Study Abroad Experience – Granada, Spain

Study abroad was always something I wanted to prioritize in my college experience. As a language major, studying Spanish abroad was a unique chance to improve my fluency and conversational comfortability that I didn’t want to turn down. When looking at colleges, I wanted to find a place where study abroad was a seamless part of the experience, and Scripps had just that. Through our study abroad office SAGE (Study Abroad and Global Education), Scripps partners with over 100 programs in over 40 countries that Scripps students are approved to attend, so the options really feel endless. SAGE works out airfare and helps you through all the little details, so going abroad costs just the same as being in California.

I wrote a blog post last year on exactly how I chose my study abroad program in Granada, Spain, so if you want some more details on that process, definitely check that out. Now that I’m back, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite parts of the experience!

First, socially, I had a great time. I was so lucky to make a great friend from day one of the program, and by the end of the semester I felt so close to many people in my 70 person program. This smaller sized program made me feel at home in a new place. I also took classes at the local university, Universidad de Granada, and made friends there as well as with the students who I lived in my residence hall with. Exploring Granada through a local’s eye helped me have a more rich cultural experience. Going abroad without a close friend was an intentional choice on my part. I have loved my Scripps community dearly, and still do, but wanted to push myself to really grow beyond that while abroad. Now, I have friends at liberal arts colleges across the United States, as well as some back in Spain!

Secondly, I absolutely adored Granada. It’s around a 200,000 person city, which felt very manageable for a semester. I lived right in the city center, around a 3 minute walk from the Cathedral. I’ve loved the small town atmosphere of Claremont, but it was exciting to have live jazz two minutes away from my room, and to be able to walk to dozens upon dozens of tapas places. Near the end of the semester, I had my favorite places to walk to, knew exactly where to get the best cappuccino, and where to get the best view of the sunset. While I wanted a bigger city atmosphere than Claremont, I’m happy I stuck with a relatively small city so I could get the same small town comfortability I’m used to.

Third, I loved the opportunity to explore other places! One of the biggest tips I’d give to someone heading abroad is to choose a city they’d be happy to stay in most of the time. If I had chosen a bigger city, flights away would have been cheaper, it would have been easier to take weekend trips. But I so valued the time I spent in Granada, and even though I only took a few trips, sometimes I wish I had taken even less! That said – I did love exploring Spain further on short trips, and parts of Europe and Northern Africa on other ones. Learning to be more comfortable solo traveling was a huge goal I set for my semester abroad, and time spent in cafes and museums alone in Italy were some of my favorite moments of the trip. Also, visiting friends abroad was a huge highlight! If you can squeeze in some outside travel on your semester abroad, I’d highly recommend it, but prioritizing getting to know your city is very important too.

I can’t overstate how happy I was to have the chance to study abroad. If it seems like the right choice for you, it is a unique experience to meet new people and broaden your college experience beyond the institution you attend. The SAGE office at Scripps college was so helpful in my decision process, as well as during my abroad semester, and I’d definitely check out their website for ideas of what kinds of programs work the best for you. I hope this post was helpful to understand what an abroad semester can be like, and please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] if you have any further questions!