An interview with Kelley Wollack, a student at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a Summer 2015 ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Málaga, Spain.
1. Describe the place where you studied abroad in 150 words or less.
Nestled between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea on the Costa del Sol is the ancient city of Málaga. I know that sounds dramatic but it’s true! Over thousands of years Malaga has been home to Moorish Sultans, the Roman Empire, Pablo Picasso, and Antonio Banderas. And it could be your home too. There are two large shopping districts, a busy port, small cafes and amazing restaurants. So much to do and see! At the top of the mountain surrounding the city is the Alacazaba, the Muslim palace. In the city center is the Cathedral. Winding streets that open up to the sea made for a truly magical experience with adventure to be had every day.
2. What was your day-to-day life like as a student?
Day-to-day life as a student was pretty normal, but incredibly awesome. I went to class in the mornings until about noon every day. Got fresh fruit at the market and a espresso during my breaks from class. After the bus back from school, I would stop at the beach for a couple of hours before lunch. I built up a pretty nice tan for a red head I must say. I would return home for lunch with my senora which was always stellar and abundant. I would immediately be put into a food coma so I could take a siesta. Wake up refreshed and meet up with my friends to study, sip an afternoon cafe or explore the city. Around sun set we would sit down at our favorite spot for tapas in the square. Watch the people walking around, chat and enjoy the Spanish life was our favorite way to relax before heading home for dinner with our families.
3. What was the “vibe” of your city?
The best way I can describe Malaga is a small big city. It is small enough to meet people and see them weekly. But big enough to meet and see new people every day. It has a good mix of Spanish and international people. Malaga’s port has cruise ships stop for the day so there are tourists. But, once you get a few blocks away from the shopping district and port you can find the locals in Malaga.
Malaga is a pretty traditional Spanish city. They eat lunch and dinner late, they take siestas and they fill the streets at night no matter what day it is. The locals are warm and embracing people who great you with “dos besos” and a smile. It is a pretty casual relaxed city. The locals aren’t in a hurry and are more concerned with enjoying life than rushing here and there.
4. What types of activities did you do with your friends in your city?
The friends I made in my program were amazing women. We hung out and explored the city every day. Our favorite things to do together was go out and try new places and foods to eat. We grabbed a cafe con leche everyday during our breaks from class. During the rest of the day we would go to the beach and relax, swim and catch up on how our day was going. The shopping is great in Malaga. From high end stores (which I window shopped a lot at) to local designers, it has every type of store you would want or need. The city has many museums and historical sites to visit. There is just so much to do! Mountains, beach, shops, restaurants, plazas; this city has it all.
5. How much Spanish was spoken your city (as opposed to Catalan, English, Arabic, Basque, Klingon, etc)?
There was a lot of Spanish spoken. In the tourist areas, like the port and main shopping street, there were many English speakers. However, once you get a couple of blocks off those streets, there is much more spanish spoken. The Andalucian accent is hard to understand at first. The people in the city drop the end of some of their words on top of having the Spanish lisp. Formal Spanish would “Buenos dias.” They drop the “s” on the end of the words so it sounds like”bueno dia.” But, after the first week it is easy to figure out what they are saying. Eventually, you pick up on how to speak in the accent too.
6. How many hipsters did you see in your city?
There were a few but I would not describe Malaga as having a large hipster population. Their fashion is on point and the spots they hang out at are awesome. But, there aren’t that many hipster hang outs.
7. Did you visit other cities in Spain? If so, what would say made your city unique? Why should a someone study there.
I visited different cities in Spain every weekend during my stay. What made my city unique was the mix of old and new, traditional and modern, Spanish and international. In my opinion, Malaga had the warmest people and the most to do. It had history, food, beaches, mountains and adventure. If you are looking to get an experience that isn’t a large metropolitan city when you study abroad, I would recommend Malaga. I am so happy with my experience in Malaga and will remember it for the rest of my life.
The world awaits… discover it.