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IES Abroad Granada - Study in Granada

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Gracias Granada

I'll never forget my last night in Granada… I bid a bittersweet farewell to some of the Spanish friends I had made during the semester. I knew that our kiss goodbye, left cheek then right, was more of an, “hasta la vista,” than an, “adios.” I slipped out of the cafe trying to hide the tears filling the corners of my eyes, but one splashed onto the black and white tiles of the sidewalk, drenched in the warm afternoon sun. Passing through the streets, scents of exotic spices and teas scented the fresh mountain air. I needed to collect as many sights, sounds, and moments as I could to last me the indefinite future.

Flamenco fans and whole legs of jamón ibérico dangled from shop windows as I passed through the city center. Pictures of celebrities, American presidents, and other famous clients smiled at me from the walls of the famous “Los Italianos,” tempting me to grab one last scoop of gelato on my way. I resisted, but barely. My favorite activity was to count how many pomegranates I could find along my walks. Granada means pomegranate in Spanish and they’re everywhere: on door knockers, bollards, flower pots, and street signs, just waiting to be discovered.

I met up with my American friends in Plaza Nueva, just outside the IES Granada center, and we started up the hillside. We love our way through the narrow, winding streets of the Albayzín, the old medieval quarter of town. No matter how many times I got lost in the maze of white walls and red roofs, I always managed to come around a corner and find ten new paths to be explored. We hiked up and up, passing through and out of the city. The sudden transition between Granada and the surrounding forests, hills and mountains never failed to take me by surprise.

We were now on a dirt path ascending Sacromonte, “the holy mountain.” Our final destination was in our sights: the ancient muralla. This old wall was part of the fortifications built hundreds of years ago to protect the city. Despite its age, it still stands strong, though cracks betray it every few meters. By the time I caught up, two of the boys had already used these cracks to scale the side and were busy helping the rest of us up. We walked up its length, pretending it was just a wide balance beam. Finally, we settled on a good section, pulled out the bottle of red wine we had brought, and sat down to watch the sun set.

As the sun disappeared over the mountains, it lit up the city. Granada sat like a glittering jewel before us. It wasn’t hard to imagine why the Catholic rulers Isabel and Ferdinand coveted it so much during the Inquisition. The Alhambra glowed warmly. You could almost see the Moorish kings looking out of their throne rooms over their kingdom. It baffled me when I first arrived that 2.4 million people visit every year just to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site. After many class field trips to the palace, I could not believe it wasn’t more! An Ernest Hemingway quote came to my mind: “How lazily the sun goes down in Granada, it hides beneath the water, it conceals in the Alhambra.”

As dusk became twilight, we swung our legs over the other side other wall and watched the full moon appear over the Sierra Nevadas. Despite it being late May, snow still cling to the sides of the highest peaks on the Iberian Peninsula, giving weight to their etymology (in Spanish, literally “snowy saw”). The big, yellow disc rose higher and higher in the sky, signaling it was time leave.
We climbed down the backside in the moonlight and wove our way down the valley, passing by wood smoke wafting out of the chimneys of the cave houses. We finally stopped in one of these caves owned by an old gypsy man. These original inhabitants of the caves pioneered the art form of flamenco, filling their music and dance with their souls. He brought us “Alhambra” brand beers from the bar and we watched tourists spill into caves while the sound of tapping shoes and guitars spilled out.

My boyfriend walked me home. We were back in the center of town now. The last month workers had been setting up for the city’s fería, or festival. Every Spanish town has one. For Granada, think less of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls and more dancing in the streets in traditional flamenco dresses. I had forgotten our last night was the first day of the festival. My boyfriend was catching a 3AM bus to the airport so we walked around the streets to pass the time until his departure (3AM is not that late at night on Spanish time…). We were walking through Plaza Bib Rambla when it struck midnight and suddenly all the festival lights that were strung throughout the city turned on. The opening ceremony played on a TV in a restaurant and the sound of Granada’s anthem filled the air.

