My first week in Spain has been a whirlwind of sun, siestas, and sore feet. I arrived in Málaga this past Monday, and have been in Granada since Wednesday. Orientation is in full swing, and I have class from 9-2 each day to brush up on common phrases, safety in the city, and Spanish culture. I’ve found Granada to be a very open city, with friendly people and a common phrase of “no pasa nada,” or “no worries.” Life here is much slower and more calm than life in the United States, and I think this is the biggest culture shock I’ve had thus far. This slow pace manifests itself in multiple small details of everyday life: For example, to-go cups are nearly nonexistent in Granada. If people want coffee or tea in the morning, they make time to go to a cafe where they sit while slowly starting their day. On the streets, people seem to amble from place to place with no sense of urgency, and every day around 2 PM, the city shuts down for the biggest meal of the day and a subsequent food coma (the siesta). I’m already learning to love the way Spaniards seem to savor the details, and have found myself relaxing more and more as time goes on.
Another important part of Spanish life is el paseo, or the walk. People often go on walks around the city, sometimes to meet friends and sometimes simply to pass the time. Each morning, I walk about 25 minutes to class.
On Friday, our professor took us on a long walk to explore the various old neighborhoods in Granada. We first went to El Albicín, a medieval moorish area of the city with narrow, winding roads, cobblestone streets, and white-washed houses. El Albicín is situated on a hillside overlooking Granada, and some parts of it date back to the 11th century. We also had a chance to explore another neighborhood called Sacromonte. Because the neighborhood is built into the side of a mountain, many people live in caves that have neither electricity or water. The caves offer great insulation in the winter, and stay cool during the summer.
There’s also a beautiful view of the Alhambra from one of the vistas in this neighborhood, which is in the San Nicholas Plaza.
Can’t wait to keep exploring! We have a hike in La Alpujarra and a trip to Ronda and Sevilla coming up, so stay posted! Hasta luego!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Hallie Bates, and I'm currently a junior at Bowdoin College in beautiful Brunswick, Maine. I'm an Anthropology major, Spanish minor, and am also pursuing a pre-health track in order to one day attend medical school. I love to run, and can't wait to explore the trails in Granada and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. I'm excited to get to know a new city from the inside out, and want to visit as many quirky coffee shops as possible, immersing myself in Spanish language, culture and cuisine.</span></p>