Growing up I always dreamed about traveling the world but never did I expect to have the opportunity to live in a foreign country for 4 months and earn college credits. Last semester I studied abroad in Granada, Spain which is located in the southern region of Spain, commonly referred to as the Andalucía region.
In Spain, I lived with a host family where I was given my own room, bathroom, and 3 daily meals and expected to speak only Spanish to the family. At first, I was a little nervous about how living in a foreign country was going to be even though I am fluent in Spanish from growing up in a Mexican-American household, I was so nervous. But as I adjusted to my daily schedule and my fluency in conversational Spanish started to flourish I became more comfortable living in Spain and using my Spanish to explore the city.
While abroad I was able to take intensive Spanish Grammar classes that allowed me to learn the rules of Spanish that I had forgotten, but also learn things about the language that I was never taught. I also took a Spanish Cinema class that analyzed the Spaniard cinema throughout the decades, specifically seeing how the entertainment and movies were different during the Spanish civil war, the Franco rule, and after Franco’s passing in the late 70s. Other classes that I took consisted of Islamic culture classes that looked at the Arabic influence in Spain and lastly, I took a Spanish culture class. In the Spaniard culture class, I was able to learn more about the Spaniard culture and its customs, but I was also taught about the various cities in Spain I was traveling to before going on the trips. We learned about famous museums like the Museo the Prado which housed famous paintings like the original drafts of the Mona Lisa and paintings by Francisco Goya.
We learned about the famous bullfighting arenas and the origins of the fights, but most of all one of my favorite lessons was the wine, bread, and olive oil tasting lesson. In the lesson, we compared the different qualities of bread, virgin vs extra virgin olive oil, what to look for when picking a nice cooking oil and the wine making process followed by a trip to a winery. At the winery I was able to see the full wine making process and sample some local Spaniard wine along with tapas.
After year of studying Spanish it was interesting to actually visit all the famous places I had studied so intensely in my textbooks. Along with learning so much during my time in Spain, I also had the opportunity to travel throughout my stay. On 3 day weekends or small breaks throughout the semester for Spanish holidays I was able to visit places like Barcelona and see the Sagrada Familia , London to visit Buckingham Palace, Italy to visit Vatican city and France to see the Eiffel Tower and visit Leonardo da Vinci’s, Mona Lisa. Given it was my first time being in Eurpoe I made sure to take full advantage of the promixity to other eurpoean countries and traveled whenever I had a chance.
Although my time in Spain had to come to a close the memories, sites I saw and friendships I made will always be something I will never forget and will cherish forever. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I recommend to any and everyone, as it was a semester that changed my life forever reminding me why bilingual education is so important. Additonally, my semester abroad enriched my knowledge of Spanish to hopefully further my education to work in a bilingual school setting in the future.