Judges Abroad is a series of blog posts written by Brandeis student-athletes who are spending part of their junior year studying abroad. To read more entries in the blog, click here!
Por última vez, ¡buenas!
As I sit here in the warm summer sun of Duxbury, I am happy to be back on my home turf cheering on my home team with my hometown friends who I have not seen in four and a half months. While the weight of classes and maneuvering around a new city using a foreign language has now been lifted, I can’t help but feel a pull back to Granada.
The final weeks were stacked to try and fit in everything that my friends and I wanted to do, or wanted to do one last time. From having one more slice of the most incredible carrot cake at one of our favorite restaurants, Terra, to taking a beach day down to the nearby beach town Nerja, to having one last sunset picnic in the Albaycín neighborhood, our final weeks were unforgettable. We had our final Mediterranean Ecosystems field trip to the La Peza region just northeast of Granada to study fire ecology that was incredibly relevant considering the recent massive fires out in California. We also attended our last performance for Contemporary Spanish Theatre which was a cabaret-circus fusion show and probably my favorite of the other five performance we saw over the course of the semester.
May is also filled with celebrations in Granada including Día de la Cruz, or “Day of the Cross”, that is celebrated only in Granada on the 3rd of May. There are music and dance performances throughout the city and beautifully decorated patios and crosses to admire. There were people flooding the streets (more than usual!) in brightly colored flamenco dresses and music playing on all corners. We also had the opportunity to hike a bit in the Sierra de Huétor to admire the natural land so close to Granada and to see some trenches left from the Spanish Civil War. After having lunch right under the massive Sierra Nevadas that still had snow on the peaks even in late May, we took a quick ride over to the nearby town of Alfacar where we had a mini bread-making session at the family-run bakery Pan de Manolo. We made pan de aceite, or olive oil bread, that is typical in Andalucía. This is not surprising considering Andalucía is the largest producer of olive oil in the world. While waiting for our creations to rise, we tested some of their other pastry products, including a treat typical of Semana Santa, or Holy Week, called Leche frita, or literally “Fried milk”. It reminded me of soggy french toast, so I enjoyed the flavor but the texture was something I was not particularly fond of.
Something I appreciate even more so now that I have returned to the US, is that Granada gave me the ability to wear so many different hats all at the same time. I was offered a completely clean slate and I filled it with so many different aspects of my interests. While this opportunity was given at the start of college, it felt completely different having already opened up myself to find my voice and academic focus. I got to continue my passion for the environment with my Ecosystems course, for international studies with my Spain and the European Union course, and refined my Spanish skills in the required Spanish grammar course. However, I also got to be an actress for a semester in my Theatre course and an art historian in my Islamic Art and Architecture of Spain course. Instead of just a volleyball player, I was an (incredibly) amateur soccer player during our weekly pickup games with other students from my program, a frequent foodie testing out all the different tapas places my friends, and a big sister for my host mom’s adorable grandkids.
I am happy to be eating a big American breakfast as opposed to a couple pieces of toast, there is little that I do not miss. While I can easily recreate the Spanish breakfast, I still dream about my host mom’s garlic aioli with the most perfectly cooked potatoes and roasted veggies and miss seeing the Alhambra every day walking to school. It was surreal walking out of my host mom’s apartment for the very last time, however one of the many aspects of Spanish life that I appreciate is instead of saying “adiós”, or “goodbye”, you say “hasta luego” or “see you later”. No matter if you are quickly passing through a store or parting ways with someone you’ve been staying with for the past four months, it’s always “hasta luego”.
So to you, Granada, I say hasta luego and I do truly hope to see you again soon.