I’ve reached the two-week mark in my study abroad program in Granada (Muslims in the West), and, as I’m sure you’ve heard in many other posts, it’s going by so quickly! As overwhelming as it was having only 7 days to graduate, move out of my apartment, travel home, pack for Europe, and attend my eldest sister’s Masters graduation before getting on the plane to Granada, I was lucky enough to feel settled in and ready to go a few days into my program. To explain my initial emotions, thoughts, etc, here’s a list of my “first’s” in Granada.
“First’s” in Granada
My very first emotion while in Granada: shame.
Shame at how bad my Spanish has gotten! I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and did really well in it too, but I hadn’t really practiced Spanish for another 5 years while in college. And my sad lack of vocabulary was apparent as soon as I arrived in the airport and tried to ask where baggage claim was. What’s the word for “luggage” in Spanish again? How about “bag” or “flight?” My high school Spanish teacher who gave me the departmental award for Spanish would be ashamed. Tsk, tsk. Here’s some advice that I should’ve tried harder to implement the semester before my study abroad program: watch/listen to TV or radio shows in your host country’s language over an extended period of time before going abroad! It’s an easy way to get familiar with the language or refresh your knowledge of it.
My very first meal while in Granada: shawarma.
Seriously, a halal shawarma! You may not have guessed, right? Something a lot of people may not know about the (if I may say so) grossly underrated and beautiful city of Granada is the strong degree of it’s Islamic history and heritage. I’m not trying to say all the Muslims from Al-Andalus (also known as Muslim Spain, though Spain was technically founded after 1492) ate shawarmas back then in 711 CE, but there are a lot of North-African and Moroccan Spanish citizens here, and also a lot of shawarmas here. It’s awesome. If anyone goes to the Albaycin area of Granada, here’s some advice on where to get the best and cheapest shawarma from the friendliest staff: Marchica Shawarma- Calle Elvira, 72, 18010 Granada, Spain
My very first field trip in Granada: The Alhambra Palace
This is the main attraction in Granada, and for good reason. The Alhambra is an ancient fortress (and later used as a palace as well) built in the Nasrid Kingdom of Islamic Spain in the mid 1200’s. The Alhambra’s historical and cultural legacy is extremely important, as it was the very place where the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, *strategically* held their procession after taking over Al-Andalus. Moreover, the Alhambra was not only where Christopher Columbus asked Queen Isabella to sail to the Americas, but also was what the Alhambra Decree, AKA Edict of Expulsion (which ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Spain) was named after. Clearly, the Alhambra and Granada together are important references to the historical roots of colonialism. Despite this dark history however, the Alhambra’s is an architectural masterpiece, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful! I’m definitely going to be back here before I leave Granada.