The City of Artists
Granada is a beautiful city for artists. This enchanting city is home to lots of graffiti, architecture, art, music, dancing, and poetry. Music is always heard throughout the city with people singing and playing instruments. Flamenco music can be heard in the city accompanied by dancers with bright red and pink flamenco dresses.
Granada has many unique landmarks like the Albacín, Alhambra, and colorful graffiti. The Albacín, the Moorish area of the city is a unique uphill cobblestone street with beautiful Moroccan shops. These uphill streets lead up to Mirador San Nicholas which has a perfect view of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains and at sunset, this beautiful view is painted with gorgeous pink and orange skies.
Famous poets like Francisco Garcia Lorca make references to this enchanting city with verses like “Alhambra, jasmine of sorrow where the moon rests.” The Alhambra walls are covered in beautiful Arabic Quranic verses and poetry and the most famous quote written throughout the Alhambra is “ولا غالب إلا الله”, which in English means “There is no victory without God.” Generalife is the garden next to the Alhambra with running water and peaceful designs. Running water and fountains can be seen throughout the Alhambra and Generalife because water is an important part of Islam representing the purification of the mind and body.
Cities in Spain
Each city has its own story. Granada has a cozy feel to it with its small size and lots of graffiti from el Nino de las Pinturas, also known as Raul Ruiz. Even when I visit another country or city for the weekend, when I return, I feel like I am coming back home. It seems like stuff is going on all the time. Los Italianos (the best ice cream place in Granada) always has a line until midnight when it closes, and once I saw people watching Legally Blonde in the Albacín.
Seville is another city I love. People in Seville have so much pride in their city. One of my favorite things I did was watch a soccer game in Seville. The crowd had so much energy and kept cheering for their team. It was an amazing game, and Seville won against Almeria.
La Alpujarra was one of my favorite ISA excursions. La Alpujarra are the south slopes of the Sierra Nevada. We went on a 5-hour hike. I loved the nature and the stars could be seen so clearly at night.
Reflections on Being a Minority Abroad
The nature and slower paced lifestyle in Spain is inspirational. I am inspired to write, to learn history, and to want to be creative. Traveling allows me to learn new things, think clearly, and be patient. Being abroad and traveling is amazing, but it can be difficult because not many minorities get the opportunity to travel abroad.
So many times when traveling, I find that not many people look like me or share my culture. It seems as if many minorities may not feel like it is realistic to go abroad. Although at times being the only Arab-American person was challenging, it is an amazing experience. I faced challenges because Europe is not as diverse and accepting as the United States, and many people have stereotypes about Arabs. But I found that way more people are friendly than rude, and it just took a while to get used to, coming from the diverse city of Houston.
With the challenges also came many amazing moments. I made some of my closest friends here and had some of the best moments of my life. It has had its ups and downs, but studying abroad has taught me so much about history, cultures, languages, and people and I grew so much personally and academically.
Samma Elhammady is a student at University of Houston and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Granada, Spain.