Well I’ve been in Granada for a couple of days now, and I’ve been able to adjust to the city some more. I’ll commence the unfocused mental dump of my observations from the last few days:

  • Granada feels way more urban than I had expected. I thought it would be a small to medium-sized town like Fort Collins, but it’s about twice the size of that – around 250,000 people. I’ve been saying for a while that I’d like to try living in a big city, and while Granada is pretty small relative to Denver, Phoenix or Madrid, it’s still way more urban than anywhere I’ve lived before. Maybe it’ll make for a good trial of a somewhat larger city before taking the plunge into a city of millions.
  • Living in an old city with old streets is a very – well, foreign – concept. It’s obvious that there was no master planner in Granada, and it’s really easy to make a wrong turn that takes you way farther away from your destination than you had intended. I’ve gotten lost several times but the major streets and landmarks in the city center are starting to become familiar. I know enough to get home and get to class 😀
  • The weather here is abnormally cold. It snowed yesterday, which is very rare. Many, many scarves. I’ll probably pick up the trend this weekend.
  • Because of the crappy weather, I haven’t bothered to go anywhere near La Alhambra yet. I want to tour it when the weather is just a bit better.
  • Going out tonight for the first time, not counting the pool hall I went to in Madrid. I’ve heard good things about the nightlife here, so I’ll have to report back on that.
  • I have one class for the next three weeks. It’s four hours long every day, with two profesoras that teach for two hours each. Neither of them know a word of English (or at least they claim) and it’s not allowed to define or translate an English word for another student – we have to try to define the word we have in mind in Spanish. It’s more difficult, and after several hours of this  my brain definitely starts to hurt. We won’t be learning any new grammar in our class, but instead will be reviewing everything we’ve learned and perfecting it in order to correct all of the little mistakes. It’s exactly what I need, so it’ll be hard, but I’ll be glad I did it by the end of the month. After that I’ll advance a level and take my semester classes one level up.
  • I’m resisting the temptation to eat at Burger King. My roommate went there today and he says it’s better than it is in the States. I’m going to guess that I’ll cave in in another day or two.
  • Everything they say about learning a language by studying abroad is definitely true. Being around it all  for just a week has helped me to pick up so much, and I’ve met a few students who were here for the last semester that are excellent with the language.
  • My English writing has gotten sigificantly worse because my mind keeps trying to form sentences in Spanish structures.
  • In the last day or so I’ve started correcting myself constantly, even mid-sentence. I think it’s good that I’m thinking about the “little rules” that I so often break, but at the same time it’s probably annoying to try and carry on a  conversation with someone who can barely complete their sentences.
  • Spanish food is hearty and healthy. I’m still adjusting to the meal schedule but the food is great (and it’s nice to not have to find a million restaurants of varying quality and prices, like we had to for the first week). It is a bit more bland than some of my favorite foods, like Mexican or Thai, which definitely are a bit more strong in their tastes. I’ll have to go in search of some cayenne or something.
  • Starting to look at plans for my ~10 day break after the intensive month class is over. Ryanair is amazingly cheap, I can fly from Granada to Italy for like… 4 euro. I don’t have a huge list of “must-sees” for while I’m here, but I would like to see Belgium, Prague, Rome, maybe Amsterdam. Overall I’d like to stick to Spain, though. I don’t like the idea of spending lots of time in a place where I don’ know any of the language.
  • Before getting to Granada, I definitely felt like more of an observer than a participant in Spanish life. I’m starting to blend in a bit more and I’m sure that within a couple of weeks it will just come naturally to me.
  • Navigating streets and crowded areas is pretty strange – there really isn’t much of a concept of personal space here. I’m noticing little things I do to get out of others’ way that nobody else does, and realizing how funny it must look. I normally have great “crowd navigation skills” but here people have different fixed habits of which side to move to when you’re in someone’s way, and other things too.

3 comments

  1. I loved reading your initial thoughts about Granada, Zeke, and just had to make a few comments.

    Scarves! People there wear lots of scarves even when it isn’t cold out. In fact, both times I went to Granada, I bought a scarf. I love them, wear them often.

    Good luck finding hot peppers. Spaniards do not eat spicy food. I hope you have better luck than our friends in Jerez, who have taken to bringing peppers from home. Maybe your mom can bring you a care package!

    Be sure to add up all the fees that go with your 4-euro Ryannair ticket! It’s certainly a bargain airline, but be aware that a flight will cost significantly more than the advertised “ticket price.”

    What part of town are you living in? Where are your classes?

    –Beth

  2. Hola, Beth!
    I’m living in the southwestern part of the city, which is the more modern and less touristy part, so except for some old churches and statues I haven’t seen much historical stuff here – more shopping districts and the like (which are still pretty interesting because of European fashion and such). I think the plan is to check out the Albayzin district once the weather clears up a little more.
    And I’m finding Spanish cooking really good, so the lack of spice is just a little problem. There’s a Mexican restaurant near my classes, I’ll have to try it out and see if they’ve managed to find anything spicy. I don’t have high expectations of it here, though.
    Oh, and thanks for the Ryanair tip 🙂

  3. Hi Zeke! I have the weather site marked for Madrid marked on my phone, so everyday I check the weather in Spain. I’d noticed how cold it was, and wondered if that was unusual. There have been times where it’s been warmer here than there, in the past week, which surprised me!

    I feel very lucky to be able to check your blog, and not just rely on phone or letters to stay in touch. I love the photos you’ve shared so far. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mail food, but I will ask at the post office re: cayenne. I will send a package within a few days. If there’s anything special you’d like me to send, let me know! Lots of love, yr mama

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