When preparing to study abroad, there are always a million questions swirling through your mind, but somehow you only manage to ask a few of them. I arrived in Spain feeling decently prepared for the semester, then of course got my world turned upside down. So, to prevent the same from happening to you, here’s a list of things I wish I knew before studying abroad, in Granada and in general.
1) Siesta is a real thing and you will learn to love and appreciate it immensely, BUT that means that most stores (with the exception of a few big name brand shops) will be closed during the middle of the day, and likely closed for all of Sunday. While this isn’t necessarily an issue, it will require you to readjust your day and was definitely an unexpected challenge to navigate during my first week or so abroad.
2) The Andalusian accent can be very hard to understand, so give yourself some time to not only brush up on Spanish, but adjust to this very distinct style of speaking.
3) Paying your phone bill can be wildly confusing, you’ll likely have to get a new sim card and then pay by the month to “refill” your account and have access to data. Pro-tip that I didn’t follow, IES Abroad staff will have a designated time to get sim cards and you should definitely go with them so they can explain anything you’re confused about.
4) You will need to dress nicer than you think.
5) American snacks are incredibly hard to find. I’ve been craving hot cheetos for months now and wish I’d either brought some or ordered some. Just know that the food is delicious, but you’ll have to adjust to it.
6) Water is not free at restaurants, and asking for tap water is not a thing.
7) I was not prepared for how the cobblestone streets would work a whole bunch of weird muscles in my legs, so get ready to have some sore hips and shin splints for your first couple days and remember to stretch.
8) Go on solo trips! I never went on a proper weekend trip by myself and I definitely regret that. It’s a great way to gain self-confidence and feel more independent, and not to mention you get to decide everything you do without having to negotiate.
9) It’s cheaper here, but is it actually? Granada itself is a relatively cheap city which is awesome for the college student budget, but once you add in travel expenses, the occasional dinner at a restaurant, and all the clothes you’ll inevitably buy, the exchange rate from euro to dollars will drain your bank account if you aren’t careful.
10) Studying abroad is hard, and you won’t love every minute of it, and that is okay!! I can’t stress this one enough, you will have an amazing experience but that will come with some tough but important learning experiences. You will truly have to navigate all types of new and unusual circumstances but you will be a stronger and more well-rounded person when you come out the other side. Truly there were days where I was on top of the world, and then there were some where all I wanted to do was stay in bed and never move again—but that’s all part of life right? Now, I’m not saying this to discourage you or as some grave warning, but just as an acknowledgement that while going abroad is indeed the experience of a lifetime, it is not an experience that’s somehow exempt from bad days. It is okay to have those bad days and work your way through them, just be patient with yourself and keep moving forward and I guarantee you will have the time of your life!
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<p>Hey Y'all! My name is Katie and I am so excited to be studying in Granada, Spain this fall! I go to Occidental College in Los Angeles and am a psychology major with a double minor in linguistics and journalism. I am very active in my school's dance community and have choreographed twice for our all-school showcase called Dance Production. As a dancer, I can't wait to learn more about Flamenco and explore new music from the area. I love going on long walks, trying out new foods, and I'm very much a movie nerd. I'm looking forward to sharing my adventures with you, and hope you enjoy reading along with me!</p>