20 Times I Was Grateful for Doing a Study Abroad in Granada:

Andie Ayala
May 23, 2018

While I was always bent on doing a study abroad while in university, I wasn't really particular about where I ended up. Though I decided to do the program in Granada rather arbitrarily (since I knew one person who had done it before), my experiences during the past semester have definitely confirmed that Granada was a great fit for me. Here are just twenty moments when I was grateful that I ended up spending my study abroad in this small city in the south of Spain. 

1. When I came home to find my homestay mother doubled over laughing, five bottles of beer on the table, singing her heart out during a karaoke session with her friend 

Although you'll hear people complaining about the economic crisis in Spain, or recent changes in weather, it seems that these events don't prevent Spaniards from having a good time and celebrating life together.

2. When going out for tapas meant paying $3 for a whole cup of wine, and my preferred vegetarian dishes: tortilla de patatas or pisto

Granada is known for the incredible deal of drinks accompanied by free tapas. Despite the great price, often times, customers aren’t able to choose own their tapa dishes, so it’s always a fun to surprise to see what one will eat each day.

3. When I discovered hiking trails to the incredible olive gardens in the mountain behind the Alhambra, which featured a perfect view of the Sierra Nevada mountains

4. When my psychology professor took the class out to the famous Los Italianos gelato store on a beautiful blue-sky day in Granada

Started by Italian immigrants, Los Italianos is a renown ice creamery in the center city that sells ice cream for one euro. It is said that even Michelle Obama visited the heladaria when she visited Granada. 

5. When I found a route to my class in the University of Granada that passed through the charming streets of the Albaicín

The Albaicín is the oldest neighborhood of Granada, founded by the Zirid monarchs. where it is common to see street markets and flowers hung on walls. The University of Granada dominates the scene of Granada, since there are about 80,000 students who come from all over Spain, as well as Europe and the U.S. with study abroad programs. 

6. When I went on a hike in the more rural Sacromonte area of the city and came across an actual granada tree in Granada

The city of Granada was renamed after the fruit granada, which translates to pomegranate. While the fruit is carved into many lampposts and buildings around the city, it doesn’t actually typically bloom until autumn, so it is a rare sight to see in the spring time.

7. When I first witnessed the complex music and dance of the Grenadian Flamenco

Grenadian flamenco is an incredibly passionate dance, which was developed from the gypsy communities living in the Sacromonte caves, it is composed of either 12, 4 or 3 beats. 

8. When I finally bought tickets to the Alhambra palace, and the gorgeous gardens in the Generalife

Since a trip to Granada is incomplete without visiting the Alhambra, and the site is one of the most visited tourist spots in all of Spain, entrance tickets need to be bought at least a month in advance.

9. When I went out for lunch during Día de la Cruz to find all these little girls dressed in flamenco outfits, and the major plazas of Granada decorated with colorful flowers and crosses

The Day of the Cross is one of the most popular festivals in Andalucia, during which Granada women and children dress up in typical andalusian dresses, and the city councils holds a competition for the best decorated patios, streets and squares, shop windows and schools.

10. When hundreds of people dressed up, made posters and marched on Gran Via street for Día de la Mujer 

This year, people all across Spain organized a labor strike and several marches on the International Day of Women to demand gender equality.

11. When I could study for my final exams on the weekend while tanning in beaches close to Granada

Granada is uniquely positioned a 30 minute drive from the Sierra Nevada, and a 45 minute to the coast, which makes it easy for Granadinos visit the coast during the weekend.

12. When I was able to witness the exquisitely decorated floats of the Semana Santa processions

The province of Andalusia is known for the religious processions which occur through the course of the entire Easter Week in celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

13. When I learned about the running paths which stretch out into the valley beyond Granada

Though Granada is located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain it also extends into the Lecrín Valley, where many vegetable and flower fields can be found.

14. When my homestay mother invited me to stay at her beach house for the weekend, and we were able to enjoy a cup of tinto de verano and a great dish of homemade paella

The iced tinto de verano (literally translated to ‘red wine of summer’) is Spain’s go-to beverage for warm weather, while paella is Spain’s most internationally famous dish, which originated in Valencia.

15. When one of my assignments for my watercolor class involved painting by the bridge above the río Genil

One of my favorite classes this year was watercolor, because we were highly encouraged to paint images that we saw in real life, and Granada never ran out of picturesque areas to behold. The río Genil and río Darro are the main rivers which frame the city.

16. When I found a café which had the perfect combination of sunlight, wifi and a good deal of tostadas and café con leche

A very typical Grenadian breakfast is composed of coffee with milk pieces of toast, and a tomato olive spread

17. When I learned that certain carmens in the Granada had free entrance and went on a photo walk with a friend to explore one (shoutout to other IES Abroad blogger Hannah Geller). 

Carmens are rustic houses characterized by grape vines, fruit trees and fountains, they come from the Arabic term karm, meaning vine. The particular Carmen in this photo formerly belonged to painter Max Moreau, who’s house became a museum after he died.

18. When certain fruit seasons in Spain (especially strawberry season!) meant being able to make amazing combinations of yogurt in the morning

19. When my homestay mother invited multiple people from the program over for a 20s themed party, which featured a lot of singing and sangria

For some reason or the other, Granadinos like to host costume parties and drink sangria, and my homestay mother was no exception.

20. When watching the incredible sunset over Granada from the numerous mirador spots around the city

Although the Mirador de San Nicholas is the most famous since it has a view of the Alhambra, this particular viewpoint had an opposite view of the Albaicín. It's truly incredible to be able to see the warm glow of the sun against the white facades of these old buildings.

Andie Ayala

<p>I'm from the Philippines, and enjoy hearing other people's stories, especially through videos, books, journalism, midnight conversations, meals, long runs or road trip. I am especially interested in how to create environments of empathy. I took a gap year before entering university in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, which very much opened my eyes to see the beauty in the world and in other people.</p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
Princeton University
Manila, Philippines
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