2,5oo years ago!
The feeling of excitement every time I walk by one of these sites is something I can never fully express. I know it’s cliché, but it’s something that isn’t necessarily explainable, but an experience that people need to have. These feelings can happen with any study abroad program, as each country has its own expansive history for people to experience. It’s because of this that I recommend studying abroad if you have the opportunity. It’s a big change, but one that is extremely memorable and one that you will never regret.