The End of an Adventure: Final Reflections

I have been collecting pieces of Spain in the form of photographs, videos, souvenirs, and journal entries. I remember walking in this city and everything looking so new and unfamiliar, but now the Sierra Nevada mountains, Alhambra, and Granada landmarks are sights I see almost every day. Now that it is May and I know I am about to leave, I see all the beauty in the city that I first noticed and look at everything like it is going to disappear. I only have a few weeks left until it’s time to leave and I am trying to enjoy every moment, every sunset, every cup of coffee, churros and chocolate, and gelato ice cream. 

Granada is an amazing place to study and students from all over the world come to study here. I came to Spain to learn Spanish culture and language and am leaving with more pieces of new languages and cultures. I met international students and learned how to say “Nice to meet you” in Italian and “How are you” in Romanian. I learned how to cook my favorite Moroccan dish called pastilla, too. I saw the world through the eyes of other people and saw their passion for their country and their language. 

I know I am living in my favorite memories. I appreciate everything this city has to offer because I am only here for a short time. Things like walking everywhere, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the 9 P.M. sunsets. I have had so many amazing memories in Spain like going for hikes, traveling to the beach, and watching sunsets. But with all these amazing times also came difficulties with the language, culture, and loneliness.

Language is extremely difficult to learn because English is a very international language making it difficult to be immersed in Spanish. Language is also so frustrating because I can do well in class and understand Spanish shows and videos but then when I eat dinner in my dorms, people are talking too fast. I can’t understand overlapping chatter in Spanish, and I find myself getting lost in conversations with my Spanish friends. Some days I feel like I can speak well and spend my day speaking Spanish, and other days I am overwhelmed by how much I do not know and struggle with basic conversation. Secondly, Spanish culture is fun and laid back but siesta time makes it difficult to go to places after class because everything is closed from around 1-4 P.M.. Finally, I never really felt alone abroad because there is so much stuff to do, but during holidays and breaks, I miss home a lot. During my semester here, I spent Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, without my family for the first time which was difficult at first because I usually have meals with my family and then go to the mosque in my city during this month.

I learned and grew from all these struggles and through difficulty comes ease. As far as the language, with time I began to understand a lot and would be able to have conversations with new people, ask for directions, and get by in Spanish. Culturally, I adjusted to siesta by taking a break in my day and learning to relax. During Ramadan, I went to the mosque in Granada. The mosque served food every night during Ramadan and One night the mosque served couscous which is one of my favorite meals.

I’ve learned and loved so much in Spain and am beyond grateful for this experience. There is a Spanish Quote that says “Uno siempre vuelve a los lugares donde amó a la vida” which means “Everyone comes back to the places they loved life.” And so, until next time Granada.

Samma Elhammady is a student at University of Houston and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Granada, Spain.

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