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IES Abroad Granada - Study in Granada
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IES Abroad Granada - Study in Granada

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Dream semester in Granada

Studying abroad through IES Abroad Granada was the best decision I could've made. From the amazing program staff, to my beloved host mom, and the city Granada itself, I felt supported, challenged, and excited on a daily basis. I had the opportunity to take fun and engaging classes- a Spanish class, flamenco dancing, a literature course, a feminist film course, and a class on Islamic architecture (you get to have class in the Alhambra!!). The program offers support in helping students engage in the community. Through IES, I was able to take an extracurricular painting class at a local community art center. Every week, an email of all the amazing events and activities going on goes out- language meet ups, cool tapas bars to check out, museum exhibits... anything under the sun! IES takes students on incredible excursions- one of my favorites was our trip to Morocco, where we had the opportunity to stay in homestay families in Rabat and explore a bunch of different cities. I cannot say enough good things about the staff- Javier is absolutely the best person on the planet for this job, and I loved getting to know the folks at IES Granada. They strike an excellent balance of making students feel comfortable and supported while giving students independence and opportunity to shape their own experiences.

One of the biggest highlights for me was my host mom- she was undoubtedly my best friend while I was abroad, and I learned so much from living with her. She made me feel like family right off the bat, and hanging out with her skyrocketed my Spanish speaking abilities. We went shopping together, went for churros and chocolate, and spent many hours having long chats about life! Living with her was so special, and an experience I will hold in my heart forever.

I also had a really special experience with my intercambio, a local student from the University of Granada. She became one of my close friends, and we would meet for coffee or tapas every couple of weeks. I loved hanging out with the orientadores, local students who lead fun excursions for IES students and also help with orientation at the beginning of the semester. I did a bunch of cool activities with them- went to art exhibits, to cafés, on a hike in a nearby town. I established a strong relationship with one of them, and was invited to her house for lunch at the end of the semester! (a big deal in Spanish culture!)

Granada itself is truly a magical city, with beautiful mountains, tons of nooks and crannies to explore, an abundance of tapas, and wonderful people. I loved sitting in a plaza with a café con leche after class, soaking up the Spanish sun and reading a book or talking with a friend. It's very walkable, very beautiful, and the ideal size for studying abroad- big enough where I felt like I had plenty to explore, but small enough to get to know well. There is also access to nature right outside of the city. I would hike often in the nearby rolling hills, or take a short bus ride to the beautiful Alpujarra, where you can explore the Sierra Nevada and take a breather from the city.

IES Abroad Granda is an amazing program! I truly loved it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an immersive experience full of challenge, fun, and adventure!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

How to fall for a city in 4 short months

Granada- you've got my heart! From the constant life on the street to sunsets from the top of old fortress walls and hills covered in olive trees and murals, playing pick up soccer before watching Granada FC home games with the extended homestay family or stumbling upon festivals and music on my walk home, I absolutely loved my time abroad with IES. A week without tapas or shawarma seemed unfathomable, a day without watching motors weave around on the street just silly. Granada is a beautiful blend of a city with architecture from many different times, religions and styles and a huge student population that keeps it young. It's walkable but not too small, a true city city but not without great hikes and the Sierra Nevada mountains close enough to touch. I'm so grateful for my warm and wonderfully wacky homestay parents and the Spanish pace of life and sense of time. IES program staff, professors, and orientadores are very supportive and provide unique immersive opportunities and excursions. Trips around Andalusia and Morocco helped us understand and explore social and political contexts. Classes were diverse and helped improve my Spanish (the accent and slang in southern Spain is notorious) while allowing for time to get to know and be a part of the city. I had the chance to take a course at the University of Granada through which I made my best Spanish and international friends, people who I will cherish forever. Every day in Granada can be, and was, its own little adventure.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

An Enriching Cultural Experience

Studying abroad in Granada, Spain was truly a blessing. IES has a wonderful program in this beautiful city that will keep you up and moving from the time you step foot off of the plane upon arrival. The program includes many built-in field trips plus an optional excursion to Morocco. These trips allow you to further understand the Andalusia region and its relevance and context within society. In addition, the courses that the program offers are directly pertinent to the region and therefore, one is able to learn about the history, culture, and politics of the city that they walk through daily while in class. I was able to take a wonderful Art & Architecture course where we took weekly field trips throughout the city to visit the monumental sites and areas. Furthermore, I was able to participate in a wonderful internship teaching English at a local elementary school during my time in Granada as well. This experience, along with my wonderful homestay, served to immerse me in the Spanish language and allowed me to form deeper relationships with the many warm and friendly individuals from Granada. During my free time, we were constantly enjoying the wonderful free tapas that came with each purchased drink and embarking on the excursions recommended by our orientation leaders. This experience was truly wonderful overall as it opened and broadened my perspective on the world in many ways! It is a program and city that I would highly recommend!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

