Early Impressions

¡Hola a todos! Welcome to my blog. Because of my lack of technological savvy, this blog will not be particularly aesthetically pleasing; however, I’m planning to fully compensate for this absence with sparkling anecdotes and riveting content.

My semester abroad got off to a marvelous start when the man in the adjacent LAX airport bathroom stall began vomiting spectacularly. Since I had just consumed a large and greasy pre-flight meal consisting of a burger and fries, this was a fairly undesirable experience and not the way in which I had hoped to kick off my semester abroad. Thankfully, I refrained from following suit and made it through the 12 hour flight to Madrid (and the subsequent 50 min flight to Málaga) largely unscathed, although very exhausted.

We spent our first night and most of our first full day in Málaga, a lovely coastal city in very southern Spain. Although we did a little bit of initial sightseeing after arriving on the evening of September 2nd, our time in Málaga mostly involved participating in various orientation modules intended to prepare us for life in a foreign country.

In one of those sessions, the IES Granada program director, Javier, told us that meeting Spaniards for the first time is very different than initial greetings between Americans. Instead of a stiff handshake and minimal physical contact, Spaniards typically greet one another with hugs and a kiss on each cheek. Indeed, when my roommate and I met Josefina, our host mother, she immediately gave us big hugs and loudly proclaimed that we were both “guapo” (handsome). Josefina’s reaction was indicative of a key difference between Spain and the US – being honest and blunt here is normal and encouraged, even in regard to physical appearances.

Javier also warned us that sometimes the Spanish host families are exceedingly blunt in regard to the Spanish-speaking ability (or lack thereof) of the IES students that live with them. Apparently certain families immediately tell their IES students that their Spanish is awful; instead of being intended as an insult, however, these unflattering proclamations are simply an honest assessment of the student’s current level and are not intended to express dislike for a student. Fortunately, Josefina was very nice and complimentary regarding my personal level of Spanish, even though it’s honestly rather mediocre.

Generally, the Spanish host families, including my own, take great pride in helping students improve in Spanish and are very forgiving when linguistic mistakes are made. For me personally, my homestay has been a truly wonderful part of my Granada experience thus far; Josefina and her family have been unfailingly welcoming and kind. And the food here has been incredible! During my next post I’m planning to devote some serious time to discussing the food scene here in Granada – the topic definitely merits a lengthy discussion.

Until next time!

This is my orientation Spanish class at an Alhambra viewpoint. The view was quite stunning!

During orientation we also took a day trip down to Cabo de Gata – we spent the day hiking and visited several different beaches along the way.