I remember perfectly the first time I saw Emily at Granada airport. She had just landed in Spain, and her face was a mix of excitement and fear. I could tell she was eager to start the whole experience, but shy to unfold her ability to speak Spanish.
I was impressed by her progress through her time in Granada, not just in her language skills (ah, that subjunctive), but mostly by her capacity to blend in, put a smile to every difficulty (and there were a few), and eagerness to keep learning. During our four days in Morocco, she was worried she would lose her Spanish, so we used a two-hour bus ride to review some grammar, and she kept writing and reflecting on her Spanish journal every single day. Her determination has surely been rewarded. Emily turned every adventure in Spain into a learning experience, reflecting on all of them in a healthy way, and gained the confidence to keep moving forward both with Spanish and with her career plans. I am looking forward to seeing where life takes her.
I would like to present you with Emily Cruz-Pineda´s reflections on her study abroad experience. Emily studied in Granada in the fall of 2019. Halfway into the semester, she decided she could not have enough of the city, and applied to stay for the full academic year. In this process she changed her major to Spanish and might have found a vocation for life.
I do believe she made the most of her time in Granada and Spain. I am sure she will come back as soon as possible. We sure do miss her!
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To this day I believe that this program chose me. There were other Spanish-speaking countries/ cities that I had the option to choose, but circumstances continuously led me to Granada. In all honesty, the only expectations I held was to improve my Spanish, all the other amazing opportunities that presented themselves to me were a bonus! For example, I met the most amazing group of people that helped make my experience abroad so unique and memorable. I traveled to places where I learned more about the other cultures and lifestyles that share this planet with me, and most importantly I was able to recognize my yearning to continue creating global connections and traveling the world.
The only thing I wish I would have known before traveling to Granada would be how much I was going to love it. I would have brought more money so I could move out there for the summer and truly cash in on my Granadino citizenship. I am very grateful for my transition to Spanish lifestyle. I believe that keeping an open mind and not going in with too many expectations helped me. I really enjoyed taking a break from my American college schedule –that is jam-packed with sports, work, and homework, that it was nice being able to concentrate on my language apprehension and focusing on enjoying the moment.
Semester highlights would have to be: being able to enjoy the beautiful city, walks to los miradores or through Paseo de los Tristes. Also the cornerstone trip to Morocco was truly amazing, I enjoyed how guided the trip was and the intentional activity choices to immerse us into the culture and city. My advice to a new Granada student would be: try to take walks every day, and each day find a different path to walk. The city is small enough to not get lost but offers so many different hidden gems with just a turn of the corner. This would be one of the reasons I recommend Granada. If you like city life this place offers you that, if you want to be low-key and enjoy beautiful views, walks, and nature, this program offers you that. Because Granada is filled with so many eras and cultures, it just offers you way more than you could ever imagine.
Arcadia in Granada is for anyone who wants to immerse themselves into Spanish culture, connect with amazing staff –that ALWAYS support you–, and evolve into a better person. For any future student considering Granada, please find some way to document your experience. For me, I kept a regular journal and a traveling journal for documenting trips or outings. Find what best suits you, like taking videos or keeping a list of tapas and what you thought of them, and this way you’ll have something to reflect back on when you are taking your flight back home after an amazing time in Spain.
After being in Granada, a lot of things changed for me personally and academically. I reached a new level of confidence and independence in Granada, it helped me step out of my perspective and see a more holistic picture of the world and how I contribute to it. I entered this program as an Education studies major and a Spanish minor, and I left the program as a Spanish major and Ed. Studies minor. Like I mentioned earlier, I feel a calling to work with language exchange students and help people make those global connections. Because these realizations have just come to light, I do not have a plan to execute them. But just like Granada found me, I am sure an opportunity will present itself when the time is right.