UMass Aerial Perspective
Student Voices

From UMass to Cyprus

Umass student wearing sunglasses, a light blue short sleeve shirt and khaki pants posing on a parapet in Cyprus

At UMass Amherst, some things are different from other schools, and at first, that can be unnerving. However, as you travel through your UMass journey, it becomes hard to imagine things being different. 

This was how I initially felt about winter break as a freshman. UMass students get the entire month of January off, so I was happy to spend time with family and relax, and I even visited hometown friends at their schools. But  I also felt like I could have made better use of my time. So once I found out about the many classes offered online and in person during winter break, I was excited to use my break this year to get ahead. 

There were many great options for classes that I could take, mostly through the University Without Walls. But what really stood out to me were the abroad programs offered during January, which allow you to be home for the holidays while making the most of your break. Specifically, I was interested in Cross-Cultural Communications in Cyprus. With that program, I could fulfill a general education requirement while on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. 

Group of UMass students in Cyprus in front of a stone building with a tower and yellow flags

I was excited to go on the trip but also nervous, as I had never been to Europe before. My concerns were addressed by the International Programs Office, which helped me organize my flight and packing. Once I arrived in Cyprus, I was blown away by my single room at the University of Nicosia, which came with a personal bathroom, television, kitchenette, and even a balcony. From there my days were full of exhilarating field trips all across Cyprus. I went on tours of cities, mountain villages, and beaches all filled with rich culture and history. Along with the guided tours, my classmates and I were given ample time to explore on our own. We shopped, mingled, and indulged in some of the best food I have ever eaten. I loved everything, but I had a soft spot for the baklava there.

In the afternoons, my group listened to a fascinating course on intercultural communication taught by Madalina Akli, Faculty Director of the Cyprus Winter Program and Senior Lecturer of International Studies in the Commonwealth Honors College. Since this class spent so much time together traveling and touring, we were all comfortable engaging in impassioned discussions about what it means to be American and how we can better understand other cultures. Now back on campus in Amherst, I’m glad that I made the most of my break. In addition to the wonderful memories, I also have more credits than most of my peers!