Studying while Studying Abroad

11 February, 2020

Believe it or not, your study abroad experience will include actually going to school, as it is studying abroad. A warning: doing homework in another language is not easy. Tarea becomes even more difficult when you let yourself embellish in thoughts of traveling and exploring that could replace work. It was difficult to get used to having to actually sit still. Initially, being in Granada was too exciting to consciously chose to sit at a desk and do homework. In a place as beautiful as Spain it takes considerable effort to turn my attention towards academics. But, I must remember that in order to get the most out of my experience here I want to learn as much as I can. So, like everyone else, I am going to school and taking classes during my time here, which include: Spain in the European Union, Islamic Architecture, Spanish language, Art and Culture in Granada, and Flamenco. Taking all of my classes in Spanish means that all the lectures, readings, tests, quizzes, and essays are in Spanish. This was intimidating and frankly terrifying at first, but here’s how I survive a typical school day: 

Today, a Tuesday, I woke up early for my 8:35 am Spanish language class. There is a small cafe on Calle Elvira, which is a 30 second walk from IES, called Cafe Lisboa that helps me stay awake through these 8 am wakeup days. I’m not sure why, but the coffee here tastes WAY better than coffee in Walla Walla, Washington. 

Cafe con leche at Cafe Lisboa

After Spanish class, I had an hour break. So, I went to the roof of IES and sat in the sunlight as I worked on an essay for my Art and Culture class. The roof of the IES school building is a beautiful place to study, with a breathtaking view of the city. As I look out the windows towards the Alhambra, I feel like I am in a movie. Historic buildings with intricate blue and white designs stand to the right. Textured rooftops seem to extend as far as the horizon. The way the sunlight reflects off the white marble floors of IES seems surreal. It is almost too perfect. 

My daydreaming is interrupted when I realize I was supposed to be at my next class, Islamic Architecture. Today, as a class, we hiked up to the Alhambra museum, where our professor gave us a tour and pointed out architectural elements that we have been learning about in class. After my visit to the Alhambra, I rushed over to the Flamenco studio for my next class. Flamenco takes an incredible amount of skill, and this class definitely challenges my comfort zone. But, my profesor is incredibly talented and supportive. After Flamenco, I walked a block to my homestay where the most amazing food was waiting for me. Today my host mom, who goes by Choni, made myself and my housemate a soup called potaje de garbanzos con espinacas. As usual, we had fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread on the table as well. 

The hours between 2pm and 4pm are reserved for a siesta. Stores close during this time and there are no classes scheduled. Most days during siesta I like to sit on my balcony in the sun and catch up on homework.

At 4:30 pm I walked to IES for my economics class about the European Union. Economics classes at Whitman cannot compare to the level of difficulty of this class. The professors’ accent is difficult to understand. When I do understand the accent, I still do not understand the complicated economic vocabulary in Spanish. The professor in that class will call on anyone at any time, which adds intense pressure. However, this gives me motivation to study more. This is my most interesting, and most difficult, class as well as the one that I will learn the most from. 

In the end, school is what brought me to Granada. The previous few weeks I have been in vacation mode, as I have been wanting to explore and have fun every second of the day. But now, I am at the point in my time abroad where I am escaping from the vacation mode and focusing more on my daily routine. Of course, in every routine there must be some work. So, be warned! Even though you’re in a different country and everything is bright and shiny and fun, homework is a thing! Study up chicos.


The Paris Incident

27 January, 2020

Holaaa, bienvenidos to my blog! This will be my platform to talk about my adventures abroad in Granada, Spain for the next four months.
I’ll start by sharing the first memory of studying abroad. It wasn’t pretty, in fact my travels across the Atlantic ocean began and ended with puke.
Before my departure from Boise, Idaho, the nervous voice in my head would not allow me to enjoy my last moments with my friends and family. I thought, “How am I supposed to go on three planes for three flights? What if Air France loses my bags? What if I get lost? What if the plane crashes? What if I die? What if when I get there I forget all the Spanish I’ve learned and I’ll have to get on another plane to come home??” Ridiculous thoughts, I know. During the ten hour plane ride to Paris, it just got worse. When I landed in France, I had one hour before my next flight to Malaga, Spain. I spent this time bent over a trash can in a bathroom in the Paris airport, waiting for my anxiety to cease the punishment on my stomach. Obviously, planes aren’t really my thing. I was a mess. Anxious. Frustrated. Terrified. Embarrassed. I was terrified of going abroad. It was completely out of my comfort zone. I didn’t think someone like me would ever have the opportunity to study in a different country. But, here I was, about to arrive in Spain, throwing up in a Paris airport bathroom and rethinking my life choices. At this moment, I wanted to hop on a flight back home and curl up in my bed. But, I didn’t. I decided to continue my journey to Spain, despite my doubts, simply because I replayed my grandmother’s words to me the night before. She had looked me in the eyes and said “This is a very brave thing you are doing.” Even though I didn’t feel very brave bent over a French trash can, I knew I would be okay if she thought so.
A week passed after the Paris incident, and it turns out I was scared for no reason. Everything is beautiful, new, and exciting in Granada. I’ve made friends that I know will last. My host mom is not just an amazing cook, but she is an inspiration and gives me confidence in how I speak in Spanish, even though sometimes I have no idea what to say or how to say it. I feel brave. The only thing I’m scared of now is not being able to fully experience everything I want to, as the possibilities are endless. And the best part is, I have not thrown up since Paris!