Kayla Morel - 2013 Program Participant

Flamenco performance in Granada, Spain

A flamenco performance Kayla was able to see behind the cathedral.

What inspired you to study abroad?

I really wanted the opportunity to travel to a new place. I am native to Redlands, California and decided to attend the local University because it provided me with the most financial assistance. Conveniently, they also have one of the most expansive and supportive study abroad programs. This really brought my vision of seeing the world to fruition.

Why did you choose to study in Granada, Spain?

Originally, I just sought out any place that spoke Spanish. Spain presented the most opportunities to visit other places, but Granada reminded me of home. It is small, quaint, close to the mountains, and near enough to the ocean to feel at home and comforted by the weather and landscape.

What attracted you to IES Abroad’s programs?

IES was the most comprehensible and well developed programs of the ones that I compared. IES Abroad has been operating for a long time and I trusted them to get me where I wanted, on time and in as easy of a way as possible.

Where did you live in Granada? What did you like about you accommodation?

I had the unique opportunity to live in both a homestay and a residence hall. Both have different pros and cons to them. I really enjoyed the personal touch that comes along with living with a host family, as well as the opportunity to learn more about the culture thorough that lived experience. However, living in the residence hall presented me with the opportunity to be much more independent. As such, I got to learn a lot about the place I was living in by exploring different areas.

Cabo de Gata in Spain

Hiking at Cabo de Gata

What was a normal day like as a student in Granada?

I would wake up in the morning, eat a light breakfast, and walk to class. During siesta, I would either go home or find a close place to do homework until classes resumed in the late afternoon. After siesta, I would go back to classes and stay until the evening time. Then, I would work on homework with classmates until late evening and on occasion go to one of the local cafes, pubs, or bars to hang out before heading home.

What is your most memorable travel experience from your time abroad?

The most memorable experience was traveling to Morocco with our IES group. I had such a wonderful experience going to a place that is so often feared. I got to learn a bit of Arabic language as well as some Moroccan traditions.

What was the biggest challenge you faced studying abroad in Spain?

One of the biggest challenges was running into a lot of other Americans. I was really focused on meeting locals and learning the customs, which to a small degree I did by having multiple language exchange partners, but it took time to develop those relationships and it felt like there wasn’t enough time to learn as much as I had wanted.

Why would you jump at the opportunity to return to Granada?

The city is beautiful. I also have great relationships with the people there, and now that I am past the awkward foreigner feeling I think I could enjoy myself a little bit more.

Overlooking La Alhambra from El Mirador de San Nicolas in Spain

Looking  at La Alhambra from El Mirador de San Nicolas.

How studying abroad in Granada affected your life and future?

I talk about all the time. It enhanced my academics by enabling me to see how an education system in a different part of the world works. I have strong relationships with people there and that has created networks for future opportunities.

Would you recommend IES Abroad’s Granada program to others?

Yes, in a heart beat. I loved Granada and everything about it. It is rich in culture and it truly is a gem. There is so much to see and learn. There is always something to do and something to take away.

What is one thing you wish you could change about your program?

The IES Abroad center is a little small, but it has certain charm to it.

What important tip do you have for future study abroad students in Spain?

Always wear comfortable shoes. As much as the local custom is to be fashionable, your comfort is worth so much more than looking exactly like everyone else.

Churros shop in Spain

One of the frequented shops for churros con chocolate.

Did you experience reverse culture shock when you returned home?

Most definitely. Right away I forgot how to say things in English and I really missed having breaks in the middle of the day. I also started to appreciate the small things that I picked up in Spain that were no longer customary in the United States.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I really want to travel to South America. It is another Spanish speaking region, which I love to develop my skills in and I want to compare the Spanish culture with the Latin American culture.

If you had to select another IES Abroad program for your next study abroad trip, which one would you choose?

Costa Rica. It has one of the most interesting governments, having no military, and experiences an interesting challenge to maintain a pacific state of governance with the pressing immigration reform.