Alumni Spotlight: Carla Quiroga

Carla Quiroga is 21 years old and lives in Los Angeles, California. She studied abroad in Granada, Spain from January 4th- May 24 ( Spring 2013), and during her time there she attended the University of Granada and was a student at the CLM, Centro De Lenguas Modernas.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Carla Quiroga coast of spain

Carla: All the amazing people I met. There is no doubt about it, the people you met while you’re abroad are the ones that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I only returned from my trip about five months ago, but already I know that some of the relationships I have formed out there are going to be around my entire life. In addition to the people I met, what made my experience special is wanderlust. You start to believe the world is at your fingertips, and for the first time, and maybe the only time, ( hopefully not) in your life- it really is!

What is one piece of advice you'd give future AIFS Granada, Spain students?

Carla: Breathe, eat, drink, speak, and live Spain! Enjoy the culture, the atmosphere, the food and most importantly enjoy yourself. As soon as you feel as though you’ve done and seen it! The beautiful thing about being in Europe is that you can travel at a bargain price and you can do it in a weekend. One of the most amazing things I experienced during my time there was coming back to class on Monday morning and asking all my peers how their weekend went, and instead of getting the usual “ I just stayed home.” or “ I went out with some friends” I heard, “ I went to Portugal and it was amazing!” or “ I was in Morocco for the past week and I slept in the desert “ This was the norm, this was our life. Just remember to seek all opportunities and seize every single moment.

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Carla: My favorite food from Granada was Plato Alpujarreño. It was a delicious hearty meal that consisted of pork chop, mashed potatoes, a half a sausage link, and a poached egg. I’d skip home every Wednesday extremely excited to have lunch! It’s really impossible to just pick one food because Granada has the best desserts I think I’ve ever had. One very popular place was Cafe Futbol, this place was confectionary heaven, and my favorite thing on the menu was the churros con chocolate. About 3 euros can buy a you half a dozen of these fried-dough pastries, along with a small cup of hot chocolate that had more of a pudding-like consistency. My taste buds died and went to heaven at least three times a week in Granada.

Where was your best photo taken and what was it of?

Carla:My best photo was taken outside of my apartment of a man playing his accordion. It was taken from the balcony to my apartment that overlooked the main street. I consider it my “best” photo, not because it’s aesthetically pleasing, but the meaning it holds for me. Since my arrival to Granada in January, I noticed huge heaps of garbage piled up all over the city, it was my first time anywhere outside of California so a part of me assumed this is the way things were in this part of the world. Eventually a professor explained to the class that the garbage men had been on strike for nearly a month and that was why the city had become so infested with trash. Anyway, the day I shot this photo it was the first time since I had arrived that the streets were clean.

The sun was finally out after a couple of days of pouring rain, and this man was playing his accordion outside of my apartment. He was playing Llorando Se Fue. a song that made me think of my dad and home, but for the first time my thoughts didn’t make me homesick, they made me grateful for my family and grateful that I was able to experience this new life in a another country. It had been nearly a month since I arrived, and it barely hit me then and there…”I’m in Spain!”

Carla Quiroga AIFS granada

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

Carla: I grew up with Spanish as my second language so the language barrier most student experience abroad, wasn’t something I expected to come across, but I definitely did! The pacing of words, the pronunciation, the slang, the accents, it all sounded so foreign, I even questioned if they were really speaking Spanish.

I thought I had a fair understanding of the language before I left, I spoke it at home, and I could write read and write it fairly well, but Spanish changes from country to country, even more than that it changes from city to city. I visited other parts of Spain while I was there such as Sevilla, Barcelona, and Madrid and you can hear the differences in every city.