Imagine for a moment you're favorite vacation or Spring Break surrounded by friends - relaxing at the beach, taking a road trip, partying it up at Night with locals, or finding new and exciting places to learn about, eat at, or explore. My Semester in Granada through AIFS was that and more.
Sure during the weekdays I attended the University of Granada, taking all of my classes (Politics of Spain, Cultures of Latin America, Business, and Spanish writing and conversation) in Spanish and I Learned a lot about Spain through these classes, but there is so much more to learn outside the classroom on and AIFS trip. I got involved with the University water polo team which turned out to be a great way to get excercise, make local friends, and practice spanish. Our AIFS class also participated in intramural volleyball and soccer.
Weeknights were anxiously anticipated by our class because they brought with them the chance to go out for (free) tapas and a variety of great local atmospheres. We enjoyed the culinary intricacies of each plate, just as we did the micro cultures of the bars we ate them in. And after a few plates and many laughs we would inevitably head out to some of the great night attractions in the city. Be it a relaxing low key night at a tea restaurant or hookah lounge, or a lively night at one of the discoteccas, there is definitely plenty of opportunities to meet other young students and locals.
Of course weekends were also anxiously awaited as AIFS often planned exciting trips and activities for us to attend. We explored the city from every aspect, taking walking tours through the near by mountains and villages like Sacramonte, and through historic places like the breathtaking Alhambra. Of course we didn't just stay in town either. The program offered trip throughout the country (Madrid, Toledo, Seville, and Gibraltar to name a few)lead by professional guides, and always stopping to get a taste of the local foods. I never had to worry about planning out my travel, accommodations, or anything else on these trips, although we were given some free time to explore on our own if we desired.
That being said, I was able to also book a trip with friends I had made through the program to Lisbon and a road trip to other cities in Spain, as well as a meet up with friends from high school who were abroad in Vienna. Once you are in Europe, make the most of it and travel to other cities and countries!
My homestay was another great way to immerse myself in the Spanish culture. I only used Spanish to communicate with my Senora (house mom), which gave me great practice with the language. She also made me three meals a day of traditional spanish foods. I do have to say that the Spanish aren't known for eating breakfast, so I was glad to have a few bakeries and a dunkin doughnuts near by. And while lunches like paella and Spanish chorizo with eggs were to die for, some dinners were a little lacking as we often were just given a sandwich or some type of vegetable based ensalada. If you do plan to do a homestay, know that you are a temporary son or daughter to a Senora (and possibly her family) for a short period of time sou you must be respectful at all times. Also In Spain most people do not have air conditioning in their homes, dryers for laundry (which is washed hand dried and folded for you by your Senora), or guests over. But you can easily adapt to the changes after about two weeks.
From Bull fights to flamenco dancing, from local festivals, to historic tours of amazing places, I am so thankful to have found such a great program. I made some great friends, and unforgettable memories. I had an amazing adventure with AIFS Granada and would do it again in a heartbeat. The key to a great study abroad experience is to go with an open mind and not only be willing to do whatever comes your way, but to seize opportunities and seek them out. Don't let this opportunity with AIFS Granada pass you by.
Here is a short video of the places I went when abroad. Most of these pictures were taken on excursions planned with AIFS to cities in England, Spain, and Morocco. (The AIFS Study abroad counted towards my Rollins College INB Major) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNLjuNtlqiI
Also here is a blog I created while abroad with pictures and descriptions of places I went and things I did: