Three months of Spanish culture and language immersion in the beautiful city of Granada in Southern Spain.
Highs & Lows
Flamenco performances and Islamic architecture.
The trip was cut short due to the beginning of COVID-19.
In only three months, I went from barely understanding a single word in Spanish to being able to communicate with locals and make friends from all around the world. All the while enjoying amazing food, beautiful views, and unforgettable experiences.
El Albaicín is the oldest neighborhood in Granada that is famous for its Islamic architecture and spectacular views of the Alhambra. I stayed here because I was studying at Carmen de las Cuevas, a small school that is situated inside the caves of the mountains in another neighborhood of Granada, Sacromonte. El Albaicín is located in the mountains of Granada and consists of small streets of cobblestone that stretch in a labyrinth and allow you to easily get lost exploring the area. In any part of the neighborhood, it is possible to hear the distant sounds of someone playing a flamenco song on the guitar and singing. The Plaza San Nicolás offers a perfect view of the Alhambra that is equally beautiful in the day as it is at night with all its lights, and the Mirador de San Miguel is a short hike up the mountain that provides a view of the entire city.
Carmen de las Cuevas is a school that is literally inside the caves of the neighborhood, Sacromonte, where Gypsies once resided in the 15th century. The caves are no longer inhabited by gypsies, but the Flamenco influence and tradition are still alive and well. The students in the school came from all over the world and were of all ages. Some people came to study Spanish for 1 week before moving on to other destinations, while others were studying for multiple years. I only came to learn Spanish, but there were many people who came only to learn Flamenco and some that were taking classes in both areas. The Spanish classes were organized by level, and the professors came together to discuss each student every 2 weeks to make the necessary level changes for all of us. All of our classes were a maximum of 8 students; one of my classes was just the professor and me, which resulted in an extremely personalized lesson plan. I met people from all over the world and can honestly say I have never learned something as fast as I learned Spanish during my time there. The classes were relaxed and conversational, and we always had a break to go out on the patios and enjoy the spectacular views and gorgeous climate. The school gave us the option to use their housing in nearby apartments, to be paired with a host family, or find our own place to stay. The professors were wonderful, and I am still in contact with them today!
Córdoba is a city in Spain that, like Granada, has a rich history and a mix of cultures. The city has the most UNESCO world heritage sites in the world, one of which is the Mosque-Cathedral. Originally, the Mosque-Cathedral was built as a mosque for the Muslim-controlled region of Al-Andalus, and then later converted into a cathedral when Córdoba was captured by Christian forces. During my time in Córdoba, I took a tour of the Mosque-Cathedral and got to see the amazing architecture and historical art. I also walked across the Roman Bridge, which is another world heritage site. Walking through Córdoba was like walking through history because of the artifacts that still exist there from different time periods and cultural changes. We went to a restaurant and tried the famous Salmorejo, a cold soup in Spain that is popular in Córdoba - and one of my favorite Spanish foods (because it is one of the few traditional meals that doesn't have meat.
Q & A
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Someone stole my phone from my backpack. Just like any destination in the world, always be cautious of where you put your valuables when walking through public spaces.
Granada has a law where tapas must be served whenever you order a drink in a restaurant. The food was amazing, even for those who don't eat meat. I recommend trying Shawarma King, as there are probably hundreds throughout the city. La goma is a great vegan restaurant.
Southern Spain is well known for the blazing heat of the summer, but the nights are cool - especially in the Albaicín because of its altitude. I recommend bringing a variety of clothes and pack for the possibility of wearing layers to adjust to the changing climate.