This past weekend my program cohort and I took a trip to the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, only a 15 minute walk away from my host family’s home! The Alhambra is rich in history and immensely beautiful. On a rocky hill, on the banks of the River Darro, protected by the mountains and surrounded by woods, the Alhambra rises up like an imposing castle with reddish tones; the Alhambra is visible throughout Granada due to its unique location. Throughout our visit, the tour guide provided interesting information about its creation and its current state. One of the most interesting aspects I observed were the different types of architectures and art and the influence that different cultures had over them. For example, the tour guide mentioned that the newer side of the Alhambra, the architecture from the outside was complex, in contrast to the older side which had a simpler design. This is because the muslim leaders planned and executed the older side, and a simple outside but an intricate inside is prominent in Muslim culture. This is interesting to see because it provides an opportunity to reflect on my own culture, as well as the other cultures, since it reminds me how every little characteristic of a culture has a meaning and an origin, which is something that is commonly overlooked by others.
With regards to my Spanish progress, I have improved immensely. Although the Spanish differs a bit from the Latin American Spanish I know best, this experience has been incredibly beneficial thus far. In the United States, I tend to alternate to English whenever I have trouble saying something in Spanish; however, since this is not an option in Granada, I feel compelled to find the solutions to the problems I have, which results in many minuscule learning experiences. Therefore, my Spanish vocabulary has expanded exponentially since my arrival. Moreover, the inability to alternate languages created my worry regarding the change of language in the classroom. With five courses, all in Spanish, I felt worried that I would freeze while I spoke. My experiences in the classroom thus far, however, have been incredibly beneficial because it challenges me to think more about what I am about to say and or write. This challenge is an opportunity for progress, progress that is evident as I have gained more confidence in speaking Spanish in class.
Lastly, I want to include a picture of some of the great friends I have made in Spain so far. It has been great having a tight-knit group of friends while abroad; I am grateful for having others I can rely on. With the inevitability of homesickness for all study abroad students, being able to express myself with those around me has enhanced this experience.