One of the driving forces behind my plan to travel and study was the desire to be awed. I wanted more than anything to be in the presence of something bigger than me, something that would leave me wonder struck and inspired. I wanted to be surrounded by history and monuments and evidence that these stories were real, and that I was witnessing it with all my senses. Just as I had hoped, these feelings have been evoked countless times since coming to Spain. Everything about the culture and history of Granada seems so unique compared to other places I have traveled. Granada is a relatively small city that has been strongly influenced by Judaism, Christianity, and the Moors, all of which has affected its history and development.
One of my first experiences of being absolutely floored was the first tour that AIFS scheduled for us the day after arrival to La Alhambra. Of course I was familiar with the history from classes I’ve taken in college, but climbing the steep hill leading to its entrance and seeing this stunningly beautiful palace before me in all its glory was something I couldn’t have prepared myself for. Wandering through the courtyards and royal gardens and seeing for myself the interwoven presence of Arab and Christian symbols and motifs and why their coexistence was vital to life in Granada were experiences that were truly special and proof that the world really is the best classroom.
Even at an early stage in this trip, I can see why my advisors kept encouraging me to study abroad. Being in an atmosphere where I am learning and improving my Spanish speaking skills while integrating into an entirely new culture is not an experience that I can find while studying at home. When else will I have the opportunity to take a summer to live in a different country? Studying abroad has shown me to take advantage of everything the world has to offer and that taking an interest in learning and being curious are beautiful things!