What a crazy stressful amazing journey it has been getting here. It took a train, 2 packed airplanes, two taxis, and a bus but I am finally here in Granada, Spain. I flew into Málaga first for orientation and myself and the other 80 IES students wandered around the center of the city getting our bearings and trying our first tapas and sangria. Tapas are basically any kind of appetizer usually some combination of bread and meat, they are delicious and cheap. Tapas and a drink are also the Spanish equivalent of a complete dinner. The portion sizes are pretty different here. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and a very social event. I learned this on my first day in Granada.
Sunrise from the plane (left) and the streets of Málaga (right)
After adventuring in Málaga we all boarded four buses for two hours and met our host families at the IES center. My host mom, Josefína is so kind and fun to chat with. She always speaks with such enthusiasm and volume, in the natural Spanish way. She has two sons, Hugo, who is nine, and Mario, who is six. I could not have asked for a better family. Even though my Spanish is not perfect I am gaining confidence every day just from accomplishing communicating with them.
We got settled into our new home, a skinny four level flat with a quaint kitchen, four bedrooms, and a combined dining and living room. The table is in the middle of the rectangular room with two couches on either side and a television against the wall so the kids can watch TV during meals. My roommate Savannah and I, after a night of restless sleep, made our way down the angled staircase to the breakfast table. Mario and Hugo were watching TV and drinking a glass of milk while Josefína was working away in the kitchen. She poured us some coffee and popped some bread in the toaster. Once we were done eating Josefína and Hugo walked Savannah and I to our first day of orientation at the IES center. It felt a lot like I was starting kindergarten. We exchanged kisses on each cheak and she told us she would see us at lunch time. This meant we would have to remember the winding path we took to get here and the combination of narrow corners we would turn down. I couldn’t worry about that now though, we were thrown into language class.
The class focused on getting us immersed in the Granada culture as well as becoming familiar with important vocabulary such as directions and rooms in the house. We had two hours of this and then were released for a fifteen minute break. Since lunch is usually not until 2 or 3 pm it is traditional in Spain to get a coffee and snack around 12. My group made our way across the street to a coffee shop located in a marble courtyard. I asked for café con crema y hielo (coffee with cream and ice). It was way too hot for a warm beverage. The average temperature here so far has been 90 degrees Fairenheight, I had accepted my constant sweaty state. The coffee was immaculate; so rich and delicious. I knew my coffee addiction would reach a new height after that first sip.
I was surprised based upon my directional track record that it only took Savannah and I fifteen minutes to find the door to our flat and we only took one wrong turn. Lunch was a traditional Spanish tortilla, which is actually nothing like a Mexican tortilla. In Spain, a tortilla is made with potatoes, eggs, and onions. It is very thick and reminds me more of a potato omelet. We also had chicken sausage, I thought it was a bit unusual and bread, always bread. I had some watermelon for dessert and then Savannah and I felt weighed down by the large lunch and lack of sleep that we retired to our room for a siesta. This would become a regular occurrence.
So far I have fallen in love with Granada. The people are incredibly kind and the entire city has the vibe of “no pasa nada” loosely translated to no worries. It is a dramatically different way of living but I am getting used to it. I know I will soon feel home in Granada.
Granada viewed from the oldest neighborhood Albaicín located at the top of the city