Taylor Anderson (University of Delaware).Independent Study: Fitting All the Pieces of the Puzzle Together
When I applied to study abroad, I was so excited. I couldn?t wait to get to Spain and live a life like Lizzie McGuire during her adventures in Rome. I remember registering for my classes in Spain and the minor speed bump I encountered when I found out one of the classes I needed wasn?t being offered. I clearly recall my advisor saying, ?Prof. Amalia PulgarÃn has been nice enough to offer to do an independent study with you to earn the credit!? I remember agreeing while half-listening to her. I couldn?t be concerned with an independent study at that point; I was too busy planning my future life abroad as a new world traveler. As always, reality eventually set in. During the first week of February the luxurious lifestyle I had dreamed of made way to classes and studying as the spring semester began. Amalia and I scheduled our first meeting to discuss my independent study. I still had absolutely no idea what to expect at this point. I can definitely say that I didn?t expect it to turn out as it did. Honestly, I don?t think Amalia did either. I remember sitting in her office on a Tuesday morning during my break between classes, which would soon become our regular meeting time. Amalia shared some of her ideas for the semester with me, starting with Santa Teresa de Jesus. As I started on my first assignment, my independent study began to snowball. The reading was interesting and sparked much conversation about Santa Teresa. Amalia began to think how great it would be to share this experience with other students in our program since it was a great opportunity to practice Spanish and discuss literature. Thus, the book club was born and I became the leader. At this point, I was still a little skeptical. I liked Santa Teresa but I wasn?t sure how it would go over in the book club. During our first meeting, we quickly learned this wasn?t the route we were going to take. Instead, we began to explore a variety of genres. We started with Celia by the poet Fernando Valverde. The conversation began flowing. Book club blossomed into a discussion of our likes and dislikes about poetry, then literature, then classes, then life. It became a time of debate and discussion. Amalia kept discovering different readings to appeal to our interests and fuel the fire; we decided on La Tesis de Nancy by RamÃ³n J. Sender. With this reading, we could each connect on a personal level with Nancy. Nancy was an American girl studying in Seville and encountering many of the same miscommunications and cultural misunderstandings that we were. Book club became a time of bonding as we opened up to personal discussions and shared our most embarrassing moments with one another. We laughed together as we munched on sweets (Amalia always made sure to have them handy for us!) and many times we went off on tangents about whatever topic. The most important thing for us was that we developed into Spanish-speaking students who could not only hold but direct an entire discussion amongst ourselves. The transformation was incredible as was the fact that we did this all together. Ironically, the International Festival of Poetry in Granada was being held during our last few weeks abroad. As a part of my independent study, Amalia gave me a variety of works by JosÃ© Hierro and Prof. Gordon McNeer (University of North Georgia). I had the chance to read these poems and reflect on them before attending a presentation honoring JosÃ© Hierro, where Prof. Gordon McNeer himself was a presenter. I was honored to be given this opportunity to experience such passion and expression from some of the most amazing poets. I was startled at the level of enthusiasm in the room; the majority of the room was made up of high school students. What surprised me the most was their questions at the end. These questions had to be some of the most deeply thought out questions I have ever heard. The level of emotion attached to each question really stuck with me; I was inspired by these students myself. Sadly, our final meeting for book club was scheduled for that night. As luck would have it, Amalia was able to get Prof. Gordon McNeer to come and talk with us. It was an absolutely amazing experience and one that will stay with me forever. Hearing a famous poet speak so passionately about his own work and being able to discuss these works with him in a foreign language was the most exhilarating experience. Through my experiences with my independent study, as leader of the book club and as an attendee to the Festival of Poetry in Granada, I was able to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Granada is a very proud city, rich in history and art. When you take the time to learn more about it, you can see how the past has affected and continues to affect the future. These amazing poets and writers are inspired by those of the past. They all fit together to make one Granada as a whole of the past, present and future. This semester has taught me more than anything that Granada has become a ?puente.? In Spanish, ?puente? means bridge. Granada has become a bridge for all these amazing experiences and people to encounter. It is a place of opportunity and learning and a place where you will never leave as the same person you came as.
Julie Malone (Stonehill College)
Este semestre ha sido más de lo que jamás podría haber imaginado. Pienso que es debido a Amalia y a Teresa. No todo el mundo tiene alguien apoyándola a lo largo del semestre pero nosotros teníamos a dos personas para ayudarnos y cuidarnos. Antes de llegar no podía tener una conversación con una persona en español, y tampoco escribir sin un traductor pero ahora puedo hacer las dos cosas. Sin GRIIS puedo decir sin duda que no habría aprendido como lo hice. Mis amigas en Barcelona, Salamanca y Sevilla hablan inglés en sus clases y no han aprendido el idioma como yo. Está claro que he cambiado en estos últimos meses. Nunca pensé que sería tan triste para mí marcharme de Granada. GRIIS ha creado un hogar aquí para nosotros.
