The First time I saw Granada on January 25th still seems like a dream even a month after. I know I have not written anything since my first post but for me, it has been difficult finding the right things to say. In many cases, I have sat down and pondered what to write, or what needs to be expressed. However, the only thing that is constant in my mind is that I just need to sit down and let my fingers fly on the keyboard.
Like I mentioned before entering Granada was like a dream; from the bus I could only see mountains and what seemed like little towns but out of nowhere comes this beautiful city, with its unique architecture and beautiful buildings. When it was time to actually step out of the bus and be part of the city I still felt that it was not real. That day or
even that week I really got an eye full of what my days in Granada were going to be like. To say the least, I walked the majority of Granada in my first week, or that is how I felt.
The first day from the time that I got out of the bus to the time I when to sleep I spent walking. My host mom showed me how to get home from the center of the city and where the location of every meeting for CEA would be, Correos. When I finally met my roommate she was on her way to meet friends and invited me to tag along. I had a lot of fun but at the end of that day my feet were killing me, and to my regret, it was just the beginning. From the 26th to 29th I would spend all my time walking from almost 8:30 am to about 7:00 pm with some breaks in between. Most of the time I felt like I didn’t have any break whatsoever, I just got home to eat when out of nowhere it was time again to head out. Not to say that it wasn’t fun, on the contrary, I had a lot of fun and between getting a little lost in the city and having the opportunity to tour and learn about Granada has been unbelievable.
In my first week, I had orientation, the placement exam, and tours of the city itself, such as the Arabic Granada, the Albayzin, and the Alhambra. When each day of touring or orientation was done I felt like I accomplished something. For a girl that almost never walked miles I have walked like there was no tomorrow. I even have proof if you don’t believe me, and my proof is my blisters. Even to this day, I can still see hints of my battle scars. Now if you tell me that I need to get somewhere and it only takes about 15 minutes, in my mind I’m thinking, “Wow, it’s actually pretty close.” To give you a better picture, it’s about a 20-minute walk from my house to Correos and a little longer from my house to school. Excluding my roommate, because she is taller and has longer strides, it takes me about 30 minutes to get from home to Correos or even my house to school. In addition, I have to take this walk about four times a day, not including volunteering or other activities done in the center of the city. So needless to say now you understand why I mentioned a 15-minute walk is nothing compared to all the other walking I have to do.
I know I have mentioned a lot of new information and places in Granada and you may be wondering what it means or why are they important, let me tell their importance. The CLM or Centro de Lenguas Modernas is one of the best-established departments for foreign exchange students. They have nine levels of Spanish and you have to take a three-hour test before signing up for classes. The grading is an average of three components: comprehension, writing, and oral. The exam is so detailed that it allows for a greater understanding of the actual level that each person has, which allows for a better transition and understanding of the material. In my case, I was able to study at a level 8. In this level, I was able to take 400 level classes instead of the 300. Even though, the news where great I now need to do all of the exchange course approval form all over again.
Now for the fun part of Granada, the tours. On the first day, we were shown how to appear as if we were from Granada and not tourists. In other words, the main places that we needed to know are where the school was located, stores, gyms, church, and the shopping areas. In the tour of the Albayzin, we were shown how the oldest part of Granada would have looked like and how the people lived in the past. Granada is one of the oldest cities in Spain and one with a lot of history. Just to give an idea, Cristobal Colon’s trip to the Americas was finalized in Granada, in the Alhambra, the oldest part of the city. If you ever want to visit the Alhambra reserve your tickets well in advance because it takes weeks or even months for new ones to become available. Many of the Alhambra buildings were destroyed and only three palaces and a church
survive. In place of the torn down buildings gardens have been built. If you want to have an idea of how the Alhambra may have looked like you just have to look at the Albayzin which one can see from the Alhambra or vise versa. Going down from the Albayzin you can then enter the Arabic Granada which is located close to Isabela la Catholica. Before I forget and if you were able to read all the way to this point, don’t forget to check my facebook or the #rebelsabroad for pictures of all I have seen of Spain. Overall, my first week in Granada has given me a great sense of history and beauty but as the first week concluded classes where around the corner.