Putting the "Study" in Study Abroad

Marissa Talcott
October 24, 2021

Since I got to Spain, I’ve realized that it can be hard to make time for the “study” part of study abroad. There’s so much to do and see in Granada that I have trouble finding the motivation to sit down and do schoolwork. I’d much rather be out exploring the city, grabbing ice cream with my friends, or looking for souvenirs in one of the many shops along Granada’s narrow streets. But as we head into a week filled with midterms, I’m faced with the hard reality that it’s time to refocus on schoolwork. This is easier said than done—I have a growing aversion to the pile of notebooks and study guides sitting on my desk. 

But, I’ve also found some ways to make studying while abroad a bit more appealing. 

It’s All About Location

It’s really a simple comparison. Would you rather study for a midterm sitting at your desk in a small dorm room, or soaking up the sun while taking in the views of Southern Spain? While this might not be the best solution for everyone, (there are definitely more distractions when studying outside), I’ve found that doing homework and studying for exams becomes much more bearable when I’m in a pretty location. So, I’ll gather up my notes, study guides, and some good music, and bask in the Spanish sun while also getting my work done. Lucky for me, the IES Granada building has a rooftop terrace with amazing views of the city that is also several stories up from the bustling streets and numerous distractions of Granada’s Plaza Nueva. Other favorite outdoor locations include the Federico García Lorca Park and the numerous outdoor cafes and restaurants around Granada. 


Good Food Makes Studying MUCH Easier

When I have to spend multiple hours studying or working on papers and assignments, having food on hand is a necessity. The Spanish snacks and pastries I’ve encountered do not disappoint. Within the first week of being in Granada, my friends and I discovered La Qarmita, the cafe next door to our residence hall. It has become one of my favorite study spots, not just because of the calm ambience it provides, but also because I can snack on delicious pastries (with vegan and gluten free options!), arepas, and order coffee stacked with scoops of ice cream, a combo which perfectly fuels my need for caffeine and sugar. 


Balance Is Key

I’ve also come to realize the importance of finding balance between doing schoolwork and exploring Spain. Since I’m only abroad for one semester, I constantly feel the clock ticking down on how much time I have left to be abroad. I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities or leave Spain feeling like I didn’t experience it as much as I would have liked to. However, part of being a student living abroad is inevitably studying while abroad. 

And luckily for me, many of my classes incorporate out-of-class activities into what we are learning. My Islamic Art and Architecture class has weekly field trips around the neighborhoods and ancient buildings of Granada, which has helped me grow familiar with the city and its history. In my Lorca and Andalusian Literature class, we visited the birthplace and childhood home of the Andalusian poet Lorca, and we have weekly assignments that encourage us to creatively reflect on our experiences abroad. And, in my Spanish language class, our professor frequently assigns homework that is simply to talk to Spanish students, learn new slang and jargon, and just continually immerse ourselves in Spanish life. So, although studying and doing homework are inevitable parts of my time in Spain, I still get to experience all of the exciting parts of study abroad as well. Midterms will never be something I look forward to, but at least now I get to take my midterms in Spain.

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Marissa Talcott

<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>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
Portland, OR
Political Science
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