Casey Maher - 2011 Program Participant

Casey is a lover of travel. Having been to over 20 countries and over half of the states, it was no wonder she felt such an urge to study abroad. Studying abroad changed her life forever, and she loves encouraging everyone she knows to go abroad and never stop exploring!

Casey and Her Friends at one of their Favorite Local Cafes in Sevilla.
Casey and Her Friends at one of their Favorite Local Cafes in Sevilla. Photo by Casey Maher

Why did you choose ISA’s program from the hundreds of study abroad program options out there?

I was at a study abroad fair at my University, looking for the best programs for studying Spanish language in Spain. I happened to look across the room and see this very bright and colorful table that said "International Studies Abroad." It pulled me in. The lady working the table (Beth Calvert) was such a sweetheart (she and I eventually ended up working together when I interned for ISA after my semester abroad). She told me all about what ISA has to offer, and gave me recommendations on cities in Spain that would be a good fit for me based on my interests. ISA made me feel right at home from the very start, and I knew from that moment at that study abroad fair that I was going to have an amazing experience with them. 

As a University of Minnesota Alum, what advice would you give to other Minnesota students embarking on a study abroad trip to Granada?

Minnesotans: Get up and celebrate, cause you're going to be heading into much warmer weather. Depending on what time of year you study there, it could be scorching (Summers are usually very very hot!). In the wintertime, it can sometimes get into the 40s and 30s at night, but will probably be in the 50s to 60s in the day. Very tolerable, nice weather. Your friends and family will be jealous, especially if you're missing the Minnesota winter!

What made Granada the perfect city to study abroad in Spain?

Granada is, hands down, one of the most amazing cities in Spain. Like most of Europe, it's very walkable and has lots of parks, museums, and other monuments to go and visit. It's also a great city for those who love the outdoors. The Sierra Nevada mountain range outlines the city, providing many great places to go hiking along the bluffs and experience breathtaking views. On a good day in Granada, you can ski in the mountains and surf on the Mediterranean coast on the same day (both are about an hour drive from the city). The nightlife scene is great, with local bars and clubs hopping almost every night.

Spanish food provides many unique and wonderful flavors to enjoy. A particular favorite amongst locals and international students are tapas (or appetizers). Tapas vary from place to place, but many consist of chorizo (sausage), jamón serrano (similar to prosciutto), and tortilla española (an egg omelette with potatoes). A nice thing about Granada is that when you order a drink at any bar (tinto de verano and sangria are local favorites), you get a free tapa to go along with it. Tapas bar hopping is a fun way to get a great taste of Spain on a budget. Don't forget to check out a flamenco show in the gypsy caves. It's a beautiful and unique experience.

What was your favorite part about studying Spanish in Spain?

I had one class that lasted four hours a day, and alternated teachers between the first and last half. Each month, I would advance to a different level of Spanish. My class was pretty small (on average about 15 of us). I had classmates from all over the world in there with me, including a few from the US. We all grew so close. It was fun being in class with people from different countries and being able to share life experiences with each other (while speaking in Spanish!).

Overall, how big of an impact has studying abroad had on your life?

Studying in Spain changed my life. I gained so much independence living in a city where English was not the first language. Being immersed in another culture and living like a local was so wonderful to experience. I made so many lifelong friends with my classmates and other ISA students, became fluent in Spanish, and got to travel all over the country, to other parts of Europe, and even Morocco! Choosing to study abroad was the greatest decision I made in my college career, and I know that many of my other friends who studied abroad would agree.