COLA Study Abroad Interview- Hannah Matillano- Granada

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COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself! 

My name is Hannah and I am a junior Communication and Spanish double major. I’m 20 years old, turning 21 in May! I studied abroad in Granada, Spain in the spring of 2017.

COLA: Why did you choose to study abroad in Granada? Why a UNH managed program specifically?

I chose Granada because it seemed to promote language learning by having the students stay with native host families and classes taught in Spanish. That was my primary criteria, but it was a bonus that it was a UNH managed program because that meant the tuition remained the same as if I were living on campus. It also helped greatly that a UNH faculty member was abroad with us, so that we could go to her if we ever had any questions or emergencies. It was also easy to transfer credits back to UNH.

COLA: Have you been out of the country before? If so, where? Did this influence your decision to study abroad in Granada?

Yes, I have been out of the country before. My parents came from the Philippines–and most of our family is there–so we go there once every few years and stay for a couple weeks or more. I have also been to London for a vacation with my family, as well as Niagara Falls (the Canadian side) and Quebec City, Canada.
In a way, my travel experience did influence my decision to go abroad. I felt more secure about spending four months abroad as a sophomore in college, because I knew I had developed the independence that would help me thrive.


COLA: What were your expectations of Granada before arriving?

Based on pictures I saw and using Google Street View, I kind of expected that Granada would be confusing city that I would easily get lost in. It was really intimidating. I also thought that Granada would be pretty warm all year round, because some program alumni told us that it doesn’t get much colder than fall in New Hampshire. That turned out to be not so true.

COLA: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from studying abroad?

I learned that trying things out of my comfort zone is almost always worth it. I also learned that I could only get better at speaking Spanish by practicing as much as possible, even if I make numerous–stupid–mistakes. I’ve learned to try new things so that I could be glad that I had experiences rather than regret never getting out there.

COLA: What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?

My experience in Granada has made me realize that as much as I think that I can easily try new things, at times it was hard to put myself out there. I grappled with some self-doubt, but eventually I was able to overcome it with the help of other people in my program. I also realized how much the world has to offer, and it made me more determined to get out of my bubble and experience all of it.

COLA: Did you travel outside your host city? If so, where was your most favorite place you went and why? 

Yes, I did travel outside my host city, mostly in trips that were planned by the program. However, my favorite place I went to was Barcelona during our spring break. It was the first trip that a friend and I planned by ourselves, which was something really exciting by itself! We stayed for five days, exploring the city the way we wanted to and learning to budget our time and money. We rented an apartment for our stay, so we both learned how to cook our dinners and pack our own lunches and snacks for the day. On top of that, Barcelona was a large and beautiful city and there was so much to see. We had a blast there!


COLA: Tell us about the classes you took abroad. Did you have any memorable moments in any of these classes?

The classes that we took overall had significantly less workload than typical UNH classes. However, they were more oriented to the (pop) culture and history in Spain, which I found to be quite educational. I especially liked my writing and oral production class, where we learned a lot of Spanish slang and street talk!

COLA: Why do you recommend studying in Granada? What are some of the benefits of studying there? 

I recommend the Granada program to anyone who is looking for a rich cultural experience and an improvement in Spanish speaking. It’s easy to sign up for classes that transfer back to UNH, and the tuition price is hard to beat! You also get put with awesome host families who make you feel as comfortable as possible and who help you practice your Spanish. If you ever need support, not only is your host family there to help you, but you have other people in the UNH program who’ve got your back and the program director who is abroad with you. On top of that, Granada is a small, but manageable, breathtaking city that is sure to steal your heart as soon as you see your first sunset from El Mirador de San Nicolas. You also get reasonably priced high-quality wine that comes with FREE tapas. I’m pretty sure Granada is the only place where the tapas are free! 🙂

COLA: What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students looking to study in Granada? 

One piece of advice I’d have for students looking to study in Granada is to not be afraid of exploring alone. Honestly one of the best days was when I wandered Granada by myself, and I found a whole new part of my neighborhood that had an ice rink and a nearby mall with clear views of the mountains! Also, pack your warmest winter jacket because it is very cold when you first arrive. I didn’t pack mine and my host mom ended up giving me her daughter’s old winter coat. Don’t be me. Bring a winter jacket!

COLA: Any last comments?

Regardless of where you study abroad, it will be one of the best experiences of your life and is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Take it!

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