It was a magical moment and one that made the reality of leaving hit me suddenly. I walked into my apartment and cried on my host mother’s shoulder, telling her how much I was going to miss it all: my friends, my family, my amazing professors and the IES staff, the food, the history, the place I had grown to call home. I left the next morning for a five-week tour around Europe. I couldn’t complain, but at the same time, I knew I had left a little pomegranate shaped piece of my heart in Granada.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

You really need to pass some time in Granada

Where can I begin? The other reviewers have said it many times over: I had one of the greatest experiences of my life in Granada, Spain. It's a city that will surely touch your heart in some way or another, while showing you a great time everyday and night of the week. Four months in this place incredibly, and quickly, began to feel like only a few short minutes. The people, the accent, the history, the sunsets, the food (oh, and free tapas); I loved it all. We had opportunities to travel all around Andalusia with our program during this time, and amazing as they were, I always found myself itching at this feeling that I needed to be back in Granada - nuestra hogar, mi hogar. There is simply nowhere that compares.
The IES Abroad Granada Program Director, Javier, was without a doubt, is exactly the right guy for this job (and frankly, any other job in the world because well, he's amazing). He and the other IES staff will welcome you in with open, Spanish arms and help guide you along your adventure in Granada like a good friend might do. I can name multiple occasions where i've endured some of the most ab-wrenching, tear-inducing laughs ever with Javier. Being in this position for so many years, he not only knows what he's doing, but he also has some flat out hilarious stories to recount about past programs and mishaps.
Some more noteworthy cositas about Granada and the program:
- FREE Tapas (did I already say that? Yeah, free. tapas.); with purchase of a drink in any Granadino spot.
- Hiking the Sierra Nevadas; hop on a bus from the city center and be at a trailhead in under 1 hour.
- Skiing the Sierra Nevadas; again, just hop on a bus.
- Veg Options in Abundance; if you're a vegetarian or vegan (which I am), you will be happy to find out that there are multiple restaurants and shops in Granada that are entirely vegan... and delicious. I lived one block away from an adorable vegan cafe/restaurant where I became a loyal regular.
- Young People; with about 80,000 students at the University of Granada, there are young Spaniards, expats, and exchange students all over the city.
- Wide Course and Activity Options; since the IES Abroad Center in Granada is partnered with the University of Granada, you have the option to participate in classes and activities there as well.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

No Pasa Nada, IES Granada

For many, the idea of studying abroad can seem extremely intimidating and frightening. To be honest, at first it can be exactly like this. However, making and following through with my decision to study abroad in Granada, Spain was one of the bravest and best decisions I've ever made. Like any other novice to traveling, I was originally frightened of going abroad but I'm so glad I remained focused and pushed myself to new heights. The staff and members of Granada were all very helpful and attentive to students needs, wishes, and desires. They each contributed to achieving academic, intellectual, and artistic goals while constantly scheduling entertaining and culturally stimulating events throughout the semester. Classes tied cultures with Spain with those crossed over into Africa and allowed students to truly understand the history behind the architecture in Granada that spread to many other countries and cultures.
There are many extracurricular activities available for students to involve themselves in and to allow them to integrate themselves into the culture of the city and the community. The overall environment was extremely safe and another one of my favorite parts of being in Spain was being given an intercambio whom I'm close with to this day and view as an integral part of the intercultural exchange I experienced.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A life changing semester in Granada

Before I started my semester in Granada, I had no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, I could tell by the the excitement of the staff I had met so far that I was going to have a great experience. On the first day in Spain, we underwent a very well thought out orientation program which ensured our basic cultural competency before going into our homestay. The hotel accommodations were ideal and I am still friends with my hotel roommate to this day. During the Spring semester, all students had a week long break during which most decided to travel. We had organized field trips for some of the classes and the staff almost always spoke to us only in Spanish to ensure our engagement in the language from the very first day. Javier Martinez de Velasco, the Director and the staff organized a week long trip to Morocco and a weekend long trip to Cabo de Gata. These two are just examples of the many extracurricular activities we could partake in whether mandatory or optional.
If I could go back into the past and choose a study abroad program all over again, I would IES Abroad Granada in a heartbeat. My only regret is not being to live there longer.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Falling for Granada

