Transcending the Experience

Tre Nowaczynski
February 23, 2016

Monday, February 22nd, 2016 23:30

Alhamar, Granada

          At the four week mark I can admit that I finally feel settled. I have fallen into a routine and am comfortable not only in my classes and in my homestay, but within the city as well. On the first day, my homestay mother told us that we would be more familiar with Granada than she is, even as a resident of 30+ years. But after navigating to “classes,” “stores,” and “libraries” (bars and clubs) in unbelievably narrow streets (these can’t really be for cars, right?) it seems that she was right. It really is incredible to reflect on how much we have learned so quickly. Yet, somehow it still feels like we’ve been here for a long time. For as much as I can say about the way this city operates, from street names to the demographics of different neighborhoods, it would almost seem that I grew up here. What’s funnier still is that in 3 months I’ll probably laugh at how little I knew about this place at this time. Every time I’ve write, I re-read the previous entry and laugh to myself. It’s been an incredible way to reflect and re-visit pre-existing thoughts and ideas about this experience. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve started to write more on my own. As soon as a thought crosses my mind I reach for a pen. I’ve scribbled in the margins of notebooks, on the backs of drawings, and even typed into my iPhone to capture my thoughts in some way. It feels like I’m chasing after my mind, trying to permanently inscribe this trip as it happens. So, as of this afternoon I am the proud owner of a personal journal where I will attempt to chronicle this whole experience as it unfolds (truthfully my mom and grandmother suggested this to me from day 1).

          If you’re bored of how this has nothing to do with Granada scroll to the bolded section.

          In my quest to get to know as many people as possible I can already start to feel relationships building, bonded over various interests and activities. As these start to grow, I hope to keep expanding my network, interacting with new people and trying new things as often as possible. I’m also hoping that these bonds will turn into lasting friendships for years to come. But I’m less concerned with the future than I am on making sure that everybody has the best time possible, including myself.

[You must really hate me if you skipped those 4 sentences]


          I’m learning to dance the Flamenco 3 days a week, I’m drawing and/or painting 2 times a week, I’m learning to play Frisbee 2 days a week, and I am taking my first hard science class since high school. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve gone grocery shopping twice!! I couldn’t be prouder. I’m learning more about the world and myself on a daily basis. I couldn’t be more excited. We took a field trip in my Mediterranean Ecosystems class (ooooo science) around the Granada area and I went on a hike in the city of Monachil, only deepening my affection for this place. When I came to Spain and particularly this city I thought that it was pretty cool that there were mountains nearby, but I didn’t realize that there were mountains everywhere (bear in mind that I am from Wisconsin which realistically might have a static elevation from Milwaukee to Eau Claire). But seriously, I am in awe every time I look up and see a taller or steeper or more fascinating mountain face, carving the sky out and blocking the sun at the base. My host mother even said (this one might be a lie) that the city of Granada is positioned so that in the event of an incredible earthquake, it would fall into one of the largest super volcanoes in the world (I am not a geologist/she said it). Even if it is unlikely, it would be pretty cool.

Cadiz…. (More on this later)


          Cadiz. Wow. Wow. Was it fun? Yes. Was it worth it? Probably? Cadiz, Spain hosts a festival about 4 hours away from Granada called Carnaval. At this Carnaval, young people come from all over the country to party and celebrate in the streets of this beach town in Halloween-like costumes. Leaving on a Saturday at 10:30 am, our bus scheduled to return was at 5 am… the next day. On top of all this, it was one of the coldest, rainiest days of my time in Spain. En fin, a lot of us were cold, dehydrated, and just overall exhausted by the time we mounted the bus for our return trip. I have been sick for a week trying to recover from it.

Moving Forward:

          Now that I am into more of a fluid schedule, I have been able to find a way to balance time with others and time that I need to myself. I actually believe this will be one of the most memorable parts of this trip. As a person who is generally in the midst of groups of people -- whether it be academic, social, or athletic -- I really value alone time, something that is underappreciated. It has given me the space I need to sort my thoughts, control my expenditures, and overall organize my life. Between these endless mountains and my journal I am excited to see just how much of my mind I can capture on paper. This trip has granted me with the ability to reframe my life as I see fit in a new place. This experience is all my own. I can do new things every night or I can be the same person I’ve always been. I’m not sure where this trip will take me, but I do know that I’m going to make the best of it.

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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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