1. Siesta is not a joke.
The Spanish take their naps seriously and now so do I. Don’t expect to see me or anyone else from 2-5 pm.
2. If you order sangria, you are officially marked as a tourist.
My accent, or lack there of, does that for me enough so if you want to (try to) fit in, ask for tinto de verano instead.
3. Try everything.
At least once. Just because you don’t like in the States doesn’t mean you won’t like it here. It’s almost ridiculous how different things taste on the opposite side of the ocean.
4. Carbs are everywhere, in everything, all of the time.
And they are delicious. Bread, tortilla española, pizza, pasta, potatoes of all kinds, pasteries, and bocadillos. The list goes on and on. Try them all.
5. Get lost.
If you have a free afternoon with nothing to do, wander the streets of Granada and get lost; you will find something worth it every time. My favorite days have been those I spent meandering around town down random streets with my friends just because they looked cool.
6. You will probably get homesick –and that’s okay!
Missing your home, family, and friends is a totally normal feeling to have and it is not a bad thing. I cried skyping my dog (not ashamed). Time seems to go faster and faster each day so appreciate what you have at home, but then appreciate what you have here even more. My advice is to go out and do something. It makes being sad a whole lot harder.
7. Choose to do a homestay.
There is no person in Spain nicer than my señora, and I am convinced of that. She is the most generous, kindhearted person I have met since leaving America and that is not just because she cooks me delicious meals all day and lets me watch Spanish gameshows with her. Last week I was sick and like every normal person, I wished I had my mom there but Rosario (my señora) stepped right in as my mom-away-from-home and took care of me just as well as my real mom could have. She drove me to the doctor, made me special meals, and bought me cough drops so I could sleep better at night. She is truly one of a kind.
8. Traveling is awesome, but discover your city too.
While you’re in Europe, you want to see it all. I know the feeling all too well. Weekends and travel time are already ticking away and I’ve only been here a month. Of course I would like to hit a new country every weekend and take over the continent as whole, but it just doesn’t make sense. I am living in a city I have never been to with people I have never known. So while you’re on this side of the pond, be sure to take the time to explore and embrace what your city has to offer. You will only get this experience once. I’ve been to Europe before and I know I’m coming back. I’m 21 years old and have my entire life to travel the world, but only these four months to truly know what it’s like to live in Granada.
9. Go by yourself.
I have never felt more independent, excited, or carefree than I have since coming to Granada. The mix of a new city, new friends, and new experiences is a whirlwind. But the biggest part is that this is the first time in my life that I have done something totally on my own and totally for myself. You get to be selfish when you go off on your own. You get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. You make all the decisions. I have never had a time in my life where I have had so few strings attached. It’s a truly unique and wonderful feeling. It has taught me a lot about myself, the type of person I am, and the type of person I want to be.
Also, coming here on my own has forced me to meet new people and try new things and it has really paid off. I have already met so many amazing people here just because I had to, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.