This program was amazing! Granada is a perfect town to live in because of its beauty and atmosphere. Everyone is really welcoming and it's a safe city that still offers lots of site seeing and night-life opportunities. It also is great for learning Spanish since English is not as wide-spread as in Madrid or other huge cities (although if you don't speak much Spanish you can definitely get around. All touristy destinations and most restaurants will have an English-speaking worker). The on-site coordinators really care about your well being and are great, funny people. If you have any school or travel question they are more than willing to help, and they are there for emotional support if you need it too.
I'm a Spanish major and went in with 300 level Spanish skills and had a great time! I tested into level 7 (and then moved into level 8 after the intensive month was over) so all of my courses were completely in Spanish which was surprisingly comfortable and enjoyable. My roommate had very little Spanish skills (level 3) and she still enjoyed her classes too. The professors did a great job of teaching the info in an engaging way and had lots of experience with American students. Classes were more challenging than I expected, but they tend to not have much homework and they're only 4 days a week.
Our excursions were fantastic and when I spoke to other students in Granada with different programs we were significantly cheaper, but went on the same, or more excursions. We were one of the only programs that had excursion that went to other countries, and we also had lots of freedom when visiting places. I would recommend going to Barcelona on your own, since it is not one of the excursions.
I did the early start option and would highly recommend it since it let me warm up my Spanish before having to be put into semester classes. As mentioned in an earlier review, the placement test is a little intimidating, but really wasn't as bad as I thought. But, I would still recommend brushing up on your Spanish before coming. The early-start option also gives you more time to be immersed in the culture and travel, but don't worry people who do the semester program still get a great experience. There were 2-3 students on my program who enjoyed it so much that they decided to stay the entire year rather than just a semester!
Only downside is that it can be more expensive to buy plane tickets from Granada in comparison to Madrid/Barcelona because the airport is smaller and the flights are much longer from Granada. Day to day cost of living is low though.
I lived with a host family and really enjoyed it. Forces you to speak Spanish and you learn more about the local events and cultural differences (plus they were really nice). I wouldn't recommend living in an apartment if you wan to improve your Spanish. The residencias are good, but can sometimes feel more controlling from what I heard and occasionally you're placed with other api students which doesn't help your language skills.
I can't recommend this enough!