• The NYU in Athens summer study away program is a unique six-week program in Greece bound to impact any student’s academic and personal growth. It changed my perspective on college and life in the best way possible.
  • The cultural immersion, academic opportunities, and lifelong friendships that Athens brings to NYU students are beyond imaginable. I’m forever grateful.

Maybe you’ve only thought about studying abroad for a semester or didn’t even know you could do it over the summer. Nevertheless, there’s a secret study away site waiting for its next batch of students, and you could be a part of it!

In December of last year, I stumbled upon a hidden study away program, NYU in Athens. Without hesitation, I completed the application and waited for two months until the priority deadline passed. I’ll never forget receiving the acceptance email during a lecture.

From that moment on, I had a lot to accomplish, from obtaining my first passport to taking my first flight. The anticipation before the 10-hour flight from New York City to Athens was almost unbearable. However, before I knew it, I landed and was on my own. Don’t get me wrong; it was a bit nerve-racking initially, but I was in Greece, and I knew I could handle it.

A street in Athens, Greece.
A street I always passed by on my way to class.
The author and a friend stop to take a picture with a stray cat in Athens, Greece.
There were cats everywhere in Greece, so my friends and I always stopped to take pictures.

Discovering Athens Through NYU

Upon our arrival at the first hotel, we had a mandatory welcome dinner, which turned out to be fantastic. It allowed us to meet everyone in the group. Surprisingly, we were a group of 21, unusual for study abroad programs, but by day three, we were all best friends.

In Athens our living arrangement was unique. Since Athens is a summer study abroad location, there are no dorms. Instead, we stayed in two hotels: the first before our first major excursion to Crete, and the second upon our return. You’ll have a roommate, providing an instant friend as you adapt to the new country. Commuting to class is easy. Throughout your time in Athens, your commute is anywhere between five to 15 minutes from your hotel to the academic center.

The program lasts six weeks, which feels like a lot of time and too little time. We packed so much into those weeks that it felt like we experienced everything, yet I missed the daily routine. Your instructors are NYU professors with deep ties to Greece, and some don’t teach at the NYU campus in New York City, which is fascinating.

The program concludes as it began, with a farewell dinner. The last day is bittersweet, starting with finals and ending with everyone sharing their cherished trip memories.

The author and her friend Aurora enjoying a movie in their hotel in Crete, Greece.
My friend Aurora and I having a movie night in Crete.
The author and some friend enjoying gelato in Paros, Greece.
My friends and I getting gelato before taking the ferry from Paros back to the mainland.

A City of Courses Await

All your classes will occur at the NYU in Athens academic center, which spans three floors. The basement houses the library, a favorite hangout spot due to the air-conditioning that helps combat the heat. On the 1st and 2nd floors, you’ll find the classrooms for all the available courses.

You’ll have an array of course options to choose from. Consider Archaeology in Greece, where you can present at archaeological sites. Explore the city itself through The City of Athens course. History enthusiasts might enjoy the History of Modern Greece, or they can add a twist with the Greek Hip-Hop class. If you’re interested in the Greek language, you can take Elementary Greek, and for those who prefer Greek translations, you can explore Greek Drama.

There’s a class tailored to everyone’s interests! You must take a minimum of eight credits, equivalent to two classes. However, you have the freedom to audit any classes you wish. Some of my friends even decided to audit Elementary Greek two weeks into the program because they wanted to delve deeper into the language.

The NYU in Athens cohort attend a concert conducted in Greek.
This is one of the first concerts we went to. The entirety of it was in Greek.
A performance in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.
We saw a performance in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.

Exploring Grecian Treasure Troves

NYU in Athens offers unique excursions included in the program’s tuition, so there are no extra costs to worry about.

The first excursion takes you to the Acropolis and its museum, a vital bonding experience and a chance to witness a historic landmark you’ve likely heard about your whole life. Personally, I’d dreamed of visiting the Acropolis since childhood, and the fact that I experienced it up close on the third day of the program was truly amazing.

You’ll explore numerous museums throughout Athens. The Greeks excel at preserving and reflecting on their history. The National Archaeological Museum is the most well-rounded and organized museum I’ve ever visited. It’s divided into different time periods of Greek history. We visited a week before our finals, making it a fantastic review experience. I even had my friends following me around as I showcased what I’d learned.

Other daylong excursions featured unique performances, such as Songs of the Greek People—Drag Oratorio, a drag show, a visit to Aristotle’s Lyceum (the first school), and a chance to enter the Hellenic Parliament debating chamber, where representatives sit. All these sites, among many others, were highly informative and related to class content, no matter your chosen courses.

