The Experience of a Lifetime: Study Abroad in Granada


November 14, 2022

Student: Jasper Beardslee
PROGRAM: STEM Summer Research, granada
HOME SCHOOL:  Bates College

I honestly would recommend the Arcadia Granada program to anyone who wants to spend time in Spain, but also wants to be outside of their comfort zone. The summer was definitely challenging in many ways, but rewarding in so many as well."

The summer of 2021 was especial for several reasons. It was the first in-person program since March 2020. Students were coming back! After 15 months without them, everything felt like a brand-new job and experience. We were nervous: the situation was still uncertain, everything was complicated (there were restrictions for every tiny activity), so many things could go wrong. And then, students arrived. They were back. It was real. The summer 2021 cohort will remain in our fondest memories forever. Despite the difficulties, the restrictions, and the uncertainty, students were so happy to be abroad! And they made things so easy for us.

Within this group, Jasper Beardslee stood out, personally and academically. The first words that come to mind when I think about Jasper and his time in Spain are smart, funny, engaged, and always smiling. He participated in EVERY Arcadia activity, and actively used his Spanish skills all the time, which is not typical for students in the STEM program. Jasper seemed to love every minute he spent in Granada and knew how to make the most of this time here. It was a pleasure to have him on our program in Spain. He then was selected for the 2021 Outstanding Student Scholar Award, based on his academic achievements in the STEM Research program, his commitment to participating in the local community (particularly in the use of his Spanish language skills), and his dedication to maximizing his experience abroad through engagement in co-curricular events and excursions. His STEM research work and final research project were remarkable as well, certainly making him worthy of this award.

I am happy to present you with Jasper Beardslee´s reflection and tips for future students. I am sure he will come back to Granada eventually. We sure do miss him! 

Marta Cabrera

Why did you choose to study abroad? Why Arcadia Granada?
I was really interested in both improving my foreign language skills through immersion, and experiencing life outside of the United States. Before going abroad to Granada, I had never spent any significant amount of time outside of the country. Spain caught my eye because, as a Spanish minor, I could actively work on my Spanish skills every day just by living and interacting with the city.

I think that Granada caught my eye because it is a city with a rich history, and an intriguing cultural influence. I wanted to go somewhere interesting, where I could explore both the city and the natural resources around it. I loved that Granada was right next to the Sierra Nevada mountain range! Seriously! It was so cool walking around and seeing these huge mountains!

(If you like to run like I do, here is a link to a cool trail that goes into the rural Granada countryside with GREAT views of the mountains! Just follow the river out of the city along a beautiful trail.

Was the summer program in Granada what you expected? In which ways?
In all honesty, there were surprises around every corner during my experience. I made great friends and did valuable work, but it was also difficult being away from home in a foreign country. But in the end I was extremely glad that I went. I think that my life would be very different if I had not gone to Granada (I know it sounds corny, but it's true).

You have LOTS of freedom. I was used to living on my own, so this was expected. But if you have never lived on your own, I think that this is a great first step. I lived with three other STEM research students, so I always had someone to eat a meal with if I wanted!

What do you wish you had known before studying abroad in Granada?
This is going to sound a little odd, but I wish that I knew how to cook better before going abroad to Granada. I was making all of my meals for myself for the duration of the program, and my lack of significant cooking experience combined with foreign grocery stores pushed me to learn how to properly cook good food. After the summer, I had a full repertoire of cheap, easy, and delicious meals!

Oh another thing is that during the summer, Granada is HOT. Like really hot (and I am from Florida!). By the end of summer, I was used to the heat, but it still took a little while. Luckily it's a dry heat but it is still very intense. I found that it was best to get on the Spanish meal schedule ASAP because the sun goes down close to 10pm. Try to eat dinner around 8 or 9 so that when you try to go to sleep, at least the sun has gone down and it has started to cool down a little!

Also, be ready to walk EVERYWHERE. Public transportation was good, but not necessary unless you are going outside of the city IMO. I was able to walk wherever I needed to go with ease, and the IISTA (where you do your research) is close by. A car is definitely not necessary at all!

What was the most challenging aspect of your transition from American college life to Spanish University life?

I think one of the most challenging aspects of my experience in Granada was how lonely it can be sometimes. I definitely made great friends (both through the Arcadia program and just generally by meeting people in the city) but I still found it hard to be away from my friends and home for so long.

But I think that challenge is what made the experience so rewarding for me. It is almost like you start from scratch for the summer, and get to be a new person in a brand new place! Plus, Marta and Sergio do an AMAZING job of providing activities and opportunities to see/do cool things around Granada and Spain.


What was the biggest challenge in regards to your academic program in Granada (STEM Summer Research)?

I think that the biggest challenge academically for me was learning all of the background information for my project. My research project centered around aerosol pollution and data representation, but I had very little knowledge with regard to aerosols. Thus I had to do a significant amount of background research so that I was up to speed and could do good work. I think that if you are not initially well versed in your area of research, be prepared to have to sequester a significant amount of new knowledge in a small time frame.

What were the highlights of your summer in Granada?
Some highlights and links to the places!

1: Playing frisbee and volleyball with friends at Parque Tico Medina.

2: Swimming around the Rocks of San Cristobal (in Almuñécar, beach town close to the city)- So many cool fish, and the water was AMAZING during the hot summer!

3: Hiking at Los Cahorros: you can take a bus to get here! Super easy and cheap!, and the CLM also offers excursions for students. Very fun and cool to be in the mountains!

4: Eating lunch every week at Taberna El Trastero. I LOVED this restaurant, and befriended the owners. They serve many traditional Spanish dishes for SUPER CHEAP! 7 Euros during lunch gets you a drink, an entree, and a dessert! My go to was a coffee or beer, tortilla de patata, and flan for dessert.

5: Playing pool at Bar Entresuelo! So fun, cheap to play pool and cheap drinks as well. They also have weekly intercambios where you can meet local students!

6: Playing Ultimate Frisbee with Granada Granayd.

What is one thing that every Granada student should do?

EXPLORE THE CITY ON YOUR OWN! I know it's scary, I was scared too. But I would have never found such cool places or activities if I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone. Go watch a soccer game at a local bar! Join a local sports club! Pick a restaurant on the other side of the city and walk there! Seriously though, take advantage of being in Spain…its great!

Why would you recommend Granada to other students?

I honestly would recommend the Arcadia Granada program to anyone who wants to spend time in Spain, but also wants to be outside of their comfort zone. The summer was definitely challenging in many ways, but rewarding in so many as well. Anyone with a spirit for adventure and a desire to learn will do GREAT in Granada :)

What have you been up to after your time abroad? How did Arcadia have an impact on your experience?

I just graduated from my undergraduate college (Bates) in Maine! Currently, I am playing for a semi-professional ultimate frisbee team in Portland, Maine. I am planning on working as a cartographer or data scientist in the field of Environmental Justice. Arcadia abroad definitely impacted this, as I am using many of the skills that I learned over the summer in professional contexts!

What are your future plans?

Right now, honestly, I am not entirely sure! I have a sinking suspicion I will end back up in Spain, or somewhere new in the world. I plan on continuing to work in the field of Environmental Justice, and having new adventures along every step of the way! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk about Granada/ Arcadia abroad! My email is