Granada – more than expected.

By Brandon Truett – API Granada Peer Mentor

Brandon attends the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and studied with API in the Spanish Language and Culture Program at The University of Granada, in Granada, Spain during the spring 2010 term.


Panoramic view of Granada from Alhambra - Lauren Sboto

Before venturing abroad, I imagined my host city, Granada, to be a small rural town, bereft of any semblance of a modern city. After speaking with my study abroad advisor about my desire to become proficient in Spanish, she suggested Granada in place of a huge cosmopolitan city like Madrid or Barcelona. She imparted that Granada was smaller and in effect more traditional; not many Granadinos would be apt to speak in English, even if they spoke the language. However, after taking the bus from orientation in Madrid, by night, we pulled into the bus depot, with cabs whizzing by and Spaniards walking with purpose in and around our luggage.

Granada's beautiful murals - Lauren Meyer

The walls near the bus depot were spackled with fluorescent colors in bizarre shapes and art forms, representing a Granadino graffiti tradition that I would soon admire greatly. This wasn’t the sprawling landscape of a hushed, traditional Spanish pueblo I had imagined on the eight-hour flight from Philadelphia. My expectations were twisted yet exceeded in a way. I had accepted an imagined Granada of taking buses to class and treading along dusty trails; however, I realized Granada contained an urban city center, which I desired in my ideal host city.

Students looking out over Alhambra in Granada

After my first week, I would realize the pueblo-like atmosphere my study abroad advisor spoke of, as I visited the Albayzín and Sacromonte, which harbored white stucco houses seemingly embedded into a mountain amidst the flamenco strumming of a gitano guitarist. I realized the eclecticism of Granada, having embarked into modernity yet retaining its authenticity and antiquated culture. Even so, the Alhambra and the Arab baths spoke of the Moorish influences, which mixed in with this globalized city center and the Spanish authenticity of the Gypsy quarters. It’s difficult to describe Granada to someone who has never visited it, but this sense of ineffability is common to all study abroad returnees who fall in love with their host city while becoming residents and not simply transient tourists. One forms expectations of their study abroad experience; however, these expectations, built from by proxy of others’ experiences and countless Wikipedia articles and travel blogs, are put on trial once you actually see it for yourself. Here lies the adventure of study abroad––that you are subject to the unexpected and the spontaneous.

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  1. I’m loving the Granadino graffiti…!

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Flashback to our Fall API student's first days in Spain. Madrid orientation with our friends from api_granada, Salamanca guided tour, and lunch tapas (+first days of classes!)

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📷 by @api_salamanca
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