IES Granada was an awesome experience, and I would recommend it to anyone with a Spanish language background willing to explore this beautiful city and culture!
IES Abroad and IES Granada staff were super helpful, from the beginning by making sure we got our visas ready to our 2-day orientation program in Málaga. Throughout the semester, they made sure that we were settling in okay, meeting locals, and then preparing for our return home. I ended up having a foot injury that lasted throughout the semester, but the staff was super kind about checking in on me, and also arranging doctors visits with a translator and taxi up to the hospital.
We always knew what was happening in Granada because of the weekly Agenda email that we received. Our orientation leader joked that she forwards it to all her friends because it is the most comprehensive list of events in the city. IES also planned field trips within Southern Spain and to Morocco to help us learn more about the region's history and stunning sites. The Morocco trip, optional but most students choose to go, was carefully planned to be more than just a tourist visit, as we stayed with host families for 2 nights and met with 2 NGOs and a lot of local students.
The best part about my experience was getting to know locals. I found two groups of local students, one through an "intercambio" program that IES set up to give us each a language partner, and the other through the university church group. Both groups welcomed me in, and I was able to improve my Spanish a lot and and learn more about Spain through these friendships. I´m already trying to figure out when to return because of these strong connections that I made!
On the academic side, IES has a lot of great classes to offer its students at its own program site, with professors from the University of Granada. I was able to take all of my classes in Spanish, but in a smaller classroom than at the university. We were able to explore much of the city and its history through classes like Islamic Art and Architecture, or take classes I wouldn't usually get to take, like watercolor.
My living situation was great! I had a lovely set of host parents who really welcomed us into the family. My roommate and I were even able to travel with our host mom to her hometown and meet her father and brother. Her cooking was excellent, and although not everyone had such a positive experience, I think overall most students in both homestays and residential living were happy with their choices.
Overall, the IES Granada semester was well-run and made sure we felt at home. They even cooked us a Thanksgiving dinner :)
(note: I am an Ambassador for IES Abroad, but only because I felt so much support from IES with my injury and semester, that I wanted to share my experience with others!)