The Catholic University of America

Jessica Cashin - Granada

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. Granada is very much an under-appreciated city. It sort of gets overshadowed by Barcelona and Madrid, but there is so much beauty to take in here and so many unique experiences to have.
  2. FREE TAPAS! Whenever you go into a tapas bar at night and order a drink, you get a free tapa, or small plate, to go with your drink! It makes it really inexpensive to go eat dinner!
  3. You don't just have to stay in Granada for the whole semester, the program organizes lots of cool trips to places around Spain like Seville and Cordoba, and even a five day trip to Morocco!
  4. The class selection is made up of things that you can really only do in Granada. For example, I decided to take a Flamenco class! Flamenco is a music and dance style native to southern Spain, so this is really one of the best, and one of the only, places to get a Flamenco education.
  5. Granada is a fantastic place to hone your language skills, if that's something that interests you. The program even sets you up with an "intercambio," another student from Spain with whom you can meet up so that they can practice their English while you practice your Spanish!

 

What I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Went

  • Arriving in late January means arriving in the middle of "rebajas" season, aka the after-Christmas sale season with tons of crazy deals. Leave extra room in luggage for copious amounts of fashionable European purchases.
  • All the sidewalks and a lot of the streets are cobblestone. Heels are not always a wise decision.
  • Granada may be warmer than a lot of people in the US are used to during the summer, but it's still pretty chilly most days through March, so pack accordingly!
  • American credit cards will give you problems from time to time when buying certain things like bus tickets or phone credit, so always carry some cash on you!
  • Dogs roam freely around here, no leashes or anything, and because of that, they leave little bits of proof around that they've been there. Watch your step!

 

A Funny Story or Situation

I did an internship in Granada at a Spanish nonprofit, and every Thursday because of my schedule I would eat lunch with them at the office. One particular Thursday it was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day, about 75 degrees outside. I was so excited for the beautiful weather, because it had been colder earlier in the week. I put on a cute floral skirt (above my knees, but still an appropriate length) and a nice top with sleeves that came down to about my elbows and some sandals. Now, even though it was beautiful weather, Spaniards still dress for the Alaskan tundra until it hits about 80, then maybe they'll tone it down to just a light sweater, and you'll never EVER see them in shorts or flip flops, unless they're going to the beach. Anyway, when we got to lunch, all of the people I work with started talking about my outfit, and calling me a "guiri" (a slang term for a foreigner, not necessarily derogatory, but also not really a complement) and a "pija" (think "bid") and teasing me for my outfit. I felt a little silly, but no pasa nada! I wasn't going to let that beautiful outfit go to waste on that beautiful day!

 

An Embarrassing Situation

Luckily my sister, who studied abroad in Seville her junior year, prepared me for most of the things that I would encounter, so I didn't have many embarrassing situations. One embarrassing situation was when I was in Cadiz for Carnaval, and my roommate and I started chatting with a Spanish man. We started talking about the kind of music that we liked. As the conversation went on, he asked us if we knew any Spanish artists. We said, of course! And we started listing the ones that we knew. Turns out he meant actually from Spain, not just artists who sing in Spanish. I know a lot of artists who sing in Spanish, but I wasn't really sure where some of them were from. They all turned out to be from various countries in Latin America. The guy started going off on us about how Americans aren't culturally informed and don't know anything about other countries. I felt pretty embarrassed at that moment, even though I consider myself a pretty cultured person.

 

The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

I think I learned the most from Ariadna. She was my professor for the seminar portion of my internship, and I learned a lot from her not only about the workplace in Spain, but even things about relationships, time, language, and other facets of Spanish culture. It was like an internship seminar and anthropology class all rolled into one! Sometimes I think she did it just for me (she always called me "la antropologa," the anthropologist).

 

Housing

I lived in a homestay during my time in Granada, and I 100% recommend it to everyone who has the opportunity. My host mom, Inma, is one of the most adorable, loving people I have ever met. She's really young, only 34, but still acts like such a mom to me and my roommate. She feeds us a huge, delicious lunch every day (or sometimes dinner), does our laundry, makes us tea and soup when we're sick, makes sure we wear plenty of layers whenever we go outside, and always knows how to cheer us up when we've had a particularly rough day. This is pretty standard with host families here. One thing that's really universal is that Spanish madres love to feed you a lot! Get ready to hear the phrase "come más" (eat more) a lot, and don't be surprised if you put on a few pounds!

Student Profile:

Major: Anthropology

Hometown: Pembroke, MA

Program: Granada Abroad

Term Abroad: Spring 2012

View Jessica's blog - Enamorada de Granada

Contact Jessica