No Place like Granada

I loved my study abroad experience. Besides living in one of the most magical cities, the staff is truly wonderful. They really care about every students well-being, are easily approachable, and willing to make time for you. IES has amazing resources for cultural immersion and opportunities to fill your time with meaningful things. The trips to close by areas in Spain helped me experience those places in ways that I wouldn't have been able to do myself. Our 5 day trip to Morocco, filled with home stays in Rabat and conversations with rural town people near Chefchaoen was just one of the many highlights of my 4 months. My host family because mentors and family that I will forever be grateful for. Whether you're eating tapas on Plaza del carmen, walking along the Albaicin admiring the white walls with contrasting vases of beautiful blue flowers, or watching the sunset on the Alhambra- Granada is the place to be. I wouldn't trade my experience for the world and I look forward to going back in the future.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Community

    7

How Granada stole my heart

Where to even begin? My semester abroad in Granada, Spain with IES was by far one of the best experiences of my life! Not only was Granada the perfect city to study abroad in, but IES helped make it feel like home. My host family was phenomenal; they were warm, funny, energetic, generous, and welcomed me into their home with open arms. The classes were interesting, and while not the most academically rigorous, they allowed me to both vastly improve my Spanish skills and have the free time to explore the city and travel. Speaking of travel, the IES led trips were some of the best I took all semester. The five days in Morocco were not only incredibly fun, but insightfully organized and educational. The other day and weekend trips throughout Spain were also great, as they brought me to beautiful Spanish cities I otherwise wouldn’t have explored. But the most incredible part of the travel was how happy I was to come home to Granada every time. Granada is beautiful, the people are friendly, it’s exciting but never feels overly touristy, and most importantly to me, it was small enough (but not too small) that I really felt like I got to know it by the end of my time there. Granada will always have a piece of my heart, and if you choose to study there with IES, I’m sure it will steal yours as well.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

A semester in Granada

Studying abroad with IES in Granada was one of the absolute best experiences I've ever had. Granada is a beautiful, extremely walkable city with countless things to do and sites to see. IES does an amazing job of helping its students find opportunities to integrate themselves into the culture and everyday life of the city. Classes within the program are challenging and diverse in their subjects. I found that my Spanish improved significantly while abroad through the daily Spanish class, the other classes I took in Spanish, speaking with my host mom, and through daily life in the city. IES also has many amazing field trips around southern Spain as well as an incredible five day trip to Morocco. I made some of my best friends abroad and would not change the experience for anything in the world.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Amazing experience in Granada

My only regret is not studying in Granada for anther semester. It is a beautiful, safe, eccentric city and you get to live right in the center of everything! Nothing is more than a 15 minute walk away, the weather can't be beat, and there are always wonderful musicians playing somewhere. Also, you can't beat the free tapas, the food is so dang delicious.

Before I even landed in Spain, IES Abroad sent specific packing lists and were always available to answer my many questions. From the beginning of the semester, they set up great activities and excursions to meet friends early on. They really gave us the chance to ease into living in Spain. I liked liked the small to medium size of the program and that I knew a lot of people in my program by name.

Another couple of highlights from my semester abroad were my homestay and the faculty at the center. My host mom was so loving and I loved having the chance to be more immersed in the language. The professors at the center were great as well. While the classes themselves were not always super interesting, the professors as a whole were really committed in getting to know the students as individuals.

I cannot recommend studying in Granada through IES Abroad enough, when I look back, I know those months spent in Spain will be regarded as some of the best in my life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

City of Pomegranates

My experience in Granada was everything that I could've hoped it would be. I chose the city for its culture and history, having recently written a research paper on the influences of Arabic on Spain and the Spanish language. In Granada, it was so cool to see these influences play out in real life; the mix of culture that is unique to southern Spain stood out and created a study abroad experience like no other. More than that, though, I enjoyed Granada for the variety of academics courses offered, the program trips they planned for us, the city's culture of siesta and tapas, the Spaniards' love for soccer, and the political science class I got to take at the local university. The friends I made, both American and Spanish, will stick with me for a long time, and the memories of a fantastic study abroad experience will last forever.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

