Final Reflections

Hello all! My program in Granada wrapped up about 10 days ago after a flurry of finals, projects, and essays. Getting through finals is usually cause for unbridled jubilation and intense relief, but this time it was awfully bittersweet. The goodbyes were especially difficult; normally, end-of-semester goodbyes are eased by the knowledge that a future reunion will occur sooner or later. But study abroad goodbyes have something of an air of finality to them. It will likely be quite a while before I’m able to make it back to Granada to visit various special people there, including my amazing host family. Saying goodbye to the legendary Josefina (whose warmth, kindness, generosity, and excellent cooking skills greatly enhanced my semester) was enormously difficult. She went above and beyond the call of duty in making us feel like a part of her family and 2:30 pm Spanish lunches at La Casita Amarilla (the nickname for her house) were always major highlights of each day in Granada.

Bidding farewell to my American friends from the program was also quite tough, particularly since they all attend colleges far from my own. We had all become very close friends over the course of the program and I’ll sorely miss our regular tapas dinners, shawarma feasts, and occasional trips to other European cities. These friendships made my time abroad thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly special; it’s really a great thing when you find people who allow you to be completely honest and open and even happen to appreciate your unique sense of humor. After saying an emotional final goodbye to my American friends, I made my way back to the hotel I was staying at with my family; I may have gotten a tad emotional as I thought back on a wonderful semester with exceptional people. I was glad that it was past midnight and pouring rain because my eyes had gotten a little bit damp.

A picture of 4 friendly acquaintances at a farewell reception for fall 2019 IES Granda participants. These folks, and the lovely city in the background, will be missed.

One of the highlights of my time in Spain was a day trip we took to Priego de Córdoba for an olive oil tasting. The olive tree behind our group is called “el abuelo” – it is roughly 2000 years old.

A few familial relations visited me in Granada after my program ended. This is a picture of us in one of the Nasrid palaces within the Alhambra complex. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to unload a torrential deluge of rain on this particular day so we got a healthy drenching. It was still a great visit, though!


With about a week remaining in my program, we’ve definitely entered the academic home stretch. To my chagrin, I have quite a few things left to get done – various papers, projects, and final exams are looming large on the horizon. But fear not, dear readers – I have recently received copious quantities of pre-exam fuel courtesy of my best friend’s uncommonly wonderful and generous grandparents. I’m reasonably confident that gluttonous consumption of Pacific Palisade’s finest Chex Mix and cookies should help me to avoid earning eye-wateringly poor grades on my remaining assignments.

In my last post, I focused solely on our conversation in Morocco with the Sub-Saharan immigrants; that conversation was certainly the most important and impactful part of the trip. However, we also had a rather unique experience at a local Hammam (public bath house) that merits recounting.

We entered the Hammam in swimsuits, ready for what I had assumed would be a restorative, relaxing, and sauna-like kind of experience. Within the Rabat Hammam, the emphasis is firmly on the process of exfoliation; each of us, following our program director’s advice, purchased an exfoliating massage from one of the Hammam’s employees. After making the purchase, we were each handed a small packet of liquid soap and an exfoliating glove and shunted into the hottest and most humid of the Hammam’s 3 chambers. In this chamber we were instructed – through gesticulation – that we needed to thoroughly baste ourselves in the vomit-green colored soap and scrub ourselves with our personal glove.

This was a rather lengthy ordeal; the heat and humidity were fairly oppressive and after 10 minutes of dutiful scrubbing and sedentary marination I looked like Frosty the Snowman post-global warming. At this point, I was approached by a middle-aged, corpulent gentleman who communicated to me through gestures and Arabic that it was time for my exfoliation experience. I dutifully assumed the requisite snow angel position on the sodden Hammam floor, slightly concerned for what was to come; the gentleman had donned a hefty, industrial-sized exfoliation glove that appeared to have been previously used on the skin of other massage recipients.

The glove-scraping I received on that memorable night was remarkably thorough. Almost no bodily areas were off limits to my slightly over-zealous scrubber; the glove ventured perilously high up my inner thighs, getting close to certain sensitive areas. I’m fairly sure that my new Moroccan friend exfoliated parts of my milky white-boy thighs that had previously never seen the light of day.

With that charming image I will conclude today’s blog post. Although “Un Semestre en Granada” is nearing legal retirement age, I think I might find the time to do a farewell post sometime next week, post-finals. ¡Hasta pronto!

In my 20 years on planet Earth, it has come to my attention that finding a tolerable roommate is extraordinarily rare. It’s even more exceptional when your roommate rapidly becomes one of your closest friends.

Another picture from a great hike we did last weekend with our host family up in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

A glorious recent lunch – red meat in a read sauce with some sort of potato puree. Josefina really outdid herself on this one.