Jennifer Rubin
Student Ambassador

School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cya Term: Spring 2021

Dear Jennifer Rubin, 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?

Studying with CYA is like tasting real Greek olive oil for the first time. When you first arrive, the idea of opening the bottle, visiting the country, seems overwhelming. Yet from the moment the seal is cracked, students experience enjoyment with all five of their senses. With CYA you see incredible sites filled with historical, cultural, and visual importance. From your professors you hear stories of ancient battles, modern Greek music, and the lessons that informed philosophers in the classical age. You can smell the freshly baked spanakopita wafting out of cafés, the meat grilling in souvlaki restaurants, and the fragrance of fresh flowers that fills the national garden. You taste the flavors that define Greece: feta, olives, octopus, lamb, and more. You can feel the marble of 2000 year old stone under your fingertips. You touch the reins of a donkey and the cage of an octopus as you set it free. Most importantly, Greece touches as you. I left Greece with a lifelong friends, applied medical internship experience in an Athens hospital, incredible pictures, and an appreciation for the Mediterranean lifestyle that has changed me for good. With only the aftertaste of my CYA experience left in my mouth, I wish I could rewind time and crack open that olive oil bottle once again.

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

Studying abroad is not a semester, or even a year-long experience. It is the first step in living a lifetime of cultural experiences. Some days will be harder than others. Some days you will be so floored by the sites in front of you, or of the friendships you make that you cannot believe you are the one privileged enough to live such a life. When you arrive, be open to everything. Try it all! Travel when you can, experience Athens to the fullest. But most importantly, note the pieces of Greek life that you love most and incorporate them into the rest of your life. CYA is only the beginning. Once you have lived in Greece, you never truly leave

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:

Finances while abroad, Religion while abroad, STEM major

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

It was a random Thursday night, and I was on the way to a dinner party at my friend's apartment. I was carrying two packages of challah, the Jewish bread used to celebrate Shabbat. One was for my dinner hosts, and one was for Dimitris and Katerina, the owners of Kekkos, our neighborhood bakery. I popped in to give Dimitris his bread and after hugging me tightly he brought me into the back of the shop, saying he had something set aside for me. Out of a tiny cabinet, Dimitris pulled a bag filled with jingling coins, a beautifully wrapped box, and an envelope in Katerina‘s handwriting. For the next 20 minutes, Dimitris showed me every coin in the bag: all Greek drachmas, discontinued after the currency change. He knew that I loved history and had set them aside to give me a lesson in Greek currency and cultural presents to frame when I returned to the United States. In the box was an espresso cup from the oldest coffee shop in Athens. Dimitris had bought it years before, but said he wanted me to have it as a reward for finally learning to make a good Greek coffee. And in the envelope was a beautiful mask that matched the one Katerina wore to work every day. I had complimented her on the lovely colors when I saw her that morning, and she had gone out of her way to purchase me a mask of my own. I started to cry. These café owners in my neighborhood had become my surrogate parents. They had taught me about Greek history, Greek culture, and the true kindness ingrained in the Greek people. It was a cultural experience that touched me deeply and one that I will never forget.

Favorite food in Greece?


Favorite class you took at CYA?

Greek Sculpture

Favorite quote from abroad?

"There are only two things that matter this semester: greek sculpture and feta." -Athen Hadji

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