I didn't realize that I would miss Granada, Spain as much as I do. This is one city that I will definitely return to one day soon. There is something about this little city in Andalucia (Andalusia), the southern region of Spain, that evokes a strong sense of nostalgia. It has been almost three months since I departed from Granada, yet I constantly think about my short time there. I felt a degree of liberty, safety, comfort, and ease on my daily walks up and down Calle Recogidas, one of Granada's central and busiest streets, that not every city can provide. This city like so many others has a culture of its own that in certain ways cannot be matched by any other. Its history is seen in its architecture and its spirit is seen in its people.

Over the past few months I have realized that I have fallen for Granada. I continue to be fascinated by its history (it is a city that has seen the rise and fall of Islamic empires, and a Spanish dictator) and amused by its intricacies ( random holidays that call for spending long hours in the streets drinking cerveza with friends or watching processions for saints). IES Granada is in part responsible for my falling for Granada. IES staff pushed me to get out, see, and explore Granada in depth. My anthropology class allowed me to investigate gentrification in the Albaicin, a section of the city that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and my Islamic art history course extended my appreciation and admiration of La Alhambra ( one of the most beautiful and fully intact castles in all of Andalusia).

Granada is a city that is loved and has been loved by so many. There's something that must be said for a city that has taken the hearts of many for more than 400 years. Granada is special, and if you take the time to truly to get know it, which means talking to people in the city and learning about why things are the way they are, you may just fall in love. But then again, if your not the type looking for love...Granada is also the perfect place for a one-semester stand ;) ...

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

I miss Granada

While abroad in Granada I knew it was a great experience, but once back in the US I really realized how special Granada is and how lucky I was to get to study abroad through IES. Granada is a city that's full of complex history, amazing architecture, life in the streets, and its easily navigable by walking. IES abroad staff was good at orienting us to the new abroad life and was eager to make sure we engaged with our host families, university professors, and any other extracurriculars. The program "field trips," especially the one to Morocco, were definitely highlights of my time abroad. Personally as a medieval history major, I loved being a city that's so rich in its medieval history of over 700 years of interaction between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. But in the program there were sociology, econ, Spanish, and lots of other majors as well. Basically Granada IES, 10/10 would recommend.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

El sueño granadino

I have always been passionate about Spanish, and knew I wanted to have an experience that would give me full linguistic immersion in a Spanish-speaking country. I had previously traveled in Latin America, so I thought I’d experience a new culture by studying abroad in Spain. But Granada exceeded my wildest dreams for a study-abroad experience! Granada is truly the perfect city for study-abroad: it’s small enough to feel intimate, yet large enough to have never-ending concerts, bars, and cultural activities. With about 70,000 students at the University of Granada, it truly is a college town with a youthful, active vibe. But despite its youthfulness, Granada has centuries of rich cultural and artistic history –from the Islamic empire to “Los Reyes Catolicos.” That being said, Granada makes for the perfect experiential classroom –with IES, I took a class on Islamic Art and Architecture where class consisted of weekly visits to the Alhambra. Not to mention –Granada is so affordable! 2 Euro wine with a free hamburger tapa included have forever spoiled me for American prices.
IES does a great job coordinating all aspects of the program and catering it to your specific needs/goals. I wanted to fully immerse myself in Spanish, so IES helped me register in classes at the University of Granada, in addition to my all-Spanish IES courses. The Program Director, Javier, is incredibly dynamic and genuinely cares about giving each student the best-possible study-abroad experience. The IES staff helps immensely with cultural immersion: they connected me with a local hiking club as well as sending out weekly agendas with local cultural activities. IES also coordinated fun and educational (and free!) weekend trips to sites of interest, like Sevilla, Ronda, Cordoba, and Cabo de Gata.
IES placed me with a host family, which was one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of my experience! My host mother had hosted IES students for several years, and was extremely knowledgeable and accommodating. She also helped me greatly with my Spanish –we would have “sobremesas” or post-meal chats that would stretch on for hours. She called me her “niña” and insisted on celebrating my birthday as if I were her own daughter. We still keep in touch over email and Skype, and she sends me photo updates of her adorable new grandson.
Overall, I feel that studying abroad was the best possible thing I could have done at this stage of my life. Immersing myself in another culture gave me new perspective on my own culture and daily life. I definitely became more open-minded, flexible, and independent because of this experience. I also learned to slow down from the fast-paced American lifestyle, appreciate all the wonderful people in my life, and when something doesn’t go according to plan, just shrug it off with a “no pasa nada” (the Granadino catchphrase).

