Studying abroad through IES Abroad Granada was the best decision I could've made. From the amazing program staff, to my beloved host mom, and the city Granada itself, I felt supported, challenged, and excited on a daily basis. I had the opportunity to take fun and engaging classes- a Spanish class, flamenco dancing, a literature course, a feminist film course, and a class on Islamic architecture (you get to have class in the Alhambra!!). The program offers support in helping students engage in the community. Through IES, I was able to take an extracurricular painting class at a local community art center. Every week, an email of all the amazing events and activities going on goes out- language meet ups, cool tapas bars to check out, museum exhibits... anything under the sun! IES takes students on incredible excursions- one of my favorites was our trip to Morocco, where we had the opportunity to stay in homestay families in Rabat and explore a bunch of different cities. I cannot say enough good things about the staff- Javier is absolutely the best person on the planet for this job, and I loved getting to know the folks at IES Granada. They strike an excellent balance of making students feel comfortable and supported while giving students independence and opportunity to shape their own experiences.
Granada itself is truly a magical city, with beautiful mountains, tons of nooks and crannies to explore, an abundance of tapas, and wonderful people. I loved sitting in a plaza with a café con leche after class, soaking up the Spanish sun and reading a book or talking with a friend. It's very walkable, very beautiful, and the ideal size for studying abroad- big enough where I felt like I had plenty to explore, but small enough to get to know well. There is also access to nature right outside of the city. I would hike often in the nearby rolling hills, or take a short bus ride to the beautiful Alpujarra, where you can explore the Sierra Nevada and take a breather from the city.
One of the biggest highlights for me was my host mom- she was undoubtedly my best friend while I was abroad, and I learned so much from living with her. She made me feel like family right off the bat, and hanging out with her skyrocketed my Spanish speaking abilities. We went shopping together, went for churros and chocolate, and spent many hours having long chats about life! Living with her was so special, and an experience I will hold in my heart forever.
I also had a really special experience with my intercambio, a local student from the University of Granada. She became one of my close friends, and we would meet for coffee or tapas every couple of weeks. I loved hanging out with the orientadores, local students who lead fun excursions for IES students and also help with orientation at the beginning of the semester. I did a bunch of cool activities with them- went to art exhibits, to cafés, on a hike in a nearby town. I established a strong relationship with one of them, and was invited to her house for lunch at the end of the semester! (a big deal in Spanish culture!)
IES Abroad Granda is an amazing program! I truly loved it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an immersive experience full of challenge, fun, and adventure!