Expatiation: Part II

Ashley Simmons
April 11, 2016

This semester is somehow, so quickly and unfortunately coming to a close, and sometimes I wonder why I didn’t choose to spend an entire year abroad instead of only 4-5 months. My travels throughout Europe have granted me the privilege of meeting beautiful people from wonderful places and it’s intoxicating to know that I’m nowhere near being done. 

An amazing addition to the Granada program, one that definitely allows students to hone in on and expand the culture specific to Granada, is the trip to Morocco. On Thursday, I will be traveling by bus with 53 of my program members to Tarifa, Spain (the southernmost point), and then we will take a ferry the whole 42.1 km (26 miles) to Tangier, Morocco. 

Let’s just pause for a mind explosion really quick.....Africa. I’m going. To. AFRICA. (WHATTT?!?!?!) 

As if Europe wasn’t enough of an unbelievable blessing, I’m somehow going to Africa. 

Progressing past the mind explosion…

I’ve been taking quite a few classes here in Granada that I wouldn’t have anticipated taking — while of course still taking my literature class because I can’t go without my books (Women and Mediterranean Lit, it’s actually lit. Take it if you can. Just do it and enjoy the beauty that is global feminism). Though I didn’t think I would go and enroll in courses like Islamic Art & Architecture or, Media and Communications in the Arab World, I am glad that I’m taking these classes and in turn becoming more cultured. My Media and Communications class has thrown quite a few challenges at me, considering it’s all in Spanish, but I’m seeing the ways in which my minor in Media Studies is having an international voice and power. I have learned about the Arab Spring and internet censorship in the Arab world, have had the opportunity to talk with and learn from activists in Egypt and Lebanon, and contemplate the constituents of social media outlets in a setting much different than the obsessive, narcissistic one often cultivated at home. 

In Islamic Art & Architecture, I am literally learning about the history of the land I walk on. I understand the history of patterns and architectural nuances that are specific, in many ways, to Granada, and while I’ve never been one to exactly love studying History, Art History on the other hand has definitely been mind-opening. Classroom discourse permeates preconceived boundaries and follows us on our weekly trips throughout Granada and the rest of Spain (and now AFRICA!) I’m not only learning about why buildings are made the way they are, but why the Andalusian accent is so particular, and in turn, that history is ironically ever-present. It is present in the designs of the clothing and merchandise here in Granada, in the way that “gracias” turns into “grathiath” (still getting used to this one), in the beehive pattern of the muqarna of the Berber Dynasty, perpetualized in the fruit of the city itself. Unlike the United States, many "museum exhibits" here are more than accessible —  I can actually say I’ve stood inside 11th century walls. There is more history available amidst Granada than one would initially assume, if you are willing to inquire about it. 

I’m now pushing through final assignments before our trip to Morocco, but am more than excited to expand my learning here in Spain onto a whole other continent, globalizing myself in the process. Though everything is rushing by so quickly, it’s an astonishing ride and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I am nowhere near being done, this is only the beginning.

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Ashley Simmons

Ashley is the 2015-16 IES Abroad Blogger of the Year! A Junior at Brandeis University, Ashley studies English, Creative Writing, Film, Television, and Interactive Media, as well as Creativity, The Arts and Social Transformation. On campus Ashley is an English Undergraduate Departmental Representative. Originally from Washington D.C., she enjoys cooking, reading, playing the piano, playing video games, and being with her family and friends.

2016 Spring
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