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

IES Granada, Fall 2015: Five splendid months

My decision to study abroad in Granada with IES Abroad was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My five months in Granada had a profound impact on my sense of self; since returning, I am more confident, comfortable, and excited about my future. I would recommend the program without hesitation. There are three primary reasons - along with a whole slew of secondary ones - that I say this.

The first is the IES Granada program. The staff at IES Granada is engaged, compassionate, and experienced, and they do a tremendous job with integration into the city. I can't stress enough how important the program staff is. Javier, the director, does everything in his power to provide you with whatever opportunity you're interested in, and the rest of the staff make it happen.

The second reason that I unequivocally recommend the IES Granada program is Granada itself. You'll fall in love with the city! It's cheap (free tapas) because it's a young city, a city of students. The University of Granada plays a big role in its character, which makes the night life fantastic as well. The people are the best part, though. Andalucians in general are nicer than their northern counterparts, and life is more slow-paced. People take the siesta; no one seems to be in a hurry. I visited all the big cities in Spain, and I have to say, Granada is definitely the most beautiful! Even people from from Barcelona and Madrid will tell you the same.

The final reason that I give the IES Granada program ten stars is the amount of cultural assimilation that the program facilitates. For homestays, the program works with nice families in good homes. I lived in a third floor apartment about twenty minutes from the IES center in a residential part of the city. My host mother was proud to share wonderful food with me, and I never found myself hungry. Not only that, but my host family was committed to helping me connect with Andalucian culture; they brought me to concerts, introduced me to their extended family, and taught me a great deal of colloquial spanish. I will never forget them.

I had such a good time in Granada that time seemed elastic. Five months passed in what seemed like five days. Reflecting on the experience now, I realize that I wouldn't have had it any other way. If you're thinking about studying with IES Abroad in Granada, do it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

New city, New adventure

Studying abroad in Granada was an incredible growth experience for me. It was a semester full of fun and excitement. I loved the size of Granada because I felt like I actually knew the city. The city has beautiful architecture and views and a rich history. I learned about a new culture and met incredible people. At the abroad center I was able to take interesting classes that I would not have been able to take back in the United States. For example I took Islamic architecture and flamenco. The staff at IES were also incredibly helpful and supportive. The orientation and weekly activities planned by the center really helped me adjust to being in a new place and become close with other students in the program. Living with a local family also helped me further understand the language and the culture. On a daily basis I loved exploring new parts of the city, eating tapas with friends, and seeing people dance and play music along the streets. I had an amazing time and hope I can return to Granada soon.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

No Pasa Nada

IES Abroad Granada truly is the perfect study abroad program. Initially, when I chose Granada, I only thought of it as a small city in Southern Spain. I didn’t know anything about the local culture, the rich history that every inch of the city holds, or the Alhambra. I had never used the words “siesta”, “tapa”, “tinto de verano” or “no pasa nada” (all of which a local uses at least 5 times a day). The laid back, easy-going way of life makes it very easy to fall in love with the city. Granada truly is the perfect city for all study abroad students looking to jump outside their comfort zones and experience the Spanish culture as a native. The IES staff helped facilitate this cultural learning in a variety of ways. They offered countless workshops (flamenco dancing, leather-making, yoga, wine tasting, olive oil tasting…to just name a few) to submerse us into the culture. They provided us with the opportunity to make relationships with local college students through an intercambio (exchange) program at the local university. The best part is that each student was able to form lasting relationships with the professors and staff. Each day was a new learning adventure while I was there: whether it was learning a new Spanish word with my host mom at lunch, finding a new tapas restaurant with friends, exploring a portion of the Alhambra, watching flamenco performances on the street or wandering aimlessly around the city. My study abroad experience in Granada provided me with countless life lessons that I could not have possibly learned in a classroom. My 4 months in Granada gave me some time to step back, relax and reflect on my life. I would strongly encourage anyone to look into this program, because it truly changed my life. Granada no longer is a small city in Southern Spain, Granada is home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Granada, Enamorada

