As a true Granadinian, I could give you lots of reasons to choose this unique city, but I’d rather let Stacie, a former Arcadia Granada student, speak to you. She spent last summer in Granada, and like she puts it, “It was truly the experience of a lifetime.”
Getting here was not easy – there is a whole lot of thinking, deciding, planning, committing… but in the end, it will all be worth it:
“After loads of planning, many trips to my university education abroad office, and numerous scholarship applications, I found myself studying abroad in Granada, Spain for five-weeks this past June in an intensive Spanish language program through Arcadia University. Before classes started, I decided that I wanted to do some traveling on my own and made plans to go to both London and Paris. They both were insanely cool places that I would love to visit again, but when people ask about my favorite place I went this summer, Granada wins hands down”.
Why is this? Granada is certainly a very special place, almost custom-made for students:
“The city of Granada was everything that I could have hoped for in a study abroad destination. With a population of around 234,000, it is a bit smaller than the city where I go to college. It is actually a college town itself! Everyone I encountered seemed to be incredibly friendly, and, best of all, I was able to practice my Spanish everywhere that I went. There were ten students including myself who were there through Arcadia for the summer program. Our small group became incredibly close during our time together, and I will forever be thankful for those friendships.”
If you finally decide to study in Granada, you will have to decide where to live. Stacie chose, without a doubt, to live with a local family. Here is why:
“The decision to live with a host family during my time in Spain was a no-brainer. Immersion really is the key to learning a language, and I personally think it should be a requirement for anyone majoring in a foreign language. My host-mother, Pepa, was absolutely wonderful. She is the sweetest lady, and the BEST cook. Her two story apartment took no time at all to feel like home. […][My roommate], Alice, [and I] decided to try and speak solely Spanish when we were at home to practice, and it worked really well.”
How about academics? The Arcadia summer offer is extensive (as the semester), and there is some flexibility on course selection: you can choose between the Intensive Spanish Program, and the Language and Culture Program (intermediate and higher). Arcadia students are registered for courses at the University of Granada Centro de Lenguas Modernas, a world referent in the teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language:
“My classes were held in El Centro de Lenguas Moderns, CLM for short, which was only about a 15-minute walk from my host family's apartment. I took two different classes, for a total of 6 credits; […] for the first two weeks of class I also took a 1-credit conversation class. Overall, I learned far more Spanish than I ever have in the United States. The level of intensity of the course work and the expectations from the professors was dramatically higher than anything I have ever experienced, but I would not have wanted it to be any other way.”
But it is not just about studying! Students enjoy plenty of free time every day and on weekends. There is time for tapas, intercambios, cultural visits, and trips:
“The first weekend in Granada I took a guided tour of the incredible Alhambra. This was something set up through Arcadia, and it was amazing! The Alhambra is beautiful and incredibly fascinating.
That same weekend some friends and I decided to take a day trip down to the coast, only about an hour by bus, to spend the day at the beach. […] Two of the other weekends I was there, I decided to take some quick trips to Portugal and Morocco. Though I wish I would have had more weekends to spend in Granada, I do not regret visiting either of these places.
Arcadia planned a number of activities and excursions throughout the entirety of my program, the biggest being a weekend trip to Cabo de Gata, a beautiful national park in Andalusia. We took a driving tour with a charismatic local as our guide, spent time on the beach, and I even was able to go snorkeling for the first time! Other fun activities Arcadia planned for us included getting tapas, a cooking class where we were able to learn to make Paella, and a Flamenco show! We went to a traditional show in a cave in Granada, and it was amazing!”
Time flies, and it was the last week in Granada. That means… final exams!
“[…] the last week of my stay in Granada […] was full of studying for finals and bittersweet thoughts about leaving the relaxed Spanish life I had began to grow accustomed to (still missing siesta time...). Alice and I spent our afternoons in cafes where we had become regulars during our time there, and I planned the travels that would wrap up my trip before returning to the United States. The final exams for my classes were tough, I won't lie, but the challenge that I got from my classes there was refreshing and encouraging that I was actually learning something. My grades all ended up just fine, and I am proud of the progress that I made in both my Spanish comprehension and speaking abilities.”
Inevitably, the program came to an end. It was time for last shopping, packing, goodbyes, and the Arcadia farewell dinner:
“On July 1st, I said goodbye to my host mother and goodbye to beautiful Granada. Doing so was far from easy, but I left with full confidence that I will return again someday. I really do not know if I will ever be able to match the experiences that I had this summer. My time in Spain and all of the other places I visited is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I came back from my trip with more confidence and a new view of the world that I did not have before. I have been inspired to work harder in my Spanish language studies, I have new friends from all over the globe, and I already am looking forward to traveling somewhere new. It was truly the experience of a lifetime”.
Thanks to Stacie for sharing her experiences (and pictures). You can read more of Stacie's blog here.