Before I set off for Spain, I made a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do while abroad & I was able to do almost all of them! Here is a reflection of 10 things with photos (in no particular order) that I adored checking off my list and would encourage anyone studying abroad in Spain to do.
1) Visit the Alhambra
Thankfully, I got to check this one off very pretty quickly as we went with IES Abroad during the second week of orientation. It was so beautiful. I loved learning about the history of the Alhambra from our guide and exploring the vibrant Generalife gardens, which is where the kings would go to get away from the palace affairs. If you visit, you will want to come back again and again!
2) Try paella
I also got to check this one off pretty quickly as my residence served paella! When my parents came to visit, we went to a paella cooking demonstration in Sevilla (the paella is pictured above). It was fascinating to learn about the cooking process and the history of the dish. This paella was amazing but the best I had was actually in a quaint beach town outside of Barcelona!
3) Wander the streets with no agenda
I did this so. many. times. in Granada and every other place I visited. However, I think Granada boasts some of the most beautiful and quaint streets that Spain has to offer. You can get lost in the Albaicín for hours.
4) Attend a flamenco performance
I went to two flamenco shows and would go to another in a heartbeat. The dancing, the costumes, and the emotions that the dancers express are all breathtaking. Flamenco originated in Southern Spain, specifically Andalusia, so Granada and Sevilla are both amazing places to see an authentic performance. The dancers put so much into the shows that it is impossible to leave unmoved.
5) Enjoy fresh squeezed orange juice
I am #blessed to be able to say that I did this almost everyday! The orange juice in Spain will change you forever!!! You will wonder if you will ever be able to enjoy orange juice in the U.S. again. Restaurants, supermarkets, and cafes all have machines that make fresh-squeezed orange juice.
6) Live life not in a rush
One of the biggest take-aways from my time here is that I don’t need to be in a rush. Spaniards simply are never in a hurry and this is such a ground-breaking thing. They take their time having coffee with friends, they enjoy their meal, and they stroll through the streets. They are never speed-walking like we are accustomed to in America. I will forever value this aspect of the culture and hope to take this lesson home with me.
7) Visit San Sebastián
This was so important to me because the first time I visited Spain, I fell in love with this beach town in the Basque Country. I am convinced that it’s the hidden gem of Spain because while people have heard the name, not a lot of people have visited. It is so hard to choose just one photo because everything from the cobblestone streets to the glistening water here is magical.
8) Explore local gardens
Spain has many famous gardens like Generalife in Granada, the Alcázar Gardens in Seville, Park Güell in Barcelona, The Royal Botanic Gardens in Madrid, and more but there are also many small, local gardens that are equally exquisite (and free!). Pictured above is one I particularly loved that was part of the University of Granada. It was so lovely to pass by and spend time wandering around inside.
9) Taste a locally grown pomegranate (una granada)
I tried one during my second week in Granada but it wasn’t quite ready yet. I was able to enjoy a ripe one about a month later! Fresh pomegranates are sooo yummy and are depicted in architecture all over the city since “granada” means pomegranate. I love how they are incorporated into a lot of different dishes here. My favorite way I had them was on top of avocado toast.
10) Take time to enjoy sunsets
I could talk about the sunsets in Granada FOREVER! There are so many miradores with amazing views of the sunset but the one that is pictured is my absolute favorite spot. The sunsets were never the same; the colors and their vibrancy was always a bit different. I am so thankful I took the time to enjoy them with friends and by myself.
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<p>Hi! My name is Hannah Dean Smith and I am from Summerfield, North Carolina. I am currently a senior at UNC Chapel Hill and am majoring in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. I have a passion for authentically connecting with people from different cultures and backgrounds, which led me to study abroad in Granada, Spain. A fun fact about me is that I share a name with the legendary UNC Basketball Coach, Dean Smith -- go Tar Heels! In my free time, I love to read, play soccer, and search for vintage books, furniture, household items, and postcards in local antique stores.</p>