So, first and foremost, it’s been almost 2 months since I last wrote—whoops. Somehow, between the tintos and tapas, the weeks slipped by and its now nearly November. Now that I’ve found my rhythm here, though, I figure its high time to update my status.
Arrival, at this point, feels far away. Over the course of my time here, there have been the normal ups—like hiking Mulhacen, the tallest peak in the Iberian Peninsula—and downs—like getting my phone stolen—but, through all of it, I think that I can now say that Granada was the right choice for me. The city is, in a word, enchanting: it’s easy to lose oneself in the web of narrow cobbled alleyways that crisscross the city, stumbling across upon a charming nook or cranny with a thousand-year story. My daily walk to IES Abroad, for instance, takes me through the steep streets of the Albaicin—constructed by the Muslim taifas in the 11th century, it’s the oldest (and best defended) neighborhood of Granada—where my ascent is rewarded by a panoramic vista of the city.
Above all, I’ve discovered a somewhat surprising love for the Spanish language. I say surprising because, in high school, there was little I detested more than my language classes: memorizing conjugations and dreary vocabulary was contained to an hour and a half block, after which Spanish had no use in my day-to-day life. Here, though, the language comes alive—and the progress is immensely satisfying. My daily Spanish class builds a grammatical foundation, while the rest of my classes (also in Spanish) reinforce comprehension. Without the pressure of grades (my college has a policy of pass-fail while abroad), Spanish acquisition has been surprisingly enjoyable, and something tangible I know I’ll be grateful to bring home from study abroad.
At the same time, though, I find myself missing the comfort of home. The sheer number of opportunities here are overwhelming: there are cities to travel to, restaurants to try, people to meet (not to mention the people you want to stay in touch with from home), and a million and one extracurriculars in which to participate. Study abroad is full of expectations, and a part of my experience has been understanding that not all those expectations will be met. While going out and speaking English with other IES Abroad students is comfortable and familiar, it takes time away from the opportunity to get to know native Spaniards. Traveling during weekends has given me the opportunity to experience and compare vastly different locales throughout Europe, but at the cost of getting to know the neighborhoods of Granada as intimately as I would like to. Study abroad is a practice in opportunity cost, and the pressure to “make the most of my time here” hangs over my head almost constantly.
But remembering that study abroad is a marathon, not a sprint, is a helpful adage that I try to remember whenever the all-too-familiar tendrils of FOMO creep in. However I decide to spend my study abroad is valid, and if that means listening to my body and staying in for an early night’s rest, so be it. Taking care of myself in a foreign environment, despite pressures to “make the most of it,” has been immensely difficult, but a skill I’m proud of having practiced while here.
Before I wrap up, I promise that I won’t wait another 2 months to write my next post. Until then, besos from Granada <3
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Hola! My name is Caroline (she/her), and I am a rising junior at Bowdoin College studying History and Economics with a minor in Mathematics. Beyond the classroom, I’m a Wordle enthusiast and love spending time outside (though I am a notoriously slow walker). Another fact about me--I love the em-dash. Looking forward to sharing a sliver of my life here in Granada!