Tonight at dinner my friends and I remarked how there is only one month left of class. It feels like we just arrived last week. In just weeks before it’s time to return home.
Now is a good time to look back on the program and think about your time away from home. It’s been long enough to have some perspective, though there is still time to make some changes if you feel like something has not been right. For me, studying in Granada has been one of the best possible experiences. I came to Granada without knowing anyone in my program and have met some really smart and fun people.
The best part about the last three months has been the change of pace that life in Granada offers. In contrast to the intensity, rapidity and insularity of a liberal arts campus, Granada has reminded me that life should be enjoyed. It has showed me that we can develop strong personal relationships if we just make enough time to do so. I’m reminded here that life should be sipped slowly, not chugged — that accomplishment does not have to be the ultimate metric of success.
The culture that surrounds food and drink here makes it so. Meals are longer and slower. There’s a greater emphasis on personal interaction, paying full attention to the person in front of you. This has enabled me to develop strong and personal relationships with the people in the program, with whom I’ve shared many tapas and jaras and memories.
However, there are also things I know I could have done better with, including speaking Spanish outside the classroom and finding a group of local friends. I’ve been frustrated by the fact that my Spanish has not improved to the level that I would have liked. Still, I believe that I can make that change over the next month if I really focus on it. While working on exams and writing papers, I know that I’ll be engaging more with the language than I otherwise would. In one month, too, I think that I can make up for a lot of lost ground from my last two months of general laziness on that front. Also, I joined a gym with the hope that I would be able to make some local friends, but I’ve been too nervous to go up and chat with someone. This is something that I think could really improve my Spanish and help me have a more authentic experience.
I realize that the worst thing would be to coast through this next month. There is plenty of time to define this experience in the way you’d like to remember it. While we have been here for much time, don’t let the next month slip by while staying in your comfort zone. Continue to branch out, because there’s a lot to see and a lot of room to grow.