Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Classes at the CLM in Granada

This past month has gone by so quickly, mostly thanks to my classes... I can't believe October is nearly over already!

Here is my schedule...

8:30AM - 10:30AM - - Writing and Speaking Practice
4:00PM - 6:00PM - - Spanish Grammar

8:30AM - 10:30AM - - Spanish Literature (up to the 18th century)
10:30AM - 12:30PM - - History of Art in Spain
4:00PM - 6:00PM - - Spanish Civilization and Culture

(No class on Fridays!)

Overall my classes haven't been too bad. I really like my grammar class, but so far my favorite is the literature one. Unfortunately we're only reading excerpts of books and poems and such... I still have yet to read a book in Spanish!

I was super disappointed to find out that there are practically no international students at the school here. There might be some in the highest levels (I made it into upper advanced/level 6, out of 9)... but I'm not sure. Basically everyone is from the US though and there are tons of girls. In Aix and Málaga there were plenty of international students... I really miss that aspect of being in school in another country.

Everything's been pretty smooth though and I'm still learning a lot.
This Thursday my history of art class is even going on a trip to la Alhambra to check out its architecture!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Upon our arrival to Granada, everyone was finally divided up to go and be with their host families.
This time studying abroad, however, I decided to live in a residencia, which has basically turned out to be somewhat of a return to dorm life.

Because there have been multiple groups of ISA kids who seem to never stop arriving here in Granada, I'm not sure how many of us are in the residence, but it seems like it's around 15-20. There are tons of Spanish students here, and it's hard to tell (because some people here speak Spanish really well) but the number of international students seems to be pretty small in comparison. (I'll post some pictures and such of the residencia later on.)

On our first night were taken out by the Spanish students who have already been living at the residencia. They told us to wear pajamas, and when we all met up they drew N's on our foreheads (N for novato, the equivalent of Loser, basically), and then marched us around town. We had to sing songs as we walked, and if we were caught not singing, they drew on our faces more. Some of the guys also sprayed wine on the new students and it was a little bit traumatizing, haha.

The picture here is us ISA students who decided to attend! Although the girl in the middle is actually a Spanish student and a new arrival too... she wasn't very happy about all that was happening to us. (Luckily we at least avoided getting soaked with wine.)

The Spanish students dragged us across town to a popular place where university students like to hang out and drink before heading out to bars and clubs. When they were done with us they left us there to find our way back to the residencia... and of course we got a bit lost. It was an experience to say the least! In a way, I think those Spanish students probably considered it to be more humiliating to us than we felt it was... it was more silly than anything. Apparently this is standard Spanish initiation that students go through when they begin university life though! And indeed there have been plenty more groups that I've seen around town since then doing the same thing.

Pre-Granada: Madrid & Toledo

My semester here in Granda is finally getting underway, but before I even got here with my new ISA group, we stopped in Madrid and Toledo together for a few days to go sight-seeing.

I'd like to say that my flights went smoothly, and for the most part they did, however when flying from New York to Madrid, our flight was delayed two hours because one of the plane's wings was missing a part. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was a simple delay, but they didn't tell us this until after we had already boarded the plane... so we were forced to sit there until someone went and bought the part, brought it back and installed it. Our time sitting on that plane went from seven hours to nine hours... talk about uncomfortable.

This made me a bit late getting to Madrid and meeting up with ISA, but eventually I made it and together we all went to our hotel.

Madrid itself was super cool and it was a little disappointing that we only got to spend two days there. It felt like there was so much to see and do, but not nearly enough time. We took a quick bus tour around the center of the city, and went to the Prado and Reina Sofía museums, which are pretty well known.

I got to know some of the girls in our program and we walked around the city a little bit, got drinks and tapas one night, got lost finding our way back to the hotel another night... it was somewhat overwhelming. Although I wanted to spend more time there, I'm also glad I didn't choose to study in Madrid, especially now that I've seen Granada.

After our stay in Madrid we hopped right over to Toledo, which is a super beautiful town that used to be the capital of Spain. (But again, total bummer that we weren't able to spend more time there or see more sights...)

We spent the day hiking through town together, visiting old churches and learning about King Fernando and Queen Isabel, and then were later turned loose to explore a bit on our own.

We spent the rest of the night at our hotel, and a small group of us went out to get dinner together. The hotels we stayed at were really nice, although it was difficult getting an Internet connection, or else I would have updated on all of this sooner. So much has been happening, and I don't want to get too behind in keeping up with my blog!

We only stayed the night in Toledo, and the following morning we finally set out for Granada.... by this time all of us were ready to see where we would be studying and living and unpack and get settled in at last...

There wasn't much in the way of scenery when we first set out on our bus trip from Toledo, but there were certainly endless rows of olive trees all over Spain... and as we got further south, there began to be a lot more mountains... it's not easy to describe just how lovely the south of Spain is.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Quick Stop in the US

I needed to go back to the US for a couple of weeks between my two study abroad programs in order to pick up my Spanish visa so that I could study in Granada during the fall.

Getting home was quite an ordeal - I left Málaga around 7:00PM on the last Friday in August and didn't return home until around noon the following Sunday, thanks to long layovers and delayed flights.

But, it was nice to be home! There are always things you miss when you're abroad... friends and family, certain foods, even the lifestyle.

So, Dad and I went up to New York City to pick up my visa, and I just wanted to share a few of the pictures from our time there. We ended up getting a parking ticket, although Dad just e-mailed me saying that he managed to appeal it - so everything went really well, honestly! We stayed the night at Aunt Joanne's house, made our way to the city, got my visa without any troubles, and even went to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for a little bit.

Catching Up: Final Pictures and Thoughts

I was not ready to leave Málaga and I still miss it, my host family, my roommate and the friends I made, the food, the weather... everything went by so quickly but it was a great experience and it definitely prepared me for my following semester in Granada. I feel a bit guilty for being so slow to update this, so here are some final pictures from Málaga that I really wanted to share here.

The courtyard at school, just outside of the classroom where I had all of my classes.

My class, with our first grammar teacher. Julian, Sandro, Mary, myself and Ayako (and Dustin is missing, he took the picture because he didn't want to be in it).

Mary and me at the front of the UM building on the last day of class.

Gen, Mary, myself and Bridget - our last night in Málaga together.

I had a great view out my window and was always taking pictures of the sunrises and sunsets.

There were a few ways to get from our apartment into the main part of Málaga, and this was one of my favorite ways.

This guy spoke French fluently and I regret not trying to practice speaking more with him. My mind has been so set in Spanish, and it was hard to decide whether to practice both of them or try to focus only on Spanish.

Down at the port - this reminds me a lot of the pathway that they have in Nice.

Jasmine flowers. They smell so good - there are tons growing in the south of Spain and they're treasured in Málaga (there was even a man selling porcelain Jasmine jewelry down at the port).

Another view of the port, when we took a boat ride around the coast. Málaga was like a paradise! The port especially was really pretty, and apparently they only just recently fixed it up.

All in all Málaga was an incredible and unforgettable success. It was the most hectic mix between studying and having fun that I've ever experienced. And for as much as I saw and did, I'm especially glad at how much Spanish I learned... I honestly wish I could study a month abroad like this every summer!