I’m a big believer in to-do lists. So of course, with just over a week left until I leave home for Granada, Spain, I’ve assembled somewhat of a daunting to-do list to get me ready to study abroad.
In all honesty, each time I look at this list, I am struck by a feeling of nervous apprehension along with a fair bit of stress. I am still not sure how I will manage to fit outfits for summer, fall, and winter weather into my limited luggage space, not to mention the shoes to go with them. I feel the stress of logistical planning, from figuring out international phone plans and bank cards, to making sure I’ve purchased the correct electrical converters. And then there’s the jitters that I feel, much like when I first left for college, about the idea of arriving in a brand new place where I don’t know anyone. Except this time, I’m not just moving to a new city and state, but to a different country. It’s nerve-racking to prepare for this experience, and I can’t shake the feeling that there are things I’ve forgotten to add to my to-do list and that I’ll forget to pack when I head abroad.
But to counteract all of this stress and apprehension, I’ve created a second to-do list, not with things I need to do before I leave, but with everything I’m excited about doing and seeing once I get to Granada. Making this list has helped remind me why I decided to study abroad in the first place: to experience the culture, food, history of another country.
Here are a few items that I’m most looking forward to on my Spain to-do list:
1. Visit the iconic Alhambra
This one almost goes without saying. The Alhambra is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in Granada, and probably one of the most well known in all of Spain. Apart from being at the top of every guidebook’s recommendations, this Moorish fortress appeals to me for its architecture, gardens, and most of all its fascinating history and significance to both Moorish and Catholic rulers of the past. As someone who loves learning about history, I know that the Alhambra is a must-see during my time in Granada.
2. Scope out the best cafés and restaurants in my neighborhood
After receiving my housing assignment from IES Abroad, I immediately put the address into Google Maps and virtually explored the surrounding streets and businesses. I’ve heard that Granada is a very walkable city, and I hope to take advantage of this by scoping out the nearest cafés and restaurants and sampling lots of delicious food. I’ve already discovered an açai shop just a couple blocks from my residence hall, and I definitely hope to check that out within my first week in Granada.
3. Find the best places for tapas
Continuing on the topic of food, I am very excited to experience Granada’s tapas scene. Granada is apparently one of the best Spanish cities to find affordable (and even free) tapas, and I plan to take full advantage of this. I’m a total foodie, and you can definitely expect pictures and blog posts documenting my favorite tapas finds.
4. Check out the Sierra Nevada, and hopefully find a time to go skiing
I grew up skiing California’s Sierra Nevada, and was pretty excited to learn that the original Sierra Nevada is in Spain, and that Granada is located right at the base of this mountain range. I love the outdoors, and hope to explore the scenery and mountain villages of the Sierra Nevada. Moreover, the Sierra Nevada ski season starts in November or early December, so I may even be able to get some skiing in before the end of the semester.
5. Head to the coast
I am also very excited to explore the Costa del Sol, which is said to have some of the best beaches in Spain. Going to school in Southern California has made me accustomed to frequent beach days, and with the coast about an hour away, I will have relatively easy access to the Mediterranean coast during my semester in Granada. I also want to check out the towns of Málaga, Marbella, Almuñecar, and others located along the coast.
6. See a flamenco performance (and maybe even take a class)
Dance has always been a big part of my life, and I like watching dance almost as much as I like doing it. I am eager to check out the dance scene in Spain, and particularly to see flamenco performances and maybe even take a class. There will definitely be opportunities to see flamenco in Granada, but I also want to head to Sevilla, which has some of the best authentic Spanish flamenco.
7. Visit Sevilla
Apart from flamenco, Sevilla has many things to offer. The vibrant city has a rich culture and history, and is also the capital of Andalucía. Although my IES Abroad program has a group trip to Sevilla, I may even want to explore the city independently at some point.
As I look over this to-do list (which might actually be more of a bucket-list) I feel eager and excited for my upcoming departure. I look forward to doing these things and more, and sharing my experiences along the way. While I feel an inevitable uncertainty and apprehension about going abroad, I’ve found that having to-do lists helps me feel grounded, and like I have some control and clarity regarding what my study abroad experience will look like. More than anything, I am excited for what the coming semester holds.
¡Hasta pronto Granada!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and am currently attending school at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. As someone who loves the outdoors, I am excited to explore the natural surroundings of Granada, Spain. I enjoy writing, learning about history and politics, traveling, and meeting new people. I can't wait to try the food and see the historic, cultural, and natural sites of Spain.</p>