Nydia Lopez - 2013 Program Participant

Students sightseeing in Granada, Spain

Sol mates from Spain, Summer 2013

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

Since before college, I had always wanted to travel. One of the top places I wanted to visit was Spain, because of its rich culture, history, and world heritage sites. Though I am fluent in Spanish, I wanted to continue taking Spanish courses to improve my grammar and writing, and decided to do this abroad to get the full experience.

Why did you choose Sol Education Abroad?
I chose Sol Education Abroad because at the SDSU Study Abroad Fair I met one of the director's of the program and he was very helpful and informative. I really liked the fact that Sol Education offers a study abroad program in Granada, Spain, instead of the more popular cities like Barcelona or Madrid. Additionally, Granada is known for its Arabic influence, and since Arabic and Islamic studies is one of my majors, I was really interested in studying in Andalusia.

Plaza de España in Sevilla, Spain

This is at the Plaza de España in Sevilla, which was one of our excursions through Sol.

What was your favorite part about Granada?

Granada is a perfect location to study abroad because it's simply one of the best cities in Spain. There are a variety of things to do and see in Granada and it is conveniently located only an hour away from the Mediterranean coast, and not too far from Morocco. It is also home to La Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, which stands perfectly at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and overlooks the beautiful city of Granada.

What aspects of your program made it unique?

I think there are a couple of things about this program that made it unique to me. Sol Education Abroad's program location in Spain is unique because it is a smaller city, but it is one with so much culture and beauty. It is also unique in the sense that the relationships built with other fellow Sol mates are truly one of a kind. Though my study abroad was a little over two years ago already, we have had Sol reunions and I have kept contact with many of the friends I made abroad.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff were all really helpful, friendly, and informative as well. They always kept us updated with local events and were always available if we needed anything.

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

The one, and only, thing I wish I could have done differently was stay longer. I was only there for a short stay during the summer, and I wish I could have done maybe a whole semester.
Coast of Nerja in Costa del Sol, Spain

Nerja, Spain

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Every day in Granada was a fun and eventful day. I would wake up at 8:00 a.m. everyday, get ready for school, and eat breakfast prepared by our host mom. I would then walk a short distance to the university, where I would be until 2:00 p.m. When classes were over, we would walk back to our homestay and my roommate and I would have lunch with our host mother. We then would take our daily siesta (nap).

Most days, after our siesta, we would meet up with the rest of our program to do one of the cultural activities (Arabic bath, horseback riding, flamenco show, etc.) or to simply explore Granada a little bit more or go for some tapas. We would then go back home and usually eat dinner around 9:00 p.m. Most of the nightlife in Spain doesn't start until very late (or early for that matter), so around 11:00 p.m. or midnight we would meet up with the rest of our group again.

During most weekends we had excursions to other places in Spain, like Seville, Cordoba, and Costa del Sol.

What was your favorite activities outside of your coursework?

I think one of my favorite activities from the program was the Arabic bath we went to in Granada, where we enjoyed an amazing body massage and different temperature pools while enjoying some delicious tea. It was by far been one of the most relaxing experiences I had. However, I got to go paragliding too, which was also a once in a lifetime experience and got to see amazing views of the Sierra Nevada and Granada.
La Alhambra, Granada, Spain

La Alhambra - Granada's crown jewel

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived with a host family near the center of Granada. My roommate and I got along very well. We shared a pretty large room with our own bathroom. I think staying with a host family plays an important role in truly familiarizing yourself with your host country's culture, traditional food, and the local people.

Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?

Studying abroad with Sol Education was my first time traveling alone and only my second time being outside of the U.S. or Mexico. My experience studying abroad in Spain with Sol Education has inspired much of my travel experiences since. I loved Spain and have gone back a couple of times, but have also volunteered abroad in Morocco and traveled to nearby countries. It has impacted my life so positively that I have also been a student ambassador for Sol Education Abroad for the past two years, encouraging other students to study abroad with Sol.