No pasa Granada

My semester in Granada was truly fantastic. IES Abroad facilitated the best combination of classes, trips, and living arrangements for all of us, and I would not have changed much about the way the program was run. Living in Granada was immersive but friendly. IES allowed for the perfect balance of fun, school, and adventure.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

An amazing immersion experience

I absolutely loved my time with IES in Granada. The staff was obviously very dedicated to making sure we were comfortable, having fun, and also having a valuable learning experience. You can choose from an interesting variety of coursework, and the building we had classes in is beautiful with a terrace from which you can view the Albaicín and the Alhambra while you study in the sun. I was in a homestay with one roommate and my host mother. My Spanish mother was very clean, an amazing cook, and always took care of me if I ever did not feel well. Once, she spent an entire evening taking me to the doctor and pharmacy when I developed bronchitis.
Granada in and of itself is the perfect city for a college student to spend time in, but I have to say that IES made it truly unique. We went on trips to places I never would have otherwise gone, and the staff gave us the opportunity to participate in cultural experiences such as cooking classes, wine tastings, soccer games, and much more.
People in my program consistently said that they would trust Javier, our director, with their life. Travel plans were sometimes a little difficult to figure out from Granada, but Javier always helped me figure out how to get to my destination in the safest, easiest way. My friend and I had to go to the hospital on separate occasions, and as you might imagine, that is pretty nerve-wracking to do in a foreign country. However, we both felt that IES made us feel safe and make the experience as easy as it could be.
I truly feel that IES provided us with the tools we needed to immerse in Spanish culture. You will feel independent abroad, in fact you will likely develop a sense of independence that you have never experienced before, but if you chose IES Granada, you will also know that there is a support net and community to accompany you along this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    6

A New Definition of Time

It doesn’t take a long time to realize that time slows down when entering Granada, Spain. Everything is adjusted from the constant rush in the US to a nice, mellow pace in Granada. The natives are all about chatting and relaxing. Food to-go or food “para llevar” is a new idea there and it’s relatively rare to find. So, I hope you make friends or else it’s bocadillas for dinner.
Overall, I had a great time in Granada. The food was delicious and cheap. It was by far the cheapest place I have ever lived. I could get a quality meal with a drink for four euros. Can’t beat that anywhere. My classes at IES were relatively easy, not because there weren’t assignments, but because the grading seemed to be laxer than at my University. I also did a few extracurricular activities that really made my experience. I volunteered at a primary school, sang in a choir and took fitness classes at a gym. From these experiences, my Spanish greatly improved.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    8

Granada will steal a place in your heart

It's hard to convey just how amazing a place Granada is, and just how supportive the IES program is. But for the sake of future students, I'll try to share the best parts as well as the things you should be aware of.

What I wish I had known about Granada before leaving: That Granada has so many different wonderful neighborhoods to explore, and plazas and surprises to discover around every bend. Also, that there is an extensive network of trails behind the Alhambra, so nature is never that far away.

Academics: The workload is significantly lighter. As an English major, instead of reading the usual novels, for class we only read poems and short plays. The amount of homework in general is very, very manageable. But in Spain you will find you spend a lot more time “living” – walking from place to place, eating long lunches at home, taking siesta, and going out for hours for tapas. You have to be strategic about using the in-between times to get your homework out of the way. But many of my classes were built around class excursions and trips, and this was incredible. You get to know about the city around you in ways you never could by yourself, and to understand more about Spanish people and modern culture. Of course, not all my classes were as intellectually challenging as my home college, nor were all my professors the best or most memorable I’ve had. Sometimes the work assigned feels more like busy work. I had one class that certainly was amazing, with a professor I won’t soon forget. But overall I feel like I got what I was looking for academically in my time abroad: less work, but classes that were different, some outside my comfort zone, and that opened my eyes to new things.

Social Interaction: It’s in no way difficult to adjust to the Spanish lifestyle, but making Spanish friends is definitely harder. The most interaction I definitely had was with my host mother, Juana. I was able to learn a lot about Spanish culture, sayings, etc. from her, and I really enjoyed spending time with her during lunch, or watching a television series with her. I also enjoyed meeting with my intercambio (language buddy) arranged by the program. We would speak in both Spanish and English, and I was able to learn a lot more about youth culture that way (he was a university student). We usually met in cafes. I'm so grateful that IES arranged intercambios for us -- it was a really special experience. The program also had local university student "orient adores," who would hang out around the IES center and lead day-trips and outings around the city. Go on the trips led by the orientadores! I regret not going on more. Also, I know students who joined outside activities, like pick-up soccer, were able to meet a lot more local students. Spend time with your host family, and make a concerted effort to join them in the activities they enjoy. Also, don’t hesitate to meet the intercambios of your friends in the program!

