The End of Orientation, the Beginning of a Journey

Tre Nowaczynski
February 8, 2016

Sunday, February 7th, 2016 12:57 pm

Alhamar, Granada

              Orientation is over and I feel like I have been introduced to paradise. From the city to the people to the quality of life, I am in love with this place. Waking up every morning to a colorful and youthful city in a basin created by the surrounding mountains has been a dream. On the surface, everything seems to be different. The standard hours of operation for stores and restaurants, mealtimes, and even waking hours. Despite this, I have yet to fully experience culture shock as I have spent much of these days observing, reflecting, and re-observing, challenging that which I think I know and learning about what I don’t yet understand. While wandering around fixated on google maps (seriously use google instead of apple) I have stumbled into countless restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores, I have begun to learn street names or at the very least landmarks. Truthfully, if this city was not on a hill (like its Andalusian sister Seville) I would undoubtedly be even more lost in the narrow streets of the city. Over time I can imagine that I will be able to find my way around without the aid of GPS or asking for directions, but until then I will bear my American roots sheepishly as I learn. It seems that I have already seen an incredible amount of the city between trips (shouts out to IES Abroad), runs, late night escapades, and aimless walking. While I have done a lot, there is so much more to do here, so much more to learn, and so much more to see. This next few months will be incredible, I can already feel it, and I just hope it doesn’t pass me by too quickly.

              Outside of the wonders and experiences this city has to offer, I must say that the people that I have met and become acquainted with have all been incredible. From countless walks of life and varying interests and perspectives, the collection of IES Abroad students, orientation leaders, and program leaders already feels like a family. Even with such a large group I hope to learn about each person, as impossible of a task as that seems. I don’t want to leave anything behind, and that includes the people I will be alongside.



              Trips to Seville, Ronda, and Alpujarra were breathtaking, as well as walking tours of Granada. The food has been abundant and incredible, I’ve tried things I didn’t know existed and even had foods I didn’t think I liked (artichokes and mushrooms). Yes the tapas really are free with every drink, yes everybody goes out until 2, 3, 4, and even 5 in the morning, yes we walk anywhere between 5-20 miles a day. I truly feel like I belong here. There is something about this city, these people, and this lifestyle that suits me.


              I haven’t been able to work out yet (my own fault) but fortunately the amount of walking we have done has kept me in fairly good shape. I intend to join a gym and try out different sports while I am here including but not limited to: ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and basketball. The biggest problem I am currently having is budgeting (you can calm down Mom). It feels like we are “spending euros like monopoly money” in the words of my roommate. It indeed does, but I believe that it will slow down (it really has to) as we have simpler schedules and simpler lives the coming weeks (I hope). I have compiled a financial plan for the remainder of the month, I just need to stick to it.

Moving Forward:

              No pasa nada. An incredible fitting motto, slogan, catchphrase that we newly christened “granadinos” have adopted. Literally it means don’t worry about it. To me it means this and so much more. It means that I have the time and space to be who I am meant to be without stress. It means que sera sera. It means that I have the freedom to create my own experience and to be holistically happy. It means don’t worry about what happens because it’s all a part of the journey. On one of the first few days I was asked what my favorite movie was. Without thinking about it and having never given it much thought, I said that it was Cool Runnings (if you haven’t seen it, stop reading and go watch). It seems fitting, as one of my favorite lines (no seriously go watch it) is “peace be the journey.” I hope to learn just as much about myself as I do about Granada, and I hope to truly embrace the no pasa nada lifestyle. 

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Tre Nowaczynski

<p>A sociology major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At school I am a two-sport varsity athlete, sing and beat box in an a cappella group on campus and volunteer in the Twin Cities area. In the future I hope to develop and create safer and more integrated communities, creating equal opportunities in urban centers across the US. Specifically I seek to work against structural racism by reducing disparities that are current outcomes of our social systems. This study abroad experience is a time to reflect and immerse myself in an entirely different world beginning first and foremost with a language barrier. I hope to be successful academically and socially as well as learn a lot about myself and the world around me.</p>

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