Having left a snowy Vienna, I arrived in Granada expecting a little heat as one generally associates with southern Spain yet was met with a mere five degrees. At this moment I realised that this experience was going to be slightly different to what I had expected.
I arrived at my apartment hoping to dazzle the host, Raúl with the Spanish I’d learnt over two semesters at university. My, ‘Buenas Noches’ was met with a string of words that sounded like Spanish, none of which I caught. After seeing my face, Raúl explained (slowly) that he didn’t speak much English and asked if it would be okay if he explained the apartment in Spanish. To which I hesitantly replied “Sí” hoping I would be able to pick up enough words in each sentence to guess at what he was saying.
Upon his departure, I began to question whether my two semesters of Spanish would be enough to get me through the next three weeks. My apprehension continued around 30 minutes into my first class. After struggling through the first 30 minutes of continuous Spanish, I noticed the shared look of shock in most of the class.
Fast-forward two weeks and the difference in our facial expressions was undeniable. We settled into the four hours of daily intense Spanish and (mostly) understood everything our teacher was telling us about her plans for the upcoming Chinese New Year party in which she was going to attempt making dumplings. A strategy that has me thinking of the simple Spanish future tense whenever I eat dumplings.
Towards the end of my time in Granada, I found myself speaking in broken Spanish with my fellow classmates. An idea that was far from what I could have imagined on the first night when I was trying to understand Raúl asking for my passport.
My brief stay in Granada was one that drastically improved my Spanish but also my understanding of Spanish culture. Being home has been strange as I often catch myself wanting to greet and thank people in Spanish as this became second nature on my trip. Looking forward into the coming semester, I hope to continue my language skills both in and outside of the classroom. The opportunity to study in Granada was one that I will never forget and makes me even more excited for my In-Country Study in Spain in 2020.