This program was incredible. Absolutely the perfect fit for me. I can't imagine a scenario in which someone on this program would not have the time of their life. Granada is such a dynamic location with so much to offer, and the staff at IES helped us squeeze every drop of life out of this city, satisfying our thirst for adventure and new cultural experiences. There is something to offer for everyone, and the city is just small enough that walking can get you to most places without a problem. The Alhambra makes the city worth it in and of itself, but this stunning palace is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Granada's offerings. Exploring the hiking trails around the city, venturing up into the hippy caves of Sacramonte for a bonfire with friends, traversing the narrow streets of the Albaicin all the way up to el mirador San Nicolas, playing soccer and basketball, meeting new friends, going out for tapas, then more tapas, and then the clubs, relaxing and painting in Federico Garcia Lorca park, and so much more. If you don't fall in love with this place, you have a very cold heart. The relaxed lifestyle of southern Spain and their go-to "No pasa nada" was certainly an adjustment, but learning to accept and navigate a new culture made me into a better person, without a doubt. As someone who has always put a lot of work into my studies, this semester was a very different experience academically. I learned more than I ever thought possible, and most of this learning occurred outside of the traditional classroom setting. The wonders of Granada, or any place for that matter, cannot be captured in a classroom. They must be experienced. This program allowed me to do just that. I experienced a whole new lifestyle and met countless amazing people.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

An Exceptional Experience

The IES Granada program provided an exceptional study abroad experience. This program helped me become immersed in Spanish culture and learn about Spain first-hand. I was able to learn about the extensive history of Granada and feel like a true "granadino". I will never forget my experience in Granada, and I'm thankful IES helped to make it truly exceptional!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Pick Me!

My four months in Granada were some of the best months of my life and not for all the reasons you would expect. Of course Granada made it rather easy for me to become part of a new culture, not merely understand it, learn a new language, not solely speak it but love it, make new friends but also keep the bonds that bound. I loved coming home everyday at 2:30 to eat lunch with my host family. Yes, you do eat things like paella and salads always with corn and tuna but I also simply loved watching the different way my host mom cut an orange or picking out the words I didn't know in a long stream of her Spanish. I loved silly things like using Whatsapp and my long walk to school, trying a different way everyday. I loved getting lost in the mountains behind the old Arabic quarter of the city but never feeling lonely because of the Alhambra watching me. The IES Granada program gave me the tools to explore on my own, speak a beautiful new language in order to ask for directions when I got too lost and then even understand the history of the streets I was discovering. One of the best surprises of studying in Granada was not solely the free tapa with a drink but the way it facilitates conversations and mistakes in language and then correction, it facilitates the Spanish culture and a passion to share. The IES school is located in a mesmerizing part of the city, you will never leave the terrace once the sun is out but you will never want to leave the city once you study with IES Granada.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Me encanta todo

I feel so lucky to have been able to study abroad in Granada. Aside from it being absolutely beautiful and vibrant, it was the greatest learning experience I have ever had. Being thrown into an entirely new culture with a distinct language and customs helped me learn to take risks and jump into things headfirst. I was able to improve my language skills, live with a wonderful Spanish family, meet new friends and soak up all of the music, culture and tapas that Spain had to offer. I cannot recommend IES, Granada and Spain enough. It was truly the best decision I could have made and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Ya un amor sincero

