Center for International Programs

Percy Jackson was 12 years old when he discovered he is a demigod son of Poseidon, god of the sea. The protagonist of the popular Percy Jackson & the Olympians fantasy novel series, which is set in a world with Greek gods in the 21st century, must prevent the Titans from destroying humanity. Matty Garcia '24 read every book in the series and enjoyed losing herself in Percy's world. The stories of the Greek gods are, of course, fiction. But, Greece is not. 

Inspired by the books, Matty chose to study abroad this spring in Athens, a bucket list dream since reading the novels in high school. Percy's adventures piqued her interest in Greece, which led her to research the Panathenaic Stadium, the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble and host to the first modern Olympics in 1896. Matty's school, CYA (College Year in Athens), is literally right next to the stadium, above.

"Greece has such an amazing history. I wanted to experience it firsthand, instead of only reading about it in textbooks. I'm getting to explore as part of my coursework. The professors are so dedicated, and they know so much about the history."

One recent class exploration was an overnight to Ancient Delphi. They visited the Sanctuary of Apollo, where pilgrims would journey to hear prophecies from the god of Apollo. The author of the Percy Jackson series wrote a follow-up series titled The Trials of Apollo. The books are written from the point of view of Apollo. Matty got to stand in his sanctuary.  

"In my Ancient Materials and Technology course, we made a candle-like device that served as the ancient Greeks first source of light. They used olive oil and animal fat to burn it. History is right next to me and all around me. Seeing all of this is insane."  

Matty Garcia '24