Mary Rose Moss - 2013 Program Participant
A fountain in a garden in Granada
What attracted you to study abroad?
I knew I wanted to study abroad, because I have always wanted to travel to new places. I really enjoy learning about history and culture of different places, and to do so while in that place is really special.
Why did you choose ISA in Spain?
I chose to go to Spain because I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking skills, and I wanted to have the opportunity to travel in Europe. More specifically, I had heard that Granada was a really beautiful city and I had learned about its unique history as the last Muslim stronghold in Spain. My university is affiliated with ISA's program in Granada, so it was an easy decision for me.
What was your favorite part about Granada?
There are so many great things about Granada, it's hard to pick one favorite part! One of my favorites was the food. My host parents prepared all my meals for me, so it was nice not to have to worry about that. They taught me a lot about what foods are typical of which parts of Spain. I also went out for tapas or churros con chocolate with my friends, which was fun. In Granada, when you order a drink, you get a tapa (a small plate of food to eat) for free. In other cities, tapas cost a couple euros.
Another favorite part was the landscape. I'm from the Midwest, so I've never been in the mountains before, but I sure got used to being able to see mountains in the distance on my way home from class. It just makes your whole day better. We also went hiking in the mountains a few times, which I enjoyed so much.
A third great thing about living in Granada was the fact that I could walk everywhere I wanted to go. The city is small enough that nothing is too far away, yet big enough that everything you want to do is right there. It also hardly ever rained, so I could count on being able to walk wherever I wanted to go. Not relying on cars or public transit gave me a sense of independence, and just walking around was a really fun way to explore and discover new things in the city.
What makes ISA’s Granada program unique?
ISA set up some great trips for our group, which I really enjoyed. At the beginning of our program we went to Madrid and Toledo, and later on we spent a weekend in Sevilla and Cordoba. We also had several day trips and other activities and excursions. These trips were really good because we got to stay in nice hotels, explore a completely new city on our own, and they provided tours for us as well.
How did local ISA staff support you throughout your program?
The ISA office in Granada was a great place to go to ask questions, use the computer lab, and read all the resources they had available about traveling, Granada, and international studies in general. The ISA staff was helpful to me when I was trying to figure out my schedule and needed to make some last minute changes. Thanks to them, I was able to take the classes that I was most interested in. They always encouraged us to practice our Spanish with them, but they were always willing to use English if we wanted to ensure that important details were understood; this was true with office visits as well as excursions. Our tours tended to be in an easy-to-understand Spanish, with some English if needed for clarification.
What do you wish you would have done differently during your time abroad?
I wish I had spent more time out doing things, and less time in my room on my computer. Sometimes if I didn't have set plans, it was hard to make myself get out on my own and explore, but when I did do that, I saw the coolest things and had the most fun.
What was a typical day like for you as a student in Granada?
During the week, I had class in the morning. I would usually grab a magdalena (a little cake) or a piece of fruit to eat for breakfast. After my first couple classes I walked back home for lunch and siesta. Then I walked back to school for my afternoon class. When I got out of class, I had some time to take a walk and explore. There were a couple neighborhoods in Granada I liked to visit a lot, such as near the Cathedral and near the botanic garden. I started going to daily Mass at some of the different churches. It was nice to have a scheduled thing to do and a destination to walk, and the architecture and the Masses were really beautiful.
Sometimes in the evenings I would go out for tapas with friends and practice Spanish. On Thursdays I went to a theater group, which was a lot of fun. My host parents left dinner out for me and my roommate at around 8:30 p.m., so we could eat it whenever was convenient for us.
Hiking in Monachil, just outside the city of Granada
What was your favorite thing to do on your free time?
My favorite activity was hiking in the mountains. ISA took us on a couple hiking trips to Monachil and one in Las Alpujarras. It was so much fun for me, and the views were indescribably beautiful. It made me want to try hiking more in the United States and anywhere else I can travel to, as well.
Tell us more about your accommodation in Granada.
ISA set me up with a home stay, which meant that I lived with host parents in their apartment, and another student from my program. We each had our own room, which was nice. ISA paired us up with our host mom because we are all vegetarian, so that was really convenient (Spain is pretty big on eating meat, especially ham, so I'm glad I had a host mom who knew how to cook a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes). We all got along together really well too, and even stay in touch through Facebook now.
How did studying abroad change your perspectives and your future plans?
Spending a semester in Spain helped me realize how big the world is, and how exciting it is to get a taste of a different part of it. There are so many different ways to experience a new place. I know I want to travel a lot more in the future. I want to explore new places and visit some of the places that I called home for four months.