Hola chicos y chicas - bienvenidos to my blog! My name is Emily and I am one of the lucky few studying in Granada, Spain for the full academic year. I fell in love with this beautiful city on a high school trip with my Spanish class, and from that moment on, I set my heart on studying abroad here with IES Abroad.
I've spent the past two summers in Sevilla, which was a marvellous, transformative, and hot experience. Sevilla is where I fell in love with Spain - the intense energy in its streets, its warm spirit. But during that time, I would read the IES Abroad blog posts from Granada and imagine myself as a granadina, counting down the days until the fall of my junior year.
It only took a few hours in Granada for me to realize that one semester would not be enough. On my first night in town, I watched the sunset from my host family’s rooftop terrace in the beautiful Realejo neighbourhood. The next morning, I began the process of extending my stay to a full year.
And this semester I get to share my wanderings, adventures, and insights with you all! I could not be more excited to take on my role as the next Carrie Bradshaw here in Granada (minus the fabulous shoes). I hope my blog sheds a little light on Andalusian life, and life in general.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned while studying abroad, it’s that life is not “on pause” when you live in a foreign country. This may seem obvious, but it’s often easy to think that the experiences you have in your host city are somehow disconnected from your life back home.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The experiences you have abroad, the friendships you make, are real and precious. The happy moments are profound. The heartbreaks are devastating. Your triumphs are as numerous as your failures. At times you feel frustrated, excited, bored, and intensely lonely. At other times, you want nothing more than to be alone. You will change, and your friends and family will be different when you return home.
But within this confusing jumble of emotions and introspection, you gain true independence and a stronger sense of self. And it happens even without your realization.
Which brings me to my next insight on study abroad: there is no such thing as wasted time.
As an American college student, I suffer from the need to constantly be doing something. Whether it’s studying, exercising, or going out with friends, I rarely find peace in sitting still.
But studying abroad in Spain has taught me to set aside time to be spontaneous and to let life simply happen. Now this doesn’t mean you should you watch three hours of Netflix alone in your room each day, waiting for great experiences to come to you. But sometimes an afternoon spent watching Spanish reality television with your host mom is just as beneficial as attending that cooking class or checking out that new nightclub down the street. The key is to be open to all experiences. Try new things. Talk a lot, but listen more. If you can practice these philosophies, you will be surprised what comes your way.
That being said, I did take some time, during my long, snow-induced delay in JFK airport, to write down my goals for the second semester. I won’t bore you with the whole list (and, ok, some are a little embarrassing), but here are some ways I hope to become even more granadina this semester:
- Become a regular in one of Granada’s tapas bars or cafes
- Make a group of close friends in my Colegio Mayor (residence hall)
- Spend two days each week without speaking, reading, or listening to English
- Go to at least one museum, concert, and theatre production every month
- Learn how to play a little Flamenco guitar
- Join a running club
- Take a small siesta most days of the week :)
The list goes on. And while this may already seem like a lot, I know that just by keeping these goals in mind, I will have many more amazing experiences than I could ever plan for. And I’m thrilled to take you all along for the ride.
As I sit here in one of my favorite cafes in Granada (more on this in posts to come!), I challenge myself to dig deeper this semester, to reach out more, and above all else, to breathe and take it all in - the mundane along with the unforgettable.
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<p>Hola caracolas! My name is Emily and I'm studying abroad in Granada, Spain for the 2017-2018 academic year. I'm a Spanish and International Studies major who is always looking for new ways to connect with my beautiful host city. I love to sing, play guitar, act, and have embarked on the journey of writing a historical fiction novel about Granada! In my free time, I love to run and hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains, get lost in the Albaicin, and explore new cafes and tapas bars with my friends. This semester I hope to try my hand at Flamenco guitar, take more siestas, and make even deeper connections with the city and its people.</p>