Credit: Guy Huntley
COLA: Intro: (Tell us a bit about yourself)
Rachel: My name is Rachel, and I am currently a sophomore at UNH. I am double majoring in Spanish and Business Administration, hopefully with a student-designed option in Social Innovation. I was born in Brasil and moved to Lebanon, NH freshman year of high school. At UNH, when I’m not in class I’m usually drinking tea at the Freedom Café.
COLA: Why did you choose the Granada program?
Rachel: Once I started studying Spanish, I decided that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country, because after my experience moving from Brasil to the U.S., I knew that there is no better way to learn a language than to immerse yourself in it. Then it was just a matter of looking at my options, and Granada seemed great because it is a semester long program and it is UNH managed. The semester-long part was important to me because it felt like less than that would be more of a trip, and I wanted to really live somewhere, and the UNH managed part is also important because it makes it all simpler: I don’t have to do any extra paperwork, worry about whether credits are going to transfer, etc., everything is taken care of for us.
Credit :Guy Huntley
COLA:What were your biggest pre-departure challenges?
Rachel: Knowing what to pack was hard because I think I forgot that they would have most of the stuff I’m used to for sale in Spain as well, and I was constantly worrying about forgetting something I really needed.
COLA:Were you able to carve out opportunities to meet locals abroad? How was socializing in Spain different from socializing back home?
Rachel: To be honest, meeting locals, and especially following through on those relationships, was one of the hardest parts for me, and very different from what I expected. I did meet Spaniards in my host family and some of their friends, and also met a couple people out and at school, but since I already knew some people that came on the program with me, it was hard to keep trying to hang out with the new people. But that was a lot my fault too, because there are a lot of bars that have “intercambios” where you can just go and meet new people, and I also know some other people from the group made connections through church groups or sports.
Credit: Guy Huntley
COLA: What courses did you study while in Granada? Did you find your course work pushed you to explore more of Granada and Spain that you might not have otherwise?
Rachel: I took “Islamic Culture in Spain,” and “The Political System of the European Union,” both which I really recommend, and also “Speaking and Writing Skills,” ” Economics and Business in Spain and Latin America” and “Spanish Literature.” Some of the courses we’re really interesting as a supplement to the experience of being in Spain. For example the “Spanish Literature” class introduced us to important figures and ideologies of different times that we are able to see in the Cathedral of Granada and around the city. But overall, I think my Islamic culture class had the biggest impact on me because it helped me appreciate even more the magic of being in such a culturally enriched place like Granada. What I learned in that class made me more fascinated with the Alhambra, the Puerta de Elvira, and all of these places around the city and around Spain that really make you travel back in time and remember a mostly forgotten, but nonetheless fascinating part of western history.
COLA: Did you have a chance to explore Granada and other cities in Spain?
Rachel: The UNH Program took us to Valencia, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Mérida, Córdoba, Seville, and probably other places I’m forgetting now. And besides all of that, taking a bus to Málaga, Seville, or Ronda for the day/weekend is really simple, and definitely worth it! In Granada there’s also a lot to do, and while the program takes us around a lot, it’s important to get lost once in a while too and explore by yourself. One thing I learned too is that it seemed easier to go to other places in Europe than to other cities in Spain, but I think that was mostly because it seemed like a lot of work to stay so close to Granada. However, I really wish I had taken time to see more of Cordoba, visit Ronda and the north of Spain.