Life in Spain: Nothing can beat the Spanish way of life. It feels so healthy – all the walking, the long, extended lunches when no one is expected to work and everything shuts down for a few hours. The siestas are a great time to relax, catch up on things, and nap if you need it (the days are long). In the evenings, everyone goes out to meet with friends and grab a drink and tapas. The drinking culture for the most part is healthy as well – people don’t drink to get drunk, which was a perspective-altering change for me coming from campus culture. I always felt so connected to my friends when out for tapas – you get to explore new places together, while having such great conversation. We would hardly check our phones for hours – there was no place we’d rather be, and no one we’d rather be with. Visiting the clubs on the occasional weekend was a new experience for me, but wasn’t intimidating like I thought it would be. Going all out and having fun like the Spaniards do was a blast, and nothing is better to dance to than Latin music. Lazy Sundays are also nice, too – all the stores, except for restaurants, close, and families stroll the city together.

Language Immersion: All my classes were in Spanish, and I always spoke with my host mom in Spanish. I usually spoke with my roommate and fellow American students in English, though. With my intercambio, I spoke both. You will stand out as an American, of course. People in stores or restaurants might speak to you in English, even if you talk to them in Spanish (not all them time, of course). Be stubborn and keep on with your Spanish! I was essentially fluent before I arrived, but my time abroad helped me gain so much more confidence in my abilities, and improved my vocabulary as well! Simply put, speaking Spanish with others is much, much easier in a Spanish-speaking country. You will learn a lot from your host family as well – make the effort to have conversations with them outside of just meal times. And truly take advantage of having intercambios to speak with as well! Again, don’t hesitate to meet the intercambios of your program friends, as well. We were not instructed in the vosotros form, though, so brush up on that before you arrive.

Living Arrangements: I stayed with a host family in the city. Like many students, I had just a host mom (Juana). I also had a roommate, which was also normal for the program. However, my roommate and I shared a room, while most others had separate rooms. The space was large and adequate, though. Juana provided us with breakfast (fruit, coffee/tea, pastries, toast), and a large and delicious lunch each day. Dinner was on our own, though my home college provided a meal allowance for this. Tapas are easy to find and very affordable. (Because they're free... with a drink!) I very much enjoyed spending time with my host mom, Juana. She was very talkative, and I learned a lot from her. I also got a few colds over the semester, and she was very helpful – went to the clinic for the first time with me, and gave me tea and advice. As with most Spanish mothers, she refuses to let you help with the chores. She tidied our rooms, and also did our laundry each week, which I was always very grateful for. The only drawback I guess was having to share a room, though there was an extra office space we could use for phone calls and homework. I found that living in a homestay was the best of both worlds – I got learn from and interact with a local, had some meals and services provided, and since I had only a host mom, I never felt like I had to modify my behavior at home in respect for an entire family. There were few rules, and no real curfew, though Juana did prefer to know if we were planning on staying out late a certain evening. The walk to campus from our apartment was probably about 20-25 minutes one-way. I didn’t chose to use the city buses to get to campus, though a few students who lived farther out did (round trip, maybe 3 euro?). I know many other students lived closer and had a shorter walk, though. If there was a minor emergency, a taxi would probably only cost 4 to 6 euro. I very much enjoyed my walks to campus though – walking is a big part of life in Spain, and there is so much to see. I got really fit over the course of the semester!

Finances: Granada is the cheapest city in Spain! This felt like a continual gift the whole time I was there. Grabbing tapas or popping into a cafe is particularly cheap (maybe 2-5 euro), so it's easy to go out with friends and not have to worry about spending too much money. I and almost everyone I know simply withdrew euros from the ATM. As always, it’s recommended to withdraw large amounts at once so that the small ATM fee doesn’t end up accumulating with too many withdrawals. I had a debit card while abroad, and I don’t think I was always charged for a withdrawal fee. Though you can usually find a way to pay with debit/credit card at restaurants and larger shops abroad, Spain is extremely cash heavy, and people rarely use their cards. I recommend to always have a lot of cash on you, and to have something that can function as a coin purse as well, as you will accumulate lots of euro coins. It’s certainly an adjustment, but I now miss paying mostly in cash and coins! It’s also a lot easier to keep track of what you’re spending (if you really need to) when you’re using cash. I spent a lot less on supplies than I normally would in a semester. As far as program expenses go, all IES-led trips are included in the price of the program, except for a 4 day trip to Morocco for about $400. I went, and I can safely say that it was a priceless experience!