I am in love with Granada, and I am so grateful to have been able to spend four months getting to know the city and its people. Life in Granada is lived in the streets, and there is always something to do and someone excited to do it. And Granada is the perfect place for anyone who wants to become more self-confident and independent. It's easy to navigate, it's completely safe and people are happy to help you out. IES was with us the entire way—any time I had a question or needed advice or a pep talk, the IES Granada staff had my back. And my host mom is one of the most generous people I've ever met. I am still in contact with her and her family. As clichéd as it sounds, studying in Granada was truly a life-changing experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

How I became 'Granadina'

I know that it is very common to hear "best time of my life" associated with one's travels, and although these are often exaggerated statements that result from the excitement and novelty of what one has just experienced, I would be lying if I said otherwise. My 4 months in Granada with IES abroad were truly the best four months of my life, in every sense of the word. The friends that I made in my program became some of my closest friends, and I still keep in touch with them daily.
I was able to live with a host family, with two young and very nice parents, a 9 year old boy and a 3-month old girl whom I loved as I love my real brother at home. I would always look forward to going home for lunch where I could enjoy a few hours of delicious and plentiful meals and the company of my 'family'. On the weekends that I didn't travel around Europe, I would play games with my 'brother'... It is so unbelievably lucky to be able to live with a family for four months and be able to call it your own.
My classes in Granada were great as well. 4 out of 5 of them were in Spanish, which not only allowed me to have a completely different educational experience, but also to greatly improve my language skills. The classes at IES were small and many were discussion-based, making it a fun and interesting environment to learn in. I also took a class at the University of Granada, where I was exposed to many Spanish and Erasmus students, and got to try out the 'Spanish' education system... although it is extremely different than what I am used to in the US (less structure to the class) I loved going twice a week and drinking my coffee outside overlooking Granada with my friends, before going to class.
IES was extremely helpful in all situations and I could not imagine having had a better time on another program. Indeed, IES staff was always there to lend a helping hand, whether you were sick or looking for something to do in the city. The staff and 'orientadores' planned many activities every week, that included everything from shows, dance classes, and hikes to wine and olive oil tasting. The 'orientadores' are Spanish university students who work for IES -- their presence in my life was incredible, I did many things with them every week, and some of them became my best friends in Granada. The program also had some of the best and most mind-blowing trips, including a weekend to Cabo de Gata -- a 'deserty' beach region, and 5 days in Morocco, in which we had the insane opportunity to live with Moroccan families.
Every day, I would go to my language class, then go out with my friends for 'tostadas (bread, tomato, olive oil and salt), cafe con leche, and fresh zumo de naranja. I would then go to my next class before going home for lunch, the biggest meal of the day. The food in my homestay was always delicious, and the quantities unbelievable ... but I was always able to finish my plate(s). This would be followed by a necessary siesta, which is the common thing to do in Spain before going to my evening class that ended at 8 (which didn't feel late at all, given that lunch was eaten around 3pm). After class, I would often go exploring the small streets of Granada, go shopping, and we would often end up at one of the miradors (viewing points), staring out to the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains that extended out behind it, while sipping on some tinto de verano. When the sun would set, we would go get tapas, where we could sit for hours just eating, drinking wine, talking, and enjoying life. Overall, Granada was incredible: the city was so beautiful, from the modern avenues lined with shops, the Arabic neighborhood that made you feel like you had been transported to a different continent, or the Jewish neighborhood where I lived that was covered in beautiful painted graffiti, to the flamenco and gypsy-filled hills of the Sacromonte. Everyone was so nice, so laid-back and so much fun to be around ... I couldn't have asked for a better semester.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Granadina

The previous four months while studying abroad in Granada, Spain, I was lucky enough to experience one of the best semesters of my life. Not only did I get to live in a new country, but I found myself easily immersing myself into the new culture and absorbing all I could each and every day. With an incredibly supportive host family, I personally found the adjustment phase the first few weeks simple. While my Spanish may have lacked in fluency and confidence in the beginning, my understanding family in addition to the reassuring IES teachers, staff, and classmates made transitioning painless and I never once felt overwhelmed or fearful of this new place I would be living in for almost half a year. Once I became completely comfortable and no longer unsure of my surroundings in this new city, I was able to realize the amazing opportunity I had. With every walk to class, each new tapas adventure, and the interesting spontaneous conversations with welcoming Spaniards, I recognized I wouldn’t be in this incredible situation without the help of IES and I came to love this new city I now am lucky enough to call home. It will always be a special place holding some of my fondest memories and I will forever be a Granadina en mi corazón!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Time of my Life

