In my experience, students have the expectation that studying abroad in one country in Europe easily enables opportunities to travel to other nearby countries. I for one, thought that I would be able to go around Spain with another friend studying in Madrid, visit a family friend in Germany, and other high school classmates in England. Yet, of all of these expectations, I only really managed to make it over to Madrid—and this was largely because my flight to the U.S. was flying out of the airport there.
Turns out that travelling to different places costs a lot of planning, energy, money, and most importantly, time. It is always a trade-off to decide to spend a weekend in a foreign country, as opposed to getting to know the area of Granada. While it’s exciting to get to know other cultures and see landmark sites around Europe (and Africa), because of classes and assignments during the week—being in Granada during the weekend opens up a whole other side of the city. It was during my weekends in Granada that I was able to hike up behind the Alhambra, visit the various museums around the city, and check out live concerts or performances.
As a result, the only times that I actually left the country of Spain was during spring break, when I went to Prague, Vienna and Budapest with other IES Abroad students, and the IES Abroad-coordinated trip to Morocco—which are shown in the videos posted in this blog. Looking back, I think I really appreciated going to these particular countries, because Eastern Europe and Northern Africa boasted cultures and languages that were clearly distinct from that of Spain. In fact, though I often felt very insecure about speaking Spanish, while in these other countries it was such a source of comfort whenever I heard the slightest utterance of Spanish. Moreover, visiting places such as Turkish baths in Budapest, or the artisanal markets in Morocco also renewed my interest in similar sites in Granada.
These videos feature traditional food, castles, music, and the wonderful people I got to know along the way. While these aren’t comprehensive videos of these trips, I hope they show a little bit of the different countries I was able to visit. If there’s one thing I learned about travelling is that the journey is only as enjoyable as the people that accompany you, and it is for this reason that I am truly grateful to have been able to travel to these various places.
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<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>