Gap Year Programs

Fall 2020 Gap Program

September 21 - November 28 (10 Weeks)

Learning from the Ancients: a Hands-on Approach to Life from the Ancient Times to Today's Healthy Living


A program ideal for young students who want to take a break before college/university in order to engage in educational, cultural, and physical activities on subjects of interest to them - an exceptional way to enrich your academic and life experiences.


Nothing ever becomes real till experienced

-John Keats


CYA is offering a Gap Year program to all those who are passionate about antiquity and health practices. By studying the lives of the ancients, we can further understand our own quest for health and wellness.

This unique 10-week program explores the relationship between ancient Greek practices and modern-day health and wellness via hands-on, experiental learning.  Through excavating in the Athenian seaside suburb of Voula, exploring modern Athens, and tending the Hippocrates Garden on the island of Kos, you gain an understanding of both the ancient and modern, based on personal experience. Greek language, culture, dance, and culinary workshops immerse you into Greek life, while tripsto Delphi and the Peloponnese will allow you to broaden your perspective and expand your worldview.

Program Highlights

  • Participate in an excavation of a 2000-year old site at the outskirts of Athens.

  • Visit the island of Kos, the birthplace of Hippocrates, father of Medicine, and work in a traditionally-tended garden to learn how today's pursuit of healthier living and natural healing is consistent with ancient practices.

  • Participate in excursions to sites such as Delphi, Epidaurus, Mycenae, ancient Olympia.

  • Explore Athens, a modern & vibrant city where today's life is intertwined with its glorious past.

  • Take day trips to nearby sites such as the site of the battle of Marathon of 400 B.C. and the origin of today’s Marathon runs.

  • Visit an organic farm to learn how traditional agricultural practices are being incorporated in today’s organic farming. 

What’s Included in the Program

  • Visits to sites, museums, and points of historical and cultural interest: the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, Historical Walking tour of Athens, Graffiti Tour of Athens, with on-site instruction by CYA faculty.

  • Visits to landmarks and points of interest such as the Greek Parliament, the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, the  Presidential Guard Barracks, etc. guided by CYA faculty.

  • 4 weeks participation in the excavation at Aixonidai Halai in the Athenian suburb of Voula under the instruction & supervision of CYA faculty and the Director of the Excavation.

  • 1 week participation in Laboratory work related to findings at Aixonidai Halai, guided by CYA faculty.

  • 1 week participation in the activities of  Hippocrates Garden on the Island of Kos.

  • 4-day Field Study trip to the Peloponnese Peninsula 

  • 2-day Field Study trip to Delphi

  • 1-day Field Study trip to Marathon, site of the ancient battle and the starting point of today's Athens Marathon Run.

  • Entrance fees to all sites and museums visited in the course of the Program

  • Workshops in Athens and Kos Island (Greek cooking, Greek dancing, tending herbs & planting seeds, etc. )

  • Transportation during all trips as well as to/from the excavation site

  • Housing in CYA apartments in the residential neighborhood of Pangrati in Central Athens

  • Hotel accommodations while on overnight Field Study trips and on the island of Kos

  • Lunch on weekdays in the CYA cafeteria while in Athens

  • Breakfast daily during overnight Field Study trips

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily while on Kos island

  • Orientation and acculturation activities such as Modern Greek language and culture classes by CYA faculty

  • Health insurance by CISI (including medical treatment for COVID-19)

  • Certificate for the excavation work

  • Pre-departure material

  • Arrival day airport meet-and-assist service

  • Use of Library materials

  • Free Internet access in the CYA computer lab as well as free Wi-Fi for laptop users throughout the Academic Center and in the student apartments.

  • Assistance in obtaining a Greek SIM card

  • Student support services 

Program Fees : $9,950

Program fees do not cover personal travel (including travel between home and Athens), meals other than those mentioned above, costs associated with obtaining a visa (if one is needed), personal belongings insurance, medical care not covered under the program's health insurance, personal expenses and incidentals.

Payment Schedule

A deposit of $600 is due within two weeks from the day of acceptance to the Program.  Balance is due by August 21.
Checks should be in US dollars and made payable to College Year in Athens, Inc. For questions on any matters concerning finances, please e-mail the Bursar,  bursar [at] cyathens [dot] org. 

Cancellation Policy

Due to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CYA has amended its Cancellation & Refund Policy for Fall 2020 as follows:

In the event that a student withdraws from, or CYA cancels, the Fall 2020 program prior to Arrival Date, CYA will refund 100% of all monies received, including the $600  deposit.

