Hola. Welcome to my travel blog! For those of you who don’t know I am studying abroad in Granada, Spain, this semester (Spring 2019).
January 24-25th I flew in to Madrid from Philly and was blessed with a two-seat row all to myself. Thanks to said row (and melatonin) I slept most of the way there (about 7 hours) and then the entire hour from Madrid to Granada. The second plane was so small we had to walk out, onto the tarmac, and hand our bags over before climbing the plane’s stairs.
The only issue we encountered was when asking directions to the Madrid gate, the airport employee thought we were asking about Canada instead of Granada (I guess they sound similar, but he did see our boarding passes so it remains a mystery).
Two other Swat students and I got a taxi to the hotel and somehow the driver managed to smoosh all 5 checked suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 3 backpacks into the car. After a much needed shower (the best feeling after traveling for over half a day), the three of us found our way to a store for SIM cards (without getting lost, amazing) before a quick nap and then meeting the rest of the group for dinner. Until Sunday, when we meet our host families, we will stay at the hotel together.
There are around 18 of us, all Juniors. 15 from Brown, and the 3 of us from Swarthmore. Some speak basically no Spanish and others are fluent and taking University of Granada classes. In an effort to enjoy traveling and abroad with minimum stress, while still improving my Spanish, I am taking 5 classes in Spanish at the CLM– Centro de Lenguas Modernas– which is equivalent to 4 classes at Swat.
Everyone in the group is kind, funny, and easy-to-talk-to so far, which is a relief. It will be nice to travel together across Spain and to Morocco together, as well as doing weekly cooking classes with Spanish students so they can practice their English and we can practice our Spanish.
Dinner itself was amazing. Cheese plates with raisins and grapes and nuts. Tortilla de patatas (o tortilla española) made of eggs, potatoes, and deliciousness. Jamon Iberico (like prosciutto). Oranges and pineapple and strawberries. Croquetas and cakes for those of us who eat gluten (ie not me). (Croquetas are fried, breaded, balls of meat, cheeses, etc.) A great way to start to get to know each other and end the first day.
Today was orientation. Many of us expected an overwhelming amount of information, confusion, stress, etc. But, como no pasa nada en Granada (meaning nothing “bad” happens/everything is okay), we started the day with a light breakfast at the hotel. As a group, we walked through the city to the program building where we were told about the city, safety, travel, etc, before having a break for coffee/tea and coffee cakes. Afterwards, we continued walking, seeing the Cathedral, main squares and streets, important monuments, future meeting spots, and so on, before stopping again for lunch.
Lunch was the most delicious paella (rice and either chicken, seafood, or vegetables) at El Aviso, along with a wonderfully peppery salad, thinly grilled chicken, and desert pastries (or fruit for me).
Afterwards, we were given free time before student-only dinner at the hotel. Basically the most stress-free, delicious orientation I’ve ever been to. Bonus points for the historical sites and great views.
I plan on updating this blog fairly regularly with my travel adventures and pictures.
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The tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain. Granada was the last Arab stronghold on the peninsula, thus holding significance for them as rulers. So much so that they were initially supposed to be buried in Toledo but built this instead.
Getting all the luggage to fit in the taxi. This included strapping a hiking backpack into the front seat with a seat belt.
Getting onto the tiny plane from Madrid to Granada.
Madrid from above, in the morning.
The Granada Cathedral.
A typical Granada street.