Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Ashley Whitwell
As I knew it would, time has got away from me. Somehow, I woke up one morning and two months in Spain have gone by! I’m now halfway done with my study abroad experience, but based off how quickly this time has flown by, I’m sure it’ll feel like the blink of an eye when I’m on that plane heading back to the States.
At this point, I’ve seen three countries and 13 cities. By the end of this month, I’ll be adding another country and seven more cities. I spent the first half of this trip exploring Spain: Granada, Málaga, Baeza, Úbeda, Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Córdoba, and Seville. The latter half will be spent hiking through Italy, seeing the City of Love, overlooking the cliffs of Moher, and visiting family friends in England. My Great European Adventure is far from over.
There are still some days where I get “homesick,” but I don’t dwell on those times; I actually get excited because it means I have something to look forward to when I get home. But more often I find myself wishing my loved ones were here so they could experience this city with me. No matter how many pictures I send, videos I post or stories I tell, no one will ever be able to fully appreciate it until they come and experience this city for themselves, because Granada is truly one of a kind. Every day I am so glad I chose to study here. It doesn’t have the “big city” feel like Barcelona or Madrid, because it’s trying so hard to keep the modern out. Granadinos are so proud to live here and be amongst such prominent history. It’s really heartwarming to hear how much the locals love their city, and how they keep to the traditional Spanish lifestyle people told me to expect. I’m not saying I love eating bread for breakfast every day (man, I could really go for some pancakes) an Granadinos love their eating schedule. The women in the residencia make homemade tomato paste for us every morning, and they set out an assortment of toppings so we Americans can appreciate the breakfast bread thing (which I’m starting to warm up to… It’s the fish with the heads still attached that still makes me a little uncomfortable). Living in a city that people are so proud to be from really allows me to appreciate it even more.
I have been so lucky to meet such amazing people here in Spain through AIFS, through the CLM at the university, and in my residencia. As a result, a lot of my time is spent getting to know these people and going out with them. That, plus the time difference, makes it a little harder to keep in constant touch with family and friends back home. It’s a balancing game getting to know all these new people, keeping my loved ones updated, and making sure I’m finding time for myself. It took a while, but now I really feel like I have the pattern down.
I knew that this semester wasn’t going to be a “blow-off” semester, and I knew taking all my classes in another language was going to be a challenge as well. Time that I wish I could spend exploring the city is instead spent inside studying. I knew what I was getting myself into though. I know what’s required to graduate on time, and obviously I’m willing to put in this extra effort. But on days when I have to get caught up on my classes, I just wish I could treat this as a blow-off semester too and get to see even more.
I feel like there’s still so much left of Granada to discover, and time’s flying by so fast. I’m glad I don’t spend my time inside dwelling over missing my family, but and it is so important to balance school and fun, so I don’t regret the way I’m spending my semester. I just wish there was more time.
This post was contributed by Ashley Whitwell, who is spending her semester studying abroad with AIFS in Granada, Spain.