Granada: What Happens After the Program Ends?

Mary Diduch is a student at Lawrence University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Mary is currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain, on an ISA Fall 2A program.

The pier in Málaga

What happens when the suitcases of your friends are packed up? What happens when the family you usually spend Christmas with is halfway across the world? What happens when you don’t have to wake up for those 8:30am classes anymore? Well… let me tell you. You thought you had time to think before; it’s a whole different ball game now.

I chose to spend about ten extra days in Granada after our program ended. I didn’t think it would be too bad seeing people leave. But imagine seeing the people with whom you’ve developed such close relationships leave over and over again. It’s not very easy. Especially being in the intensive month (I arrived in Spain at the end of August and participated in language intensive classes all of September, which I highly suggest if you are looking into this program), 40 of us American students were forced to get extremely close, with traveling on the excursions and classes and ISA meetings and gatherings. Now, I can’t imagine some of this people not in my life.

My roommate and I in the Sahara Desert on the Morocco excursion

I was especially blessed to have such an amazing roommate. She’s from California, I’m from Illinois, and somehow we were brought together in Granada, Spain. Talk about the chances! It’s interesting how exploring all over Spain has made me realize how little I know about my home country. I look forward to visiting my friends from California and Colorado, to Wisconsin and Michigan, to see more of the good ol’ U.S.A.

I was also lucky enough to spend the holidays with not only another family, but another family from a different country with different traditions and ways. My host family in Granada welcomed me with open arms. It made me realize that every family really has the same idea, and that is, we are in fact family. There’s always the stressful environment of the kitchen, there’s always some cousin rolling their eyes behind another cousin’s back, and there’s always that one uncle who keeps pouring everyone more classes of wine. As much as it’s so hard to ignore the stressful parts of the holidays sometimes, we have to remember, the food is pointless, the Christmas music in the background doesn’t matter, and the presents are useless. As long as you are with your family, the people who will always love you, that is the true meaning of the holidays.

Granada on Christmas Day

To say the least, the decision to study abroad has been one of the best decisions of my entire life. If you have the opportunity to experience a different part of the world, or even a different part of your home country, I highly encourage it. You will make great friends, have great memories, and your mindset will change.

And did I mention Granada is the best place to go? (Slightly kidding, but just study abroad — PLEASE!)

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