Safety: In general, Granada is an exceedingly safe place. The streets feel safe at night, though do your best to walk with friends and stick to main streets where people are still out. This is something I really miss about Granada -- there's nowhere where I've ever felt safer while out at night. As for crime, there was just the one student I knew who had her phone stolen by a pickpocket in one of the most touristy place in Granada, the Mirador de San Nicolas. In general I wouldn’t say that pickpockets are a big worry, but if you are in an extremely crowded and touristy area of the city (like the Alhambra), keep your belongings close to you. The people of Granada exercise their right to protest/demonstrate on a regular basis, and sometimes streets will be blocked for pedestrian traffic only. They are never unruly or violent, however. Most demonstrations are smaller. IES has an online location tracker for you to fill out with details whenever you travel outside of Granada -- in case anything were to happen, they want to know where you are and if you are safe. There is also a text alert and phone call system in place.

Program Summary: I'd say the strengths in the program are: Improvement in Spanish level, staff support, resources, program trips and activities, GRANADA, creative classes with many class excursions, the amazing friends you’ll make. The IES staff members are easy to talk with, and easy to get in contact with as well -- I was able to text with the program director even over Spring Break! Javier, the director, is such an amazing person: enthusiastic, well-educated, and a people person. He's spent a lot of time in the U.S. as well, so he really understands student perspectives and problems. I’d say the only downside to this location is that Granada does not have a major airport, and you’ll often have to take a bus to Malaga for international travel. A student who would thrive on this program is likely curious to explore, enthusiastic about speaking Spanish, prefers smaller cities, and is looking to really get to know the host city intimately. Those looking to make many friends, to spend lots of time out and about with them. A student who loves to go out will also enjoy the club scene, though it is by no means something necessary to enjoy the semester. If international travel is the main objective of your study abroad experience, you might find that it will be easier to do from a larger host city/a capital city.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    8

No pasa granada

Granada, you will always have my heart. Walking down calle San Matthias on those narrow "sidewalks" to get to class, doing homework in the IES terrace while the Alhambra sits there teasing me in the golden hour, playing fútbol with friends both Spanish and American in Almería every Tuesday and cartuja every Thursday, eating tapas but more importantly Schwarma whenever I got the chance. Granada was such an incredible city to live in and I will always remember the people who made it so memorable. The IES staff, orientadores, people on the program and Spanish friends I made will have a special place in my heart, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to live this experience. My host mom, now my second mom, taught me the cultural elements that make Andalucía and Granada so unique- through her beautiful and articulate stories at lunch time, and the incredible meal that awaited us every afternoon as we came home. I was so darn lucky, but I knew it; every day I punched myself, sure that I was dreaming. But every little red mark on my arm reminded me that no, in fact this was real. I will be back to Granada as soon as I can. Thank you IES for allowing me this unforgettable semester, I will cherish it forever.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Granada: a home away from home

IES did an AMAZING job at fostering a sense of family and community between the students. The orientation leaders (local college students) led a variety of activities that allowed the study abroad students to mix and mingle with the locals. IES also provided me with many different living options, I chose to live with a host family, and we are still very close today! Although Granada has become very popular for tourists, it has remained a mainly spanish-speaking city, and I returned home with very advanced spanish speaking skills. My four months here were the best four months of my life, and i would go back in a heart beat if i could.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

4 months as a Granadina

Choosing IES Granada was easily one of the best decisions I've made. The program honestly could not have been better, every member of the staff was super fun, supportive, and accommodating. Granada is the perfect place to study abroad-- it is small enough to be authentic and not feel super touristy, but big enough to always have things to do and places to go. It also has a bunch of beautiful hikes/nature and isn't too far from the beach. I lived in a homestay and absolutely LOVED my host mom and family! If I had to choose again I would 150% choose IES Granada!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Community

