From Granada, Spain, to San Francisco, California, this study abroad love story was made to last
IES Abroad alumni Laura Philbin (née: Gosewisch) and Patrick Philbin met on their first day studying abroad in Spain in 2008. Everyone on the Study in Granada Program rendezvoused in Málaga, Spain, before beginning their semester in Granada. Laura and Patrick were drawn to one another right away, and, as they say, the rest is history. A semester abroad and several years later, they were married at Patrick's family home outside of Sonoma, California. The two now live in Bend, Oregon.
We caught up with the couple recently to hear more about their study abroad love story.
Falling in Love in Granada
Without an official first date, Laura and Patrick recall spending a lot of time together as friends at the start of their program. One of their favorite shared memories is of dancing the night away at one of Granada's big dance clubs. Whether it was sitting together on the bus during an Ecology class field trip or chatting with one another at length while out and about during group activities, they unintentionally kept seeking one another out.
Eventually, Laura and Patrick started consciously pursuing one another and going on dates near the square in El Centro. Laura remembers the time Patrick picked her up, hugged her, and said, “I just love you!” Patrick didn't realize what he said, nor had he said that to anyone before.
When Patrick’s parents visited him in Granada, his host family told his parents that they thought Patrick was going to marry Laura. At the time, he blushed and laughed it off, but knew early on that he was in love with her.
“Granada is already a pretty magical place," Laura shared. "Between the Alhambra, the mysterious caves of the Albycin, and the flamenco music, it feels like a fairy tale. Falling in love brought a new sense of excitement and wonder to my study abroad experience."
Life Post-Study Abroad
After returning from studying abroad, their relationship was forced to change. They had to learn how to communicate well as Patrick was in Boston at Tufts University and Laura was in Minnesota at Gustavus Adolphus College. Patrick and Laura spent their senior year flying back and forth often to visit one another. “Returning to life in the States wasn't easy, especially being apart from each other and returning to the status quo of college,” Patrick said. “After we left Spain, we ended up in a long distance relationship that lasted over a year. Not all times were easy, but the connection we forged in Spain helped us through it.”
Their love was able to last the test of time and distance, and the two were married on September 5, 2015.
Patrick and Laura recently relocated from San Francisco's Bay Area to Bend, Oregon. Laura is a Social Media Manager at Anaplan, and Patrick is a Customer Success Manager at a software company called Wandera.
Words of Advice
When asked what advice they have for students thinking about studying abroad in Granada, Laura encouraged, “Don't hesitate! Granada is the perfect size city—you can easily explore it and it becomes familiar quickly. Studying abroad will change your life. I learned a new language, traveled to new countries, made friends that we are still in touch with to this day, and met the man of my dreams. In short, get ready for the best six months of your life!”
“Do it!" said Patrick. "Seriously, it was the time of my life. You'll meet amazing people, learn more about yourself, and bottom line, you'll have an incredible amount of fun.”
Ready to fall in love with Granada? Find out when you apply today!