I had the privilege of studying in Granada, Spain last semester and it was incredible! I would recommend this IES program to any student looking to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. I would argue that Granada is one of the most ideal places to study abroad. For me, the size of the city is ideal as it is not as large as a place like Madrid, but big enough for you never to get bored. The people there are all so friendly and welcoming as well, and there is also a large population of students. And don’t forget the free tapas! This provided for a unique and fun social culture, and allows you to stay on a college student’s budget. Without a doubt, I fell in love with the city and it will always have a special place in my heart. I can definitely say it was the time of my life. The IES staff were a crucial factor in making my experience what it was as well. They fostered an environment that allowed me to grow and learn in and outside of the classroom. There are a variety of classes to choose from and many allowed me to gain a thorough understanding of the culture and history of Granada. They also plan a lot of exciting field trips both in and around Spain, which were all so memorable. I will be forever grateful for IES, as I don’t think I would have had the experience I did without them.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Ya te extraño, Granada.

I would wholeheartedly recommend IES Granada to anyone even remotely considering studying abroad. The program is very focused on meeting its students' requests and providing the best experience possible. To outline a few instances....
*As I had signed up to stay with a host family, I was paired with a host mother and host sister that live in an apartment ten minutes away from the IES building.
*I didn't do very well on the written portion of my Spanish language entry exam, but the staff was very responsive in making sure I was placed in a class that reflected my true level of Spanish speaking/writing/listening.
*One night I returned home around midnight after having had a tiny hiking accident. Once my mom noticed my scratched face and crippled gait, she called the program staff member on duty that night and asked her to escort me to the hospital. Within fifteen minutes, she was at our doorstep to help me down the stairs into the taxi. She waited with me for about an hour until the doctors were finished with my MRI, then she brought me home. It was so nice to have her with me--I'm so glad I didn't have to deal with that hospital visit on my own.

One of the more annoying parts about returning to school has been that some people want me to condense my entire experience abroad to a thirty second conversation. I simply can't do that. I treat those people to some friendly chatter, smile a bit, then wrap it up by saying something like, "Yeah, definitely a pretty cool experience!" But then there are others that want to hear more. I've found some people who've travelled, or studied abroad themselves, or are considering studying abroad in the future, that earnestly want to hear about my Argentine host mother who devoted nearly all of our two hour sobremesas to converting me to Catholicism.....and how I took an Islamic Art and Architecture course that offered four guided visits to the Alhambra and one to the Great Mosque of Cordoba, both of which (I remain steadfast) stand as two of the most beautiful pieces of architectural mastery one can ever hope to see.....and that I got hitched with a group of musicians from my program, and that we jammed with locals in the Andalusian courtyards as the sounds and heat of Granada's nightlife pulsed around us....and how we became buddies with the owner of an adorable hole-in-the-wall crepe shop called La Creperie, and how his rotund, cheery face and bulgy French belly always welcomed us with free crepes and delicious imported beer. I've talked to some friends that have even given me enough time to explain that I missed the morning bus for our trip to Morocco and, with the periodic help of the IES staff, managed to find my way to Tangier alone.
Now that I'm "home," I can't help but tear up as I think about my host mom, tapas, Javier (the IES program director), La Qarmita (a friendly cafe in town with a very personal waiting staff), the view of La Alhambra from El Mirador de San Nicolas, hiking in Las Alpujarras, and my friends and how we spent three and a half beautiful months actually living a dream.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The best four months of my life

My semester in Granada, Spain was the time of my life. IES Abroad offered amazing classes, including one called Islamic Art and Architecture, which was one of my favorite classes that I've ever taken. I was placed in a great homestay with really good food and the most welcoming and friendly senora. Granada is a beautiful city and IES provided us with so many opportunities to explore the city and beyond, from class field trips to program field trips to wine tasting. I wouldn't study abroad with any other program!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Lots of pomegranates