Students who withdraw on or after the official arrival date in Athens will receive refunds according to the following schedule:
20% during the first two weeks. No refunds thereafter.

Course Details

Course Dates:  September 21, 2020 – November 28, 2020
Duration of course: 10 Weeks
Enrollment: This course requires a minimum enrollment of 10, with a maximum enrollment of 16.
Participant should be at least 18 years of age when arriving in Athens.

Essential Information

The course starts and ends in Athens . Transportation from your home country to Athens and back is the responsibility of the student. Transportation between Athens and Voula, as well as between Athens and Kos and during excursions is included in the course fee.

Enrolled students will have access to detailed information prior to departure that will include directions to the Academic Center and other practical information about the course. CYA recommends the following websites for general information about Athens and Greece: and; and about Kos:


The CYA Academic Center is located next to the Athens Marble Stadium and houses classrooms, the library, the student lounge and cafeteria, computer facilities (including wireless access for those students who choose to bring laptop computers), laundry facilities, and administrative offices. The Academic Center is accessible Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., and Sunday 5:00-9:00 p.m.

Housing & Meals

Students are housed within walking distance of the CYA Academic Center in CYA student apartments located in the Pangrati neighborhood of central Athens. CYA apartments are simply furnished and equipped with a full kitchen and air-conditioned bedrooms. Towels, linens and housekeeping service will be provided. 

While the group is in Athens, a full mid-day meal will be served weekdays in the CYA cafeteria between the hours of 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Hotel accommodations on overnight excursions will be in simple 2- or 3-star hotels, double- or triple-occupancy, in air-conditioned rooms with breakfast included.

On the island of Kos, accommodations will be at the Small Village Hotel, in close proximity to Ancient House-Hippocrates’ Garden and 800 meters from the beach.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served daily.


Contact CYA's North American office at gapyear [at] cyathens [dot] org with any questions regarding the Program, and submit the following by e-mail:

  • A statement of 500-800 words describing why and how this program would be a good fit for you and your interests.

  • Your Resume, which should include contact information of two references

  • A high school Transcript

Your application will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee and when it is approved you will receive a Letter of Admission by e-mail.

 Student Testimonial

My experience at the cultural center turned out to defy any expectation I half-developed on the journey there. My principle memories of the Hippocratic Garden center on Julie, an extraordinary woman who created the Center with the strength of her personality and EU funding. A poet, artist, and environmental protectionist, Julie received the first EU LEADER fund granted in the Dodecanese for the construction of the Hippocrates Garden and Cultural Center. Her creation, an extensive recreation of a 5th century Greek estate, is a testament to her conviction that Greek cultural heritage bears directly on the environmental problems faced by the modern world. In Julie’s hands, the legacy of Hippocrates (a native of Kos) realizes the synthesis of emotional and physical health and rests critically on a deep respect for the natural world. Working in the garden, I lived this philosophy with Julie for a week.
    Working in the Hippocratic Garden is a training in both Hippocratic thought and the modern environmental approach of permaculture, which aims to make agriculture self-sustaining and waste-less. Practically, this meant helping Julie create a garden that thrived without unnatural pesticides and operated according to natural laws that supported a self-sustaining and visionary approach to agriculture. Volunteers in the garden can expect a re-orientation of their normal gardening habits and an increased awareness of how small action can contribute to larger issues of environmental sustainability. Working with Julie changes your mind and her garden equally. In the process of gardening, Julie patiently and earnestly outlines the tenets of Hippocratic medical philosophy, which grounds physical health in mental health. This is accompanied by helping maintain the center’s two museums dedicated to Hippocratic medicine and philosophy, which feature items pertaining to Hippocrates’ iconography, reception in Greek history, and medical application. The recreated 5th century house allows one to imagine the life of an ordinary person in the 5th century Greek world who might have received Hippocratic teaching on a regular basis. When working with Julie, it becomes apparent that her reception of Hippocratic philosophy means that she aims to heal the planet, her community, and you personally in the same go.
    While not at the garden, my experience at the Hippocratic Center was an immersion in the kindness, warmth, and generosity of Greek hospitality. I stayed in the hotel complex owned and operated by Julie’s family, about 5 minutes from the Hippocratic Center. There, Julie and her family showed me incredible generosity in food, conversation, and accommodation. I felt warmly about Greek culture before travelling to Kos, but my stay with Julie’s family confirmed the exceptionality of Greek kindness. In the darker moments of the 2020 American social and economic crisis, I still think of the consideration, open-mindedness, and free discussion I enjoyed on Kos (in Athens, and in Greece generally).

- Alex Poston (Reed College), CYA Fall 2018
June 2020