The travel bug can really sneak up on you in college, and it seems to be pretty contagious. We spend so much time reading and learning about places with such rich culture, tradition and community around the world that it’s only natural that at some point we decide it’s time to pack our bags and see them for ourselves.
I caught the bug years ago when I was just beginning to learn Spanish, so fast-forward 12 years and 16 Spanish classes later -- to say that this semester abroad has been a long time coming would be an understatement. The time has flown since actually beginning to plan for this semester though; it was one year away, then one month, and now in just one short week I’ll be admiring the Alhambra with tapas on my plate and new friends by my side.
Preparing for my trip has been an extreme mix of emotions; missing friends already back at school, stressing about my language skills, ensuring my family that I will be smart and safe, but mostly just trying to contain my excitement.
I’ve been listening to Spanish music non-stop and frequenting travel websites, but I’m not really sure that there’s anything that will totally prepare me for the rush of excitement and nerves I’ll feel when I hit the tarmac in Spain. Though I have no way of knowing for sure what I will experience in these next few months, I thought setting some goals for myself would be a good opportunity to reflect on later.
During my semester in Granada I hope to...
Look beyond the lens -- Sometimes we can get caught up in experiencing things just for the sake of a picture, so while I definitely plan to take photos, I’m challenging myself to look out from behind the lens and enjoy where I am in the moment.
Ditch the map app -- This one might take some time, but I’m hoping that by the end of the semester I will have immersed myself enough so that I have a strong sense of direction and feel at home in the streets of Granada.
Prioritize people -- In my travels so far, I’ve found that it’s really the people that make things memorable. Whether it’s fellow students that I can share my experiences with or natives of Granada that can help me better understand their language and culture, I’m hoping to find a community that makes this semester even more special.
Eat everything -- Coming from a foodie family, this one is a no-brainer. Cuisine is so much a part of culture, making it a top priority of mine to try as many new and different things that I know I can only find in Granada. Definitely stay tuned to find pictures and recaps of my culinary adventures in this blog, since I’m sure I won’t have too much trouble finding food to fall in love with in the land of tapas.
Beyond just these long-term goals, there are so many things to look forward to just in the first few days and weeks of the semester. Between meeting my classmates and homestay family, starting orientation, testing my Spanish, and taking my first few classes, I am so ready for the excitement (and exhaustion) that come with it all.
Though I’ve still got some packing to do for an early departure to visit family in Italy, I’m feeling prepared and ready (at least mentally) for whatever this semester has to offer. Of all the things I could catch, I’ve got a feeling the travel bug is going to treat me well. ¡Nos vemos muy pronto Granada!
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<p>Hi, I'm Nina! A proud Jersey girl and sophomore at Penn State, I have a passion for all things food, music, culture and crafting. Join me as I test my Spanish skills while living out my Andalusian adventure this semester!</p>