Jessica Kleinfelder
Student Ambassador , UNC Chapel Hill

School: UNC Chapel Hill
Major: Exercise & Sport Science // Advertising + Public Relations

Miss Jessica Kleinfelder 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? 

My experience with CYA was the best decision I've ever made. The thing about studying abroad that goes unrivaled is the fact that you have an opportunity to LIVE in another country. When one visits new places - especially a new country - they typically only have time to do the "touristy" things and see the main attractions that everyone's seen on postcards. With my class, we got to road-trip all over Greece and go to and through many places, I would have never known existed. And they were SO beautiful! The huge benefit that study abroad provides is the enrichment of culture and truly getting to experience a completely different part of the world. By studying with CYA and living in Athens, I learned that Greece is home to the kindest, most hospitable people in the world. And that proved time and time again. This was a great personal awakening for me because this genuine, warm welcoming seems to be much rarer in America. The US is home to hundreds and hundreds of huge corporations but continues to penny-pinch everything they get their hands on. In Greece on the other hand, I made many life-long friends out of my cab-drivers, hosts, and waiters who went above and beyond in everything, and basically got something free with almost every meal. Study abroad was also AMAZING for my personal independence. I've only traveled out of the US once to a Caribbean island, so the metros, buses, ferries, and taxis of Europe were a whole new ball game to me. And I absolutely loved it. After conquering about every method of transportation Europe has to offer, my confidence was boosted exponentially and I can't wait to travel more on my own/with friends! Additionally, this was an academic experience unlike any other. Professor Afzal was one of the best professors I've ever had because even though he did lecture quite a bit, it was captivating and truly made me think and question things. Every other lecture class I've taken consisted of me listening for an hour and scribbling down notes as fast as I could. But this class truly challenged me to think! What made it even better was that we got to travel all around Greece and see the physical settings/context of the Bible. No class will ever compare! I also grew professionally during my time in Greece because this trip opened my mind up to so much more. I was able to have a broader scope of world topics, network with other people and classmates, and envision a future beyond the measure that I always saw confined to the US. Studying abroad was truly the best experience I have ever had.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are interested in or planning to study abroad with CYA? What do you wish you knew before starting your study abroad experience?

  1. Definitely travel on the weekends! I loved visiting Hydra & Aegina
  2. Book your flight later to give you time to travel! I went to Santorini for five days after the program ended and I wish I could've stayed forever. Definitely would've loved to travel to Italy too.
  3. Don't worry about not knowing anyone! I was lucky enough to know two people in my program, but mostly everyone else was flying solo and we all had a great time getting to know each other! Many people traveled together too!
  4. Go out to eat with your classmates! Most nights, about 10/15 members of our class would go out to dinner together, and our professor would join us too! It was a great opportunity to get to know people and try new foods
  5. Get your euros beforehand! I ordered euros through my bank before my trip and I'm so glad I did. It allowed me to budget (I knew how much I had for spending), make sure I wasn't being ripped off with rates, and not have to worry about finding an ATM or going to exchange counters in the airport when I got there.

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


Travel/Planning abroad

What extracurricular activities were you involved with in Greece?

e.g. volunteering with soup kitchen, running the Athens marathon, etc.

Attended the international church, travelled, running/exercising around town

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

On our first night in Athens, we were wandering around Monastiraki after dinner. A host named Mikel tried to scout us to come into his restaurant, Maiandros, and eat, but we explained we already had dinner. Regardless, he ended up striking up a conversation with us, asking where we were from. It turns out he had been to North Carolina a few times and we had a great conversation with him! Fast-forward through the 5 weeks we were in Greece, we passed him probably at least 10 times and every single time he remembered us, hugged us, and happily talked to us. Every time we went there to eat he took such good care of us, put us on the roof and our server gave us drinks on him. Leaving Greece, I was probably the saddest to say goodbye to our friend Mikel!

Favorite food in Greece?

Saganaki - fried cheese 🙂

Favorite class you took at CYA?

The Geography of Faith: Paul and the Emergence of Christianity in Greece (Athens, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica)


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