Granada was the perfect place to study abroad. The city is just big enough that there is always something to do, but I was never overwhelmed by its size. There are of course a few touristy spots, but not so many that people automatically start talking to you in English. Along with my Spanish classes of course, I feel that simply living in Granada significantly helped my Spanish skills. The IES program staff and professors were all truly wonderful -- I am hoping to stay in touch with them for many years to come. My host family was the perfect fit. My "mama española" cooked us amazing meals and even taught us how to make a few! She was always there to talk (and correct our Spanish) or simply just spend time with us. Some of my favorite moments from the semester were our afternoon teas, sitting and chatting for sometimes hours during the daily siesta time. I wholeheartedly recommend this program to anyone looking to have one of the best semesters they could possibly imagine!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Granada siempre estaré parte de mi corazón (Granada will always be part of my heart)

I could not have expected a better study abroad program. Granada is the perfect city for a student wanting to experience Spanish culture, interact with the people, and learn the language. It isn't too big, like Barcelona or Madrid, so most people do not speak English and you can practice your Spanish and it is also not too small so there is lots to do. My homestay was beyond fantastic, I lived in a small house with the best Spanish mama I could have ever asked for, she was a wonderful cook, watched lots of movies with me, and was so friendly and comforting whenever I was feeling homesick. When I wasn’t at home eating delicious paella and migas I was at IES. The IES ‘school’ is a beautiful old building with marble floors and a picturesque terrace on the top floor. The staff is so friendly, helpful, and really works to plan activities and trips that the students enjoy. All of the professors are very passionate about their jobs and the classes were interesting and fun. I found I could focus more on exploring Granada than slaving over hours of homework every night like at my home university, which, I really appreciated. Included in the program are several day trips around the Andalucía area and a five day trip to Morocco. If you are looking for an exceptional study abroad program that is friendly, well organized, and planned to give you one of the best experiences of your life, this is the program for you.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

IES and flamenco in Granada

This was an amazing experience. I felt safe, cared for, and had tons of support. My host mother cooked amazing food and helped me with anything I needed. The city of Granada is a wonderful walking city with an amazing view of La Alhambra and the pearly neighborhood of the Albaycín. I came to Granada to study Spanish and flamenco. IES connected me with an amazing internship with a flamenco dance school and I was able to take dance classes within the community of Granada. Granada now feels like a home to me and it was a life changing experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Part of My Heart is in Granada

Studying abroad in Granada, Spain with IES was a phenomenal, life changing, eye opening, opportunity providing experience that causes you to grow into a better, independent, more aware, and educated citizen of this world we live in. This is what my life reflects now that I have returned home. My time in Granada provided me with a variety of experiences - learning how to make travel plans, communicating solely in Spanish, using public transportation, meeting people from all over the world, and more - that enriched my life.

Granada is home to La Alhambra, el Sacromonte, el Albaizin, amazing Spanish people, beautiful vistas, extraordinary food, marvelous music, and vivacious life. IES Granada supported my interests in the Spanish language, had weekend trips all over southern Spain, provided an amazing host family, and the staff was there for me throughout my entire experience. The staff truly cares about each individual on the program and is there to be a resource and support you in any way necessary.

The program is also tailored to the group of individuals who come and their interests. There were many hiking trips organized during my program because that was something my group was passionate about. The hiking was phenomenal! There were also different workshops available for students including a cooking workshop and a leather workshop. They were both very fun and didn't cost any extra money!

My experience in Granada was phenomenal and I strongly recommend studying abroad with IES.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Just do it.

Granada is a wonderful city to study abroad in, because it is a university city. This means that there are a bunch of other young students, from all over the world. It is still small enough however, that you won't get swallowed up as in the large metropolises.
Granada has an incredible history: it was the last Muslim stronghold in Spain. IES classes do a really good job of incorporating the history in our classes through direct field trips around the city.
Granada is a city that is overflowing with art. There are so many different types of art (but especially music and performances) and so many opportunities to become a part Granada's art.