Ronald Klepadlo (Saint Joseph's University)
Upon returning to the USA, people have continually asked me, How was Granada?? No word or explanation can summarize the experience in its entirety. I give lots of credit to GRIIS as they made this once in a lifetime experience the best it could be. GRIIS provided us with exceptional language preparation, many cultural opportunities, a small group environment, and much more. The most enjoyable aspect of GRIIS is the chance to live with a host family. From day one, I felt at home and part of their family. The relationship with my family is something that I will carry with me forever. I departed from Spain assured that there will always be a home for me in Granada. My piece of advice to anyone interested in GRIIS and Granada: Go. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make!
Jackie Roman (University of Delaware)
Con sólo dieciséis años, estaba segura de que un día estudiaría en España. Este sueño se convirtió en realidad al participar en el programa de GRIIS. Cada día desde que salí de Granada, sigo pensando en mis experiencias allí y cómo el programa ha mejorado mi vida para siempre. Aprendí sobre lengua, cultura, historia y en general, descubrí un nuevo estilo de vida. Además, conocí a personas fantáisticas en el programa que me ayudaron y siempre estuvieron abiertas a mis preocupaciones, y que ya tienen un espacio especial dentro de mi corazón. Ahora puedo decir que continuaré viviendo con una mente abierta a un mundo más grande gracias a GRIIS.
Nick Moffa (Boston College)
The intercambio program as a whole turned out to be one of the highlights of my entire experience in Granada. Meeting and speaking with her weekly not only gave me valuable experience in finding lesser-frequented spots with which only Spaniards are familiar, but also helped me vastly improve my Spanish as she challenged me to speak on a variety of topics and learn a lot of vocabulary I had never encountered previously. Aside from my host family, it was one of the ways that I learned the most about Spain, Spanish culture, Spanish cuisine, and Spanish history, and she quickly became one of my closest Spanish friends. I think the intercambio program GRIIS offers is a unique and incredible opportunity, and I would strongly encourage every student to participate!
Alexa Cometz (Boston College)
Antes de llegar en Granada, yo nunca había viajado afuera de los Estados Unidos sin mis padres y sólo tenía un conocimiento mediocre del español. Creo que me convertí en una adulta a través de todas mis experiencias en Granada. Aprendí una nueva idioma, una nueva cultura y todo de lo que soy capaz de hacer. Echo de menos a la gente, al CLM, al helado de Los Italianos, a la Alcaicería, a las tapas (aunque tenemos bares de tapas en Boston) y, sobre todo, a mi familia española, a quienes les debo tanto. Y quiero decir un gracias ENORME a Teresa y Amalia por ayudarme con el español, mis clases, mis enfermedades (jaja!) y todas las otras cosas misceláneas que necesité a lo largo de 5 meses.
Elizabeth Chegezy (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
I can truly say that GRIIS has made a real difference in my life. I have been fortunate enough to participate in both the summer and academic year programs and the fact that I have studied abroad with the Institute on more than one occasion is a real testament to the great work that GRIIS and Amalia do. Being able to study in Spain with such qualified professors as well as partake of the rich culture that is available to us is a very rewarding experience I am thankful that Ive been able to come to Granada because it really is amazing!
Hannah Desrochers (Simmons College)
"The decision to estudy abroad has been one of the best throughout my college career. Twice, I have studied with Granada Isntitute of International Studies. The first time, because it was a small program tht offered an excellent opportunity to advance my languege skills and understanding of Spanish history and culture. The second time, because GRIIS felt like family and I knew tht the experience would be excepcional".
Sam DeGiovanni (Boston College)
"Every study-abroad program can offer its students a bundle of unique opportunities. Som bad X, other had Y, but GRIIS seemed to have every I was looking for. With about 20 group menbers, we all benefited from a good deal of personal attention, socialized outside of the program, and made life long friendships. The city's unique size and flavor allowed me to get a comprehensive taste of Spanish culture -both past and present- -and a never- ending list of atractions. Perhaps most rewarding of all was life at home with my Spanish family, surely the best way to soak up what Spain's really made of. I left Granada certain I couldn't have chosen a more fiting and aducational backdrop for my semester abroad".
Laura Kiernan (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
"Tuve la oportunidad de pasar un año estudiando en Granada como parte de mis preparativos en el programa de Traducción e Interpretación de Monterey Institute of International Studies en California, y recomiendo el programa GRIIS sin reservas. Además de las herramientas técnicas de gramática y análisis que necesitaba para tener éxito en Montery, el tiempo en Granada me hizo crecer como persona y me cambió la vida por completo. Los profesores de GRIIS son realmente excelentes y la ciudad me abrió los brazos y me sorprendió con su arte, su belleza, su historia y sobre todo me regaló nuevas amistades".