    8

No pasa nada Granada

Wow. IES abroad Granada was an incredible experience that I will cherish forever. I had an unforgettable 4 months, met fascinating people from Spain and on my program, really enhanced my Spanish through my homestay family, orientadores on the program and taking classes in only Spanish. The IES Granada program was very organized, with incredible teachers, student leaders and director. I was able to explore Europe on the weekends if I wanted to, but I loved staying in Granada and exploring what the city has to offer. The program offered trips (Sevilla, Córdoba, Rhonda, even Morocco). I was so fortunate to go on all of the program trips, and will remember them always. I still have flashbacks to specific moments I had abroad, and am already to go back to my beautiful new second home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Mi corazón queda en Graná (my heart is still in Granada)

If there is one word I could use to summarize my time in Granada with IES, it would be "perfect". Every single aspect of the program - from my homestay, the program staff, the city itself, my professors, and the other students on my program - was so much better than I could have imagined it.

Everyone's homestays were different, but I lived with a young couple named Nieves and Carlos. Their apartment was small, but had everything I needed and was very comfortable. Nieves was a great cook, and was super accommodating to any foods I didn't like. She and Carlos both worked and were very social, so I had plenty of time to myself which I liked. They also invited me out with their friends and to concerts, which was so so fun.

The IES staff and the administration of the program were also incredible. Every single member of the staff, including the "orientadores", or orientation leaders, were so friendly, so available, and just really cool people. They were always easy to reach and helpful with anything that you would need. I liked most of the courses that I took, although they were certainly very easy compared to my home university courses. At times this was desirable, but at other times I wished I was challenged a little more. The courses that I took were: the mandatory Spanish language course (I was in SPAN403), Islamic Art and Architecture and Its Impact (ABSOLUTELY take this course!!), Spain and the EU, Federico García Lorca and the Andalusian Literary Tradition (also LOVED this course), and a class called Anthropology of Development at the University of Granada. I would definitely recommend taking a class at UGR if your level of Spanish is high enough. It was a great way to meet local students and challenge myself academically.

The city of Granada itself is one of the most special places I've ever been. It is tucked up against the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range and its pride and joy, the Alhambra, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Its small streets are dotted with historical Muslim artifacts, hip tapas bars & cafes, beautiful architecture, and parks. I cannot forget to mention one of my favorite aspects of the city: it is a city-wide law that with every drink you order at a tapas bar, you receive a free tapa.

I cannot recommend this program enough. I really loved the small size, because it was so easy to meet people and make friends. It also allowed to staff to really get to know you. I cannot say enough positive things about IES or about Granada, but I hope it will suffice for me to say that it was the most amazing, fulfilling, and transformative experience of my life.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    8

IES Abroad Granada

I had a fantastic time during my study abroad trip to Granada with IES Abroad. I am very happy with my overall experience and there is not much that I would change about it. My Spanish wildly improved after living there for an entire semester and I made great friends who I was heartbroken to leave. I had many great experiences both traveling around Spain and in Granada, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. My classes were interesting and informative and I was able to greatly refine the focus of my major during my time studying there. I would definitely recommend IES Abroad, with its great teachers and directors, to anyone looking to have a great experience abroad.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Studying abroad in Granada

There are so many reasons to study with IES Granada: the program was the perfect balance of support and challenge. Whether you are nervous about going abroad for the first time, or skeptical that studying abroad, will not be authentic living, the program staff ensure that you have the best experience for you- challenging you to leave your comfort zone, while providing all the support one could need to feel safe and secure abroad. They work with you to craft your experience. For me, this meant taking all of my classes at IES in Spanish and enrolling in 2 University of Granada courses as well, getting connected with a local organization to volunteer, and living in a homestay. For others, this meant taking a few classes in Spanish, participating in cultural workshops, and making friends with locals on the sports field. There is so much to do in Granada, a city with rich historical culture, and vibrant student nightlife. Whether you come to study Spanish, dance, music, literature, history, or even biology, this city has something for everyone, and the IES Staff are there to help you shape your experience to make it perfect for you.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Experiencing Granada

Spring 2016 I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Granada, Spain. The location itself is amazing. Granada is an exciting city with a smaller feel that makes it less overwhelming and more inviting and manageable. I loved the cultural fusion of Morocco and Spain that danced through the architecture, people, art, and food. Moreover, you can't beat free tapas! The program, IES Abroad, was well-organized, inviting, and small enough to feel personal and connected. The instructors are phenomenal, the courses are challenging but doable, and the excursions/activities are fantastic. There was such an emphasis placed on personal development and growth. I highly recommend this program to those wishing to learn a lot about multiple cultures, as well as themselves, in a tight-knit community.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 ;) ...