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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

    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

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

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

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

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 ;) ...

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    9

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    9

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    9

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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.