Hello, people of the interwebs! I am sincerely sorry that I haven’t posted about my travels again. This summer has been a whirlwind, to say the least. I moved from Spain to DC to start my full-time (amazing) job, and I was hospitalized due to severe illness on a few occasions. Not to undermine the expertise and excellent care of the doctors who helped me, but I’m pretty sure they misdiagnosed me with strep and abscesses in my throat when in reality, I was actually suffering from extreme Granada withdrawals. But what reasonable person wouldn’t be suffering from the same affliction? I can easily say that my time studying in Granada was the best and most educational semester of my undergraduate experience. The best way I can describe the past few months is feeling like I’ve just woken from a wonderful dream, and I’m trying to digest everything that happened in my waking hours.
We have a lot of catching up to do, so here’s an initial (and utterly incomplete) list of some of my favorite aspects of studying abroad:
1. My (host) family.
I have a very important piece of advice for anyone considering a meaningful study abroad program in Spain: live with a host family! I cannot stress this point enough– if you live with a host family, and you value the time you spend with them, the word “host” will be dropped from the phrase very quickly. My host family is, hands down, the part of Spain I miss the most, and I am certain that my study abroad experience wouldn’t have been half as amazing if I had lived with other American students.
I exchange nerdy political jokes and articles with my host parents on an almost daily basis. My host siblings are total-genius-superstars. We follow each others’ adventures on Facebook, and now my host brother is even considering coming to the States for graduate school! Although no social media or WhatsApp communication can hold a candle to Sunday countryside hikes and daily debates over lunch with them, I am so grateful that we feel comfortable enough with each other to reach out whenever, and we know that we will see each other again someday.
Not only is living with a host family important to make meaningful, life-long connections, but it is vital if you would like to improve your Spanish and gain a more in-depth perspective on world events, history, and politics. As I mentioned before, once I was comfortable with my host family, debates and deep conversations were a daily siesta and after-dinner ritual. My host family and I would pick each others’ brains over everything from world politics, corruption, humanitarian crises, and women’s rights, to how *exactly* my host parents had managed to make such delicious empanadas. Lucky for me, my host mom happened to be a former Spanish teacher in Greece (my host dad is Greek, and my host parents lived in Greece for a few years). so my Spanish improved greatly over the semester.
2. The food.
Although there are quite a few Spanish restaurants in DC, I have yet to eat a Spanish dish since leaving the country. I dramatically tell my friends that after eating so many tapas for so long, that I simply cannot look at another for months. Between you and me, that’s is a total lie. I’m too embarrassed to admit that if I try a Spanish restaurant here, and it fails to live up to what I was used to, I feel like I might spiral into a homesick phase. I am not ashamed to admit that I went into a completely gluttonous, Augustus Gloop-esque, smorgasbord mindset upon arriving to Spain. The cheeses, ham, olives, empanadas, rice dishes, seafood, toast, paella, and most importantly– the piononos (native to Santa Fe– a small town next to Granada)– were worth every ounce of weight I gained. Unfortunately, many of my photos were deleted of meals with my host family, so I don’t have any to share. I will try recover them!
3. The magic of Granada in general.
Honestly, this aspect leaves me a little speechless. But what can you say when you’re living in and staring at a place where multiple worlds have collided over thousands of years? It is truly a dream-like place. I’m fairly certain that my pictures won’t do it enough justice, but they’re certainly better than any words I could use. I’ll continue to post pictures in separate posts, as they won’t fit in this one.