Doing extracurricular activities outside of school—whether it’s community service, clubs, or sports—has been something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Not only can extracurriculars introduce you to new people, but they can expose you to new causes, lifestyles, and challenges. Together, these things can result in a rewarding experience that leaves you feeling more well-rounded and proud of yourself.
This semester in the IES Abroad Granada program, I knew that I wanted to involve myself in something outside of academics that immersed me further in the culture and allowed me to interact more with Spaniards. While looking through the opportunities sent to us by the IES Abroad Granada admin, I found a unique chance to register for “talleres," or workshops, as an extension of the Universidad de Granada. The “talleres” offered included everything from yoga to ceramics, watercolor painting, and dance. I decided that I wanted to join the Oriental (North African) dance workshop, since I had some prior experience in this style that I wanted to continue and because North African culture is prevalent in Granada. This workshop had everything I was looking for and seemed like a comfortable space for women of all ages and abilities to try something new together. So I decided to enroll!
The workshop was ten weeks long (perfect for the semester!), and the group met twice a week during a time between classes. Luckily, the studio was only a short walk up into the Albayzin neighborhood of Granada, about 5-7 minutes from the IES Abroad Granada building. The class cost 75 euros, and the IES Abroad Granada office was able to distribute 20 euros to each student who wanted to pursue an extracurricular activity, which allowed me to attend the workshop at a discounted rate!
When I first arrived at the studio, I had no idea what to expect. I met the instructor, Federica, who had been living in Spain for about 25 years. We bonded over our shared Sicilian heritage and our interest in oriental dance. The class was made up of about 20 women from different backgrounds. Some were young students like me, some were professors at the Universidad de Granada, some were friends of the instructor, and some were community members who just wanted to try something new. I was the only non-Spanish student in the workshop, which was nerve wracking at times (especially with language!), but also exciting as I was able to challenge myself to meet new people and use my Spanish. We learned individual techniques and listened to music created by musicians from Granada. I learned about how oriental dance mixed with the flamenco culture in Andalusia and about the vibrancy of North African culture in the area. Later in the semester, we started practicing a full choreography for a performance expo that all of the workshops would hold at the end of the term. During these practices, I bonded with my classmates and we grew to know about each other’s families, lives outside of the workshop, and future goals. I can honestly say it was an experience like none I had ever had before, in a good way!!
Our performance was scheduled only a few days before I left Spain, making it one of the last experiences I had of my time abroad. Even though I was a little nervous, my classmates motivated me and we had a fantastic expo that some of my friends from IES Abroad were able to attend! Stage fright aside, I had a great time and felt proud that I had essentially started from nothing and had learned an entire choreography, made friends with people I might never had gotten the chance to meet, and performed for a Spanish audience. In all, this taller made my study abroad experience feel more complete and well-rounded, and I would recommend that anyone interested in a similar experience look into a taller or any other type of organized extracurricular activity!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi, I'm Kat! I'm a junior at Scripps College and come from a small town called Beaumont in California (about halfway between L.A. and Palm Springs). I am a Linguistics and Spanish, Latin American, and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures dual major. I would describe myself as a Netflix junkie and culture enthusiast. I love to have movie nights with my friends, talk to people about their ancestry, check out museums, and cook Buzzfeed Tasty recipes!</p>