Breaking Routine: the Atypical Everyday of Study Abroad

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.

Awaking to the chattering in Spanish and the beaming sun, I realized anew each morning that I wasn’t in my university’s residence hall, in a state in which I was born and reared; rather, I was in the antiquated and urbane Granada, the Moorish gem of Andalucía, living in a residencia situated in the city-center, wherein the majority of the students spoke little English.

Alhambra - Delsy Ordonez

Again, I would be reminded of my location when I entered the common kitchen to help myself to toast, jam, marmalades, and espresso. The absence of bacon and eggs startled me each morning. No longer was breakfast heralded as the most important meal of the day. Instead, espresso accompanied by tostada spackled with grape jam needed to sustain me until two in the afternoon, whereupon the largest meal of the day, consisting of three courses, occurred; then, there commenced a two-hour siesta, or colloquially known in the US as a food coma.

At breakfast, Paula normally ate with me; our class schedules must have been similar. Despite my drowsiness, I mustered some Spanish words and phrases, asking about her plans for the day. Since I generally had classes with other API students, they came in as well, along with other Spanish students. A mixture of English and Spanish filled the room––some tones more vibrant than others. After breakfast, I walked the short stroll to class with other API students, passing Roman ruins, statues that commemorated Spanish heroes and heroines, the API Granada office, and the frequent orange tree, which is a touchstone of Andalucían décor. Arriving at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, I was always fascinated by its history, having been the Palace of Santa Cruz of the 16th century now renovated into a satellite campus of the Universidad de Granada.

Centro de Lenguas Modernas, Granada - Delsy Ordonez

Enrolled in courses taught in Spanish, I found that each day I was able to understand the professors a smidge more. They spoke slower and with clear elocution, as opposed to the more everyday, dense dialect of the Granadinos. After two classes, I returned for lunch, whereupon I had ample opportunities to practice Spanish or enjoy a respite from the mind-translation by sitting with other API students. The rest of the day was either spent exploring new areas of the city or basking under the fresh rays in Federico García Lorca park. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner and then a night out to an unvisited tapas bar.

Flamenco Steps Palladium - Ryan Mason

I never wanted to draw out a routine; rather, I enjoyed the dissimilar days spent in various neighborhoods of the city, intending to get lost and chance upon a memory. Each day, I became more acclimated to my surroundings; however, there were numerous moments wherein one feels exceeding satisfaction for having taken the leap into such an off-kilter semester, venturing into a foreign place. The returns of the investment are rich and innumerable. It’s difficult to articulate a typical day abroad because each is tinged by a unique experience that makes it unlike the one previous. One weekend you will be exploring your host city and the next you’ll be embarking on an API international excursion. This ability to break from routine and to jive to a different drumbeat is only possible in study abroad; and, it’s the reason why each returnee defines his or her college, or even life, experience in terms of it.

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Comments

  1. i love this – it’s the unexpected, the mundane in another life, that brings us joy.

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