Welcome to Granada, vale?
Well, here I am! I guess I should start with how I got to Granada, because it was quite the journey. As soon as my flight landed in Madrid, I immediately headed towards the airport cafe. After ordering some delicious looking pastries, I befriended this sweet Italian woman who proceeded to tell me all about her children and grandchildren as we ate. Afterwards, she explained to me which bus I should take from the airport to the bus station (since I was taking a bus to Granada). However, once I got outside, I was told to that I should take the metro instead. After finally finding the metro ticket booth, I was told by those people that I should take a bus upstairs (where I had been originally). Frustrated, I finally found the bus I needed to take and got on, only to get off at the wrong stop. Once I FINALLY reached the bus station (a couple hours later), I was told the next bus leaving for Granada wouldn't leave for several more hours. Thankfully, someone who worked at the other bus station (apparently there are two) informed me that I could take the metro to the bus station he worked at and there were buses there that left every hour. I took the metro with him and was finally able to get on a bus to Granada, where I took a taxi to my hotel so I wouldn't get lost once again. Lugging around my giant suitcase everywhere was not enjoyable, but at least now I'm familiar with all the public transportation Spain has to offer!
After this crazy start to my trip, things got a lot better. I met up with the people from my program and met my host mother (we call them our host abuelas). I am sharing a room with another girl from the Central College program, Emily, who also happens to be a double major in Psychology and Spanish (Destiny?). Besides us, our host abuela's son (who's in his late twenties) also lives in the apartment, along with a study abroad student from Japan. Together, the five of us make up an interesting group.
My host abuela is going to become a real abuela any day now, so Emily and I are just waiting for a little baby to show up to the apartment (very exciting!!). The apartment is fairly small and narrow, and much to my dismay, there is not central heating (common in Spain). However, meals are eaten at the dining room table which has a heater underneath it. When it is time for meals, we all sit around the dining room table, pull the tablecloth onto our laps (so we can feel the heater), and watch Big Bang Theory or an equally entertaining game show while we eat. So far, meals are a lot different here, but I am slowly becoming accustomed to eating lunch and dinner later (the trick is to pack lots of snacks). While other people in the program have host abuelas who make them authentic Spanish food, our abuela hasn't made us anything other than soup, pasta, and even one night, hamburgers. However, there are plenty of opportunities to eat food in Granada, as it's a fairly big city, so outside of my apartment I have already had Spanish pastries, plenty of tapas, and churros y chocolate (the classic Granadian snack of churros that you dip in thick hot chocolate). Something unique to Granada is that tapas (varieties of Spanish finger foods) are almost always free with your drink, which so far has been pleasantly surprising and always delicious. As for drinks, tinto de verano (red wine mixed with a white soda and lemon) has been a favorite among our group, and it tastes even more delicious than the tapas.
Wait, we have to take classes?
Once we all arrived to Granada and got settled in, we were immediately sat down in a classroom and given a written test and a multiple choice test to determine which orientation class we would be in. Thankfully, I scored a 7 which means that I am in the highest class and I will able to take classes in the Hispanic Studies program, which contains the Spanish classes I need to take this semester. So far, our orientation class has been very enlightening, since our professor Sole not only works on grammar with us, but she also gives us a bit of Spanish 101 etiquette. Who knew you were supposed to refuse drinks the first (and second) time someone offers them at their house, or that saying "thank you" when you are given a compliment is seen as sarcastic and rude? Not to mention that everybody and their dog uses "vosotros" here, whereas most of us were never taught this thoroughly in school. Along with the separated orientation class in the afternoons, in the mornings we all have another orientation class with Veronica, the woman who runs the study abroad program. She is very blunt and doesn't hesitate to call us out when we're being "americanas estupidas". She has been involved with this program for years, and we all get the feeling that she has seen it all and there is very little we could do that would shock her.
Along with exploring Granada, I found the Granada swing dancing scene because thankfully, swing dancing is big in Europe. A couple of girls came with me to the New Orleans Granada bar and while I danced, they drank and befriended the bartender. By the end of the night, we were all very happy, and we all can't wait to go back next week. Maybe this time I'll actually be able to convince them try dancing!