The program includes two all-day Friday excursions. The first takes you to Delphi and Galaxidi, while the second explores Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus. Archaeology students present these sites, offering direct experiences. You also have ample free time to swim at beaches and explore charming towns you visit during the day.

Surprisingly, the program features not only day trips but also multiday adventures. Our first major excursion took us to Crete for four days, with an overnight ferry ride. In Crete we explored an archaeological site of a Minoan settlement, an archaeological museum, Falasarna, a war memorial, southern Crete, and Lissos. But that wasn’t our only multiday trip. We also visited the island of Chios for three days, taking an overnight ferry there and a plane back. On Chios we explored Nea Moni and Anavatos, Cave of Olympi, Mesta, Kámbos and Pyrgi, and Mastiha, Mavra Volia, and Emporios.

The author at the Acropolis, the cohort’s first excursion.
Our first excursion to the Acropolis.
The Acropolis up close.
The Acropolis.
The Erechtheion (or the Temple of Athena).
The Erechtheion.
An amphitheater in Delphi, Greece.
Our daylong excursion to Delphi.
The author watches the sunset in Galaxidi, Greece.
Watching the sunset in Galaxidi.
The NYU in Athens cohort in Crete, Greece.
A group photo from when we visited the island of Crete.
An active Minoan archaeological site.
An active Minoan archaeological site we were able to go inside.
The NYU in Athens cohort at the Hellenic Parliament.
Our visit to the Hellenic Parliament.
The NYU in Athens cohort gathered together after a guest lecture.
Our group after a guest lecture.
The author at a little town near Chios.
A little town we visited on our last day in Chios.
A plate of loukoumades (greek donuts).
The best Greek desert ever: loukoumades.
A cool street in Chios, Greece.
Cool street views in Chios.
A black sand art village in Chios, Greece.
A black sand art village in Chios.

An Academic Odyssey

I initially applied to this study away program due to my interest in classics, which grew from my Liberal Studies Core requirements. In my first semester of my first year, I developed a passion for classical antiquity. My research project on an ancient papyrus leaf from Crete ignited my enthusiasm for this program and significantly altered my academic journey.

Classical antiquity naturally leads to archaeology, a field I never expected to embrace. However, this past summer transformed my perspective. From our very first visit to the Acropolis to my presentation of the archaeological site of Mycenae to my friends and professors, I realized that archaeology must be part of my education. An interesting fact: I received an invitation to return to Greece next summer for an excavation with my archaeology professor, cementing my academic direction.

NYU in Athens reshaped my future concentration as I transition from Liberal Studies to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. There, I will focus specifically on classical archaeology. The courses I undertook this summer not only influenced my education but also broadened my worldview. I am forever grateful for this experience.

The author presenting the site of Mycenae to her program.
Here I am presenting the site of Mycenae to my program.

Adío (Farewell)

As I mentioned earlier, the program ends with a farewell dinner, preceded by a daylong excursion. Our final archaeological site visit in the six-week journey was the Temple of Poseidon, about a two-hour drive from our hotel. The bus ride was a blast; we enjoyed karaoke and danced as the sun set. It is a truly joyful memory.

Saying goodbye ranged from farewells to friends departing early due to morning flights to a group of us waiting outside the hotel for 45 minutes at 2 a.m. because no one wanted to bid each other goodnight. It showcased our growth as NYU students and global citizens.

The journey back home stirred emotions. I met up with friends with similar flight times, bidding farewell to each one as their boarding times approached. The most surreal moment was initially taking my seat on the plane for another 10-hour flight. However, I wasn’t nervous this time; I felt completely fulfilled.

Studying abroad at NYU fosters unique lifelong friendships and experiences, but NYU in Athens takes it further. There’s nowhere else I would have rather spent the past summer than in Greece with 21 of my closest friends. NYU in Athens, thank you.

Molly Koch (they/them) is a sophomore in Liberal Studies but is planning on transitioning into the Gallatin School of Individualized Study ton study a combination of journalism, art history, and classics with a minor in archeology. Originally from Maryland, Molly came to NYU as a first generation college student aspiring to earn their degree in the city that never sleeps. When they are not working on campus as an Admissions Ambassador, Molly can be found working chapter-by-chapter on their novel or running down the West Side highway. They are an Opinion Editor for Washington Square News, a member of NYU’s Torch Chapter, National Residence Hall Honorary and a peer mentor for Project Outreach.