My Semester in Granada, Spain

Ratings
Overall
8
Academics: 7
Support: 10
Fun: 9
Housing: 8
Safety: 9
Review

The ISA Granada program is a great option for those who wish to improve their Spanish skills while becoming immersed in the rich culture and fun social scene of Granada, Spain. One of the best aspects of the semester program is that it offers the option of extending your time abroad by completing an intensive month-long course before beginning the regular semester at the University of Granada's Center for Modern Languages (CLM). The intensive course allowed me to really focus on improving my Spanish because it was my only course for that month, and it met four hours a day for five days every week. I was not used to having classes taught exclusively in Spanish, so this intensive course helped me become comfortable using Spanish on a much more regular basis. By the time I started the regular semester, taking four courses in Spanish at the high-advanced or superior levels was much less intimidating. In terms of the social and cultural adjustment, I think the ISA staff really helped encourage students to become immersed in the Spanish culture by regularly offering tours, activities, and workshops in Granada, as well as several free excursions throughout Spain. Since these options were free and easy to sign up for, and because I felt very comfortable around the ISA staff and students, participating helped me take the first step in being more adventurous while abroad. When I first arrived in Spain, I honestly just wanted to stay in my room and mope about how much I missed home. I was also terrified to speak to any Spaniards in Spanish because I was self-conscious about my abilities in the language and did not want to be judged. However, the activities offered by ISA, as well as the intensive course at the CLM, forced me to get out, see more of Spain, and become more comfortable using the language. This was only the foundation for growth, of course, as there is only so much that ISA can require you to do; I appreciate how the program left it mostly up to me to decide how active I wanted to be as an international student. However, I always felt that the ISA staff wanted nothing less than the best for all of their students and would be more than willing to step in and do whatever they could to help make their students' semester the best experience it could be. Because I had this strong foundation to build from, in addition to a team of program staff and university professors who I always felt were on my side, I eventually felt confident enough in myself to travel outside of Spain alone. I'll admit that at the beginning my first trip, which was to Switzerland, I had a lot of the same feelings of fear and anxiety that I had had when I first arrived in Spain. But then I reminded myself how much I had grown in my first month in Spain and that I could do the same in Switzerland. I was absolutely right, and the changes in myself soon became very apparent. When I first arrived in Spain, I spent over an hour trying to figure out on my own how to get to another part of the airport because I was too afraid of potentially having to ask someone for help in Spanish, a language I had been studying for eight years. But by the time I was in Switzerland, which was only a month later, I found myself confidently ordering food and buying souvenirs in French, a language in which I have just one year of experience. And while I had originally been afraid of getting lost while walking just a mile to class in Granada, I had gained enough confidence in my navigation skills to get myself from the major city of Geneva to a small mountain village located three hours away. This first trip was such a success that I soon found myself wanting to travel by myself as much as possible, booking subsequent trips to Austria and Ireland. I am very thankful to ISA for helping me realize that being abroad does not have to be as scary as you might make it out to be; with the courage and self-motivation that the program helped me acquire, I was able to have what I consider the best experiences of my life by exploring Europe by myself. From now on, whenever I find myself doubting my own abilities, I will always remind myself about my time in Europe, and how it helped me realize that I had had the skills, courage, and confidence inside me all along.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed
2015