Studying abroad in Granada was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I could talk about it forever, but here are some of the things about IES Granada that I think set it apart:
The IES staff are some of the nicest people I have ever met. The program director, Javier, knows every single student by name and does a wonderful job making everyone feel at home. Everyone who works for IES Granada is dedicated to making the students feel comfortable with classes and the city, and will take extra time to help with personal problems or trip planning. Every professor I had challenged us with interesting and relevant material. I took all of my classes in Spanish, and it was very rewarding to know that I not only understood the language, but also I could also comprehend challenging academic material in Spanish. The Spanish grammar class aimed to teach us practical, local Spanish usage, so it really helped with day-to-day life in Granada. The work wasn't too difficult, but I really felt like I was leaning useful information.
Granada is a great city for students. There are tons of international students there, so it's easy to feel like you fit in. It's also a perfect size. It's a small enough city that you can walk just about everywhere, but doesn't feel too small. I lived about 30 minutes from IES and walked every day. Walking around and exploring with friends is a great way to discover the lesser-known parts of the city and meet interesting locals. There is also such an incredible history and mixture of cultures in Granada. The city has so much to offer to students.
IES field trips were one of my favorite parts of the program. The first trip was to Cabo de Gata, where did a 13-mile hike along the coast of the Mediterranean. We also went to Málaga, Sevilla, Ronda, and Córdoba. The best trip was to Morocco. This is something you just have to do. We stayed with host families in Rabat, talked to University students about Moroccan culture and politics, and cooked lunch at the home of a family that lived in the mountains and spoke to them through a translator. It was one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on.
-Speak Spanish!! Speak to locals in Spanish. Don't try to get them to speak English. It's really the only way to learn.
-Take as many classes in Spanish as you possibly can.
-Take Islamic Art and Architecture--this was by far my favorite class. You get to learn about the history of Granada and go out on weekly visits to architectural sites, including the Alhambra and the cathedral. We had several classes in the Alhambra and got to visit locations closed off to the general public.
-Go out for tapas with friends.
-Make friends with the locals. They can show you a side of Granada you would never get to see otherwise.
-Explore and take advantage of every opportunity given to you.
Overall, my experience in Granada was amazing. I loved everything about the city and made friends that I will keep for life.