Olive at First Sight
You could say it was “olive at first sight” for IES Abroad alumni, Joseph Robbins and Francesca Abdel-Nour, who are engaged to be married this spring. Fate united Joey, an Economics major from George Washington University, and Francesca, a Political Science major from Fordham University, during the Spring 2006 Granada Program.
Francesca recalls, “Our orientation took place in Málaga, and our very first excursion was to an olive grove. In a group of about 60, I noticed one student in the back had asked a teacher what a raw olive would taste like. She insisted that it would be awful. Adamant with his curiosity, [Joey] went to pick an olive fresh off the tree. Knowing better, I readied myself with my camera and caught his intensely sour face as he took a bite.”
Stranded But Not Alone
It wasn’t until a spring break trip later in the semester that they realized just how much they enjoyed each other’s company. A missed connection from Madrid to Granada stranded Joey and Francesca in the bus station, where a sleepless 36 hours led to talking all night and learning a lot about each other. “Joey used his last euros to buy me a chocolate croissant from the vending machine. Turned out I was allergic to the chocolate in the croissant. It's the thought that counts!”
Romance Blossoms in the Capital City
By the end of the semester, they had become best friends, excited that their summer internships would land them both in Washington, D.C. Their first date involved an IMAX showing about the Mars Rovers at the Air & Space Museum. Francesca confesses, “By the end of the movie I was crying at the loss of one rover and the unexpected survival of the other. Joey had no idea what he had gotten himself into, but we laughed pretty hard at my range of displayed emotions. We've always joked that one day we should have two dogs named after the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.”
Life Post-Study Abroad
Today, Joey is a lawyer and Francesca is a senior paralegal in Washington, D.C. They returned to Granada in August 2009 with friends, visiting their old haunts and enjoying tapas. She says, “It’s definitely a different feeling being there strictly as a tourist. It made us remember and truly appreciate exactly how comfortable we had become living there by the time we left at the end of Spring 2006.”
Celebrating Their Love
Joey and Francesca will enjoy dinner at their favorite mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, where they celebrated their first anniversary, “on any day other than Valentine’s Day.” The true celebration will come on Memorial Day 2014, when they get married in the company of family and friends—including some from IES Abroad Granada!—at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C.
Words of Advice
Eight years in the making is truly an inspiration. If you want a love story like theirs, Francesca advises, “Try to not sweat the small stuff! You need all the time you can get to dance, laugh, and have fun with one another!”
Read more stories like theirs all week long in our "Love In..." alumni series!