I cannot believe it has already, and only, been a week since I arrived in Granada, Spain, for my Spanish immersion program through IES. I say both already and only because part of me feels like I have been here for a month with the amazing amount of places I’ve explored, and the great friendships I’ve made. Meanwhile, the other part of me is still trying desperately to catch up on sleep from my incredibly long travel day on September 1st and prepare for classes to start.
Traveling to Granada
After a train, subway ride, two nearly-missed flights, a taxi, and many long delays, I arrived in Malaga, a city in the south of Spain, on September 2nd, and was welcomed by incredible warmth and views akin to coastal Florida.
In my 45 minutes of free time before a bus took a group of us students to our residence halls, or *residencias,* I took advantage of the beach that was only a five minute walk away. Although I was dead tired and had been wearing the same clothes for over 24 hours, I hiked up my pants and got in the beautiful waves of the Mediterranean. I had the courage to accept the challenge and dive right into the adventure, which set a good tone for the beginning of my year abroad in Spain.
Once our bus arrived in Granada, my new home for the year, we took a taxi to our student residencia, called Tribeca, and the taxi driver made fun of us because of how big our suitcases were. I was embarrassed because I had tried so hard to pack light for my long stay, but obviously not light enough. My one suitcase and one carry-on barely fit in the trunk of the taxi!
Daily life and Orientation
In the week+ since I arrived in Granada, I have done many wonderful things, especially through the amazing IES orientation program. Our daily schedule during orientation looked something like this:
- Breakfast in your residence before arriving at the IES center downtown for Spanish and cultural lessons at 9 am.
- Take a 30 minute coffee and churro break from 11:30-noon. Then, class en la calle (in the street) to practically apply what we had learned to daily life until 1:30.
- Lunch from 1:30 to 3 pm in the residencia, followed by the commencement of the daily siesta. In Spain, siesta is the time during which all shops are closed for an extended lunch and relaxation time. Also, the streets are quieter during siesta than during the middle of the night, and lasts until around 4/4:30. Mostly only the very young and the very old actually sleep during siesta, but us jet-lagged international students took full advantage of the opportunity to catch some Zs.
Following siesta is usually a walk around the city lead by one of the orientadores or the orientation leaders who are current students at the local University of Granada. We usually hike to beautiful views of the city or try the most popular spots to grab drinks and tapas (free appetizers that come with each drink that are famously Spanish!).
If there is any time leftover in the day after the walks and tapas with the orientadores, many students have begun exploring the night culture in Granada, which features discotecas (dance clubs), bars, flamenco dancers and musicians on the street into the early hours of the morning.
Exploring the culture
In Spain, it is much more socially acceptable for any age to stay out late multiple times a week at discotecas or bars for tapas. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously complicated this cultural aspect. With the utmost of caution while I adjust and evaluate the safety situation here in Spain, as well as to shake my jetlag, I have not yet gone to any discotecas, but instead am slowly easing into the night life by trying out the tapas scene!
My favorite appetizer that I have tried yet is called patatas bravas, in which baked potato wedges are drenched in a delectable sauce with a flavor reminiscent of curry. It pairs well with a drink popular in the hot summers of Southern Spain called Tinto de Verano, which is an iced summery red wine mixed with bubbly lemon soda. It is quite refreshing after walking through the sunny city and sitting in the non-air conditioned classrooms and residencias.
The first week in review
The absolute highlight of my time in Granada so far has been the wonderful people that I have met. From my fellow IES students, the orientadores, the instructors at the IES program center, to the staff and local students in my residence hall, everyone has been so welcoming. I have learned so much and enjoyed myself thoroughly from the very start. Ari, my spanish class teacher who also lead us on many adventures in the city each day during orientation, and Kike, the chef in my residence hall who cooks us gourmet 3-course meals, have already become great friends who are very patient with me and my developing Spanish skills, and both of whom are already so invested in my adventure here in Granada. My time here, thus far, would not have been as amazing if it weren’t for their contributions.
Overall, my first week has been a whirlwind of events and excitement and new things. I am excited to share my adventures in studying abroad with you as they unfold!
|el amor de la vida||the love of life|
|patatas bravas||a tapa of curried potatoes|
|tinto de verano||a sparkling summer wine|
|en la calle||in the street|