Noelle Rosellini - 2015 Program Participant

A view of San Miguel Alto in Spain

Friends and a view in San Miguel Alto

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Before studying abroad, I had never been out of the country. There were so many things that I had never seen or experienced and I wanted to change that. Also, I really enjoy learning about new cultures and stepping out of my comfort zone. For these reasons, an international program really appealed to me.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Granada?

I am a Spanish minor so studying in Spain was important to me. I was looking to improve my language skills and I was really excited to be able to use what I had learned in the real world and not just in a classroom setting. I didn't really know that much about Granada going into it. I had heard that it was big enough that there was always something to do, but small enough that it was navigable, and that everyone still mainly spoke Spanish. Some of the larger cities are very English-heavy due to tourism; this can be great, but can be a hindrance when trying to practice the native language. On top of that, the mix of cultures in Granada is amazing and the whole city is beautiful.

What was your favorite part about Granada?

Granada is gorgeous and incredibly lively. All of the different neighborhoods are very distinct and the views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada are surreal.

Riding a camel in Morocco

Riding a camel in Morocco

What made your program unique from other study abroad programs in Spain?

From what I understand, it's a lot smaller than many of the other programs in Spain. There were 80 students in IES Abroad while I was there, and I think that gave it a very close-knit feeling, which I loved.

How did local staff support you during your time in Granada?

The staff helped with everything from academic questions to directions to recommendations for a good tapas bar. They were always trying to help us make the most of our time in Granada, and they're a caring, funny, and smart group of people.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have realized how quickly time was going to pass. I'm not sure if this realization would have helped me in any way, but the program flies by and the ending hits you pretty hard.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Wake up and eat breakfast with my host mom, Maria. Breakfast consists of coffee, orange juice, toast, and a rotating "main" dish (sometimes eggs, sometimes chorizo, sometimes avocado toast etc.). Walk to the IES Abroad building in Plaza Nueva and go to Spanish language class and one other class that alternates days.

There's usually time in between classes for a coffee, a study break or some time on the IES Abroad rooftop terrace. Walk home for lunch around 2 p.m. Lunch, Spain's main meal,  is huge and delicious, and on a typical day it's common to eat a little too much and settle in for a siesta.

I had evening classes most days so after siesta I would walk back to IES Abroad again. Around 9 p.m. is tapa time. Tapas are small portions of various foods that are served with drinks in restaurants. Tapas typically take the place of dinner in Spain, and in Granada they are free! Getting tapas with friends is a great way to close out the day.

Plaza Trinidad in Granada, Spain

The beautiful Plaza Trinidad

What did you enjoy doing on your free time most?

I loved being able to explore Granada, both by myself and with friends. The atmosphere is so fun and interesting and taking a walk is one of the best and easiest ways to soak up the culture. There are a million little shops and street performers and there's always something going on. I can't count the number of times that I walked outside to find a parade or procession going on down the street. Granada also offers great hiking trails and lookout points that I would absolutely recommend.

Tell us more about your accommodation. What did you like best about it?

I lived in a homestay and my favorite part by far was my host mom. She is 72, speaks no English, and is one of the most caring, loving, and accommodating people I have ever met. I would recommend a homestay above all else because it's such a wonderful way to learn about current events, pop culture, and it is a crash course in conversational Spanish. Also, it's really nice to be in a familial environment, especially if you're missing home or home-cooked meals.

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

Cruising the canals of Venice, Italy

I'm 100 percent certain that living in a homestay made my abroad experience what it was; I couldn't have asked for a better second family.

How has studying abroad in Granada impacted your life at home?

Going to a country where I knew no one and wasn't fluent in the language taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I can adjust to (and thrive in) a multitude of situations and I've definitely become more of a risk-taker. I also met an insanely vibrant group of people who I'm lucky enough to call my friends. Being able to go abroad allowed me to gain an understanding of different cultures, opinions, and perspectives, and it broadened my scope regarding the way I see the world.