Well, I can't believe it but I'm finally here. The moment I have been waiting for has finally arrived and all of the preparations are behind me- I'm living my dream! It still doesn't feel real but I will be living here in Granada, Spain for the next three and a half months! I have been here for two weeks today and time is already flying by! When I first got here I flew into Madrid to meet my program (ISA) and that is where we stayed for the first two nights. Madrid is great! There are so many places to see and things to do that one could never be bored. The next stop was Toledo. Unfortunately we were only there for one night but I had a blast! Toledo is the most beautiful city I have ever seen and it is definitely a must see in Spain! It seems like there is more history in that one city then there is in all of the United States! The day after Toledo is when we finally arrived in my host city Granada, and let me tell you- it's beautiful! There are views of the mountains everywhere and the buildings are gorgeous. I have already gotten to know the city fairly well. It is very easy to find your way around here- especially with all of the friendly people that help you when you are lost. That's another great thing about this city that I have noticed (besides the great food and drinks!) is that everyone is so friendly. They are pretty used to foreigners being here because it is one of the top cities in Spain for foreign students, and I can see why!
Everything isn't as perfect as it may seem, however. Adjusting to life in a foreign country (especially for someone like me who had never traveled outside of the US) is very challenging. You try to prepare yourself for the adjustment period but in reality there is no way to prepare except for the anticipation of feeling overwhelmed. Although rough, this is probably one of the most rewarding parts of studying abroad- you learn about yourself. The confusion and challenging part of studying abroad wares off pretty quickly when you realize that you are doing something so rewarding that not many people have the strength to do. It has only been two weeks and I have already realized this, imagine how I will change after four months! Living abroad is such a thrill unlike any other, and I wish that schools would require it!
Now that I am off my soapbox I will talk more about what I have done! The first weekend I was here in Granada a group of the ISA kids planned a trip to Nerja Beach (about one and a half hours south of Granada) and it was great! The easy traveling around Europe is no myth. It only set us back about 20 euros! Very cheap. This beach is gorgeous and there are views of mountains everywhere. The water is so blue and the town is adorable. Our second night in Granada was very fun as well because ISA treated us to Flamenco. That was a really fun experience. I have also been able to go out for tapas several times (small dishes of food that you get with a purchased drink) which is a very popular social outing here in Granada. One great thing about tapas that is only in Granada is that they are free! Great money saver, and this also makes for a fun "tapa hoping" night out.
I am very glad that I decided to go out of my comfort zone and study abroad for a semester. To anyone who has any doubt: just do it. It's totally worth it and you will quickly realize the benefits!