IPO News

Picture of Selene Bonafini on the steps in Cyprus

Summer in Cyprus ft. Selene Bonafini

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

After two delayed flights, a few hours on Lufthansa’s customer service line, and missing my flight in Germany, I finally boarded the plane. Getting to this point was stressful to say the least. But finally, I would get to live and study in Cyprus for the summer.

A lot of people don’t really know Cyprus, and I didn’t either, but I am glad I do now. It’s an island a third of the size of Massachusetts in the Mediterranean ocean right between Greece and Turkey.

I’m a journalism student and I wanted to study abroad to give myself a more global perspective, and honestly, just travel to cool places too. I also am minoring in sociology and art, so I took European Anthropology/Sociology and Photography courses abroad. Although these classes weren’t directly related to journalism, they were two of the most important classes I’ve taken so far. In addition to the classes, I met great friends and traveled to beautiful places. This study abroad program offered me a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience that I will never forget.


Sun shades above shops in Old Town Nicosia.


I stayed in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus. It was far from the coast and sunny beaches, but was rich with culture and life. A bus ride away from me was Old Town Nicosia. This part of the city was encased in a circle of old stone walls, dating back to the 1500s. Inside, there were narrow streets lined with shops, restaurants, museums, and a beautiful park. It seemed to me like the city never ended, with new shops and new places to explore every time I visited.

Above some of the streets were these sun shades, to keep the cobblestone road from getting too hot from the blazing Cyprus sun. Though seemingly just practical sun shades, they add color to the streets and are a signature of the city that I have yet to see anywhere else.


As a part of the program, one weekend, we went to Paphos—my absolute favorite weekend of the trip. The birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. Once we got there, I could immediately see why this was her birthplace.

My friends and I signed up for a Jeep tour of Paphos. They took us through the desert, mountains, and the beach. I was absolutely in awe of the diverse landscape and beauty in this city I had never heard of before. At the end, to wash off the dirt and dust we had accrued from flying through the desert, we visited Adonis Baths Waterfalls.

Jeep tour of the desert.


Going on spontaneous adventures like these was made possible because of my Gilman International Scholarship. Without this scholarship, I would not have had enough money to go on the program, let alone go on trips or try new things. Scholarships, like the Gilman International Scholarship, can be used for expenses outside of your program costs, like travel and activities.

Apply for the Gilman Scholarship for your study abroad here!


Graffiti in abandoned home in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.


I took European Anthropology/Sociology and an Intro to Photography course. Although these classes didn’t necessarily count towards my major, they were some of the most important classes I’ve taken thus far.

The European Anthropology/Sociology course taught us about the political issues in Cyprus, specifically the Turkish invasion and immigration in Cyprus. In 1974, Turkey invaded Northern Cyprus. Now, the Northern part of Cyprus is controlled by Turkey and the Southern part is independent, though Turkey forced all Greek-Cypriots in the North to go South.

I ended up doing my research project on immigration in Cyprus because it was so interesting to me. Researching the political conflict, the Turkish invasion, and ongoing immigration issues on the island made me realize that this place was not just a beautiful vacation spot, but also a nation with culture, controversial politics and history.

One day, my friends and I decided to cross the border into Northern Cyprus, controlled by Turkey. On the walk into town, we came across this house that was likely destroyed by the Turks in the invasion. When they invaded Cyprus, they forced all Greeks in the north out of their homes, making Northern Cyprus an exclusively Turkish-Cypriot state.

I took a picture of this graffiti and this gave me the idea to do my final photography project on political graffiti around Cyprus. I was fascinated by how the people used graffiti as a form of political protest and a way to express their thoughts. It was so fascinating to study the politics and culture of Cyprus in this unique way—through graffiti all over the island.


At the end of the day, this experience changed me and my career path for the better. If I hadn’t gone abroad, I would have never had these unforgettable memories. After taking these classes and exploring the island, I know that I want traveling or exploring to be a part of my journalism career. Not only that, but I came back to the US with friends I would have never otherwise met.

If you think you would enjoy an experience like this, get started with the study abroad process now!