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A wintry escape to the south of Spain

In January of 2023, I was fortunate enough to fly off to Granada in the south of Spain for a short language intensive course at la Universidad de Granada.

The classes at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas were incredibly engaging right from the start. Every weekday we had four hours of classes in the morning, with the time split between two teachers who swapped over during our morning tea break. The chance to learn from two different teachers was invaluable, as each provided a different perspective on the language, with differing styles of teaching keeping us on our toes.

Having the opportunity to spend four straight hours using only Spanish forced us to keep focused and find a way to communicate our ideas, even if we didn’t have the words to express ourselves yet. Most of the classes had a range of students from different countries, with my class having about half of the students from America, half from Japan, and an Italian student and myself. As such, we only had Spanish as a means of communication as not everyone had experience in studying English. This turned out to be such an asset, as it is often far too easy to rely on speaking English when surrounded by English speakers.

That’s my number one tip for any students planning to go on an international experience: surround yourself with students who don’t speak English as a native language so you can focus on your target language. I also found this levelled the playing field, as we all had similar levels of Spanish, and all felt comfortable making mistakes or tripping over words.

Outside of the classroom, we had various tours and excursions planned for us, allowing us to learn more about the history of the city and the surrounding area (plus we didn’t need to do much organising of tours ourselves!). The tours ranged from visiting la Alhambra, which is an absolute must-do if visiting Granada. The history of the city is so rich, and it was fascinating to see this incredibly well-preserved aspect of Islamic culture. We also visited nearby cities including Sevilla y Córdoba, which gave us all further insight into the history of the area and how things have changed over previous centuries.

Perhaps the most interesting part for me related to the cultural aspects of Spanish cuisine, with almost all dishes including some sort of meat. This was pretty tricky for me to deal with as someone who doesn’t eat meat, but after learning about some of the history of Spain I could see how changes in the ruling power of the Iberian Peninsula over the last millennia still influence so much of Spanish food and culture.

I cannot recommend visiting Granada enough. If you have the opportunity to study there, or ever find yourself travelling through Spain, definitely book in a few weeks in the south of Spain.

¡Que tenga un viaje Seguro y feliz!

Peter Rugg

Global Short Program Student 

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