Justice Miles - 2014 Program Participant

Cave in the Sacromonte neighborhood in Granada, Spain

Entrance to a cave in the Sacromonte neighborhood of Granada, Spain.

What inspired you to study abroad in Granada, Spain?

I’m super fascinated by flamenco dance. I started flamenco in Denver and my teacher grew up in Granada, so I decided to go study flamenco further in depth in Granada. Andalucía is the province to go for flamenco, and it is an incredible art form. I learned so much in a semester in Granada. I was able to take amazing dance classes, see lots of performances, and IES Abroad helped me find an internship with the Lucía Guarnido dance school. 

What was your housing like in Granada?

I had an amazing host mother. She cooked gluten free meals for me, because I’m gluten intolerant. Every day for lunch (which is the biggest meal of the day in Spain) she would make a three-course meal. It felt like I was eating at a five star restaurant every day! She was an amazing woman and she always helped me with my language or any questions I had. It was very comfortable and it felt like my home.

The statue of the famous flamenco dancer, Mario, in the Albaycin

Posing in the Albaycín with the statue of the famous flamenco dancer, Mario Maya.

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

I would walk to school every day through Calle Recogidas and Calle Reyes Católicos, and there would be many shops, like H&M, Zara, and Sephora, that I would pass. Then I would go to the IES Abroad Center, which had an amazing view of La Alhambra and beautiful tile work on the walls inside. I would take my classes, like Spanish, flamenco, or Islamic architecture in the morning, and then return to my house for lunch at 2 p.m. I would converse with my host mom over lunch and then take a short siesta before going to my afternoon classes. After class, I would go to a dance class and then eat a light dinner at 8 or 9 p.m.

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?

I truly enjoyed the IES field trips to Seville and Morocco. In Seville, we went to an amazing flamenco show and I bought a flamenco dress. On the five-day Morocco trip we got henna, rode camels, went to the hammam, and stayed with host families. Rabat was wonderful because we had a host family for a few days and got to meet students from Rabat and the people were very kind. 

What are the top reasons you'd want to go back to Granada?

I made wonderful friends and really enjoyed the dance community in Granada. I loved the relaxed vibe of the people, the beautiful architecture and landscape, and that everyone walked everywhere. Granada is a healthy city. I would actually love to live there!

How has your experience studying abroad impacted your life?

I actually feel like an adult now and I learned how important language is. Language really opens up doors and at the end of my stay it was so cool that I was able to understand deep conversations with Spaniards. I learned that nothing is ever perfect, but the process and the journey make life interesting. I feel so empowered and less afraid to go out into the world after living in another country.

View of La Alhambra in Granada, Spain

View of La Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Did you experience any kind of reverse culture shock upon re-entry to the U.S.?

Yes, I’m from Denver, Colorado, which is a driving city. Most people drive cars because everything is very spread out. I also noticed all the stores were very large and spacious, and I didn’t see many people walking outside. I really missed the walking city culture of Granada and always seeing people walking outside on the street.