Hello there! My name is Cameron Franks and I am a student from Oklahoma spending the semester in Granada, Spain. I am studying abroad in order to complete the requirements for a Spanish degree from Oklahoma State University; go cowboys! This is my blog, in which I will share my experiences as I embark on a journey across the globe for four short, or long, months. Lucky you all, you’ll be right along with me; getting the best of the best… and maybe some of the worst too! Here goes nothing!!
I’ve spent just over a week and I can’t tell if I feel like I’ve done a lot, or a little! I have been busy everyday it seems like, and still there is constantly another person or event vying for my time and attention. It can be overwhelming! Since there is a large variety of activities available in Granada and I have tried to seek out something new everyday. I was under the weather for a couple days upon arrival, but I still attempted to make the extra effort to go shopping, try a new restaurant, or see somewhere new. Parsing through my daily notes is going to be a challenge, but I’ll see what I can come up with for this journal!! Experiencing so much newness in a little over seven days will be difficult to relay in a blog of a few hundred words, but I will attempt to describe some of the activities I have already participated in.
I would say I am coping well… upon arrival we were equipped with a debriefing with the do’s and don’ts of the country, as well as a couple tips and tricks to survive the upcoming adventure. This lecture has proved very useful for the past week!! When I was dropped off at my new home, I was greeted by my host mother with the typical Spanish greeting of going cheek to cheek with someone. The encounter was a bit awkward I must say… but I think I’m getting the hang of it. My family is wonderful. They take very good care of my brothers and I, Carson and Pablo. Our dad is a chef and our mother a schoolteacher. They eat lunch with us, but not dinner. The Spanish schedule is quite bizarre for Americans getting accustomed, I might say. According to them, eating dinner at 8:00pm, as we do, is very early. They typically eat at around 10pm. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, partially due to the siesta, a two to four hour break in which stores clothes, school pauses, and people return home to pause the day. People fuel up at lunch to face the second half of the day I suppose!! But the rumors are true, I can confirm, siesta is a real thing in which you can take naps, hang out, or do whatever you need to… maybe even a homework assignment or two before class resumes!
My new brother, Pablo, casually told me he was leaving for Germany the next day to stay for a week with friends. At first I was shocked to hear this, but during a discussion with other students about the occurrence, we were informed that this is a typical European habit! Many people travel within and around Europe because the cost and time to travel is much less and way shorter. For the same distance you could travel in the US within one or two states, you can travel equally as much and visit several countries which include completely cultures and languages! It’s just not fair!!
While Pablo was moving through Germany, I was busy soaking up the city of Granada. Tons of people walk and bike here, people are outside at all hours of the day; from my 8am walk to class until my 11:30pm walk home! When I walk to class through the city I pass a river, several churches, and the city square! There are lots of fountains and plazas here. Lots of wide open places where children can play, people walk around, and food is served connecting to streets in which you can barely fit two people on the sidewalk- if there even is one! If you make your way through the city to the right place, you will find yourself in the Albaicin, a historic neighborhood in Granada that we toured. Here we visited a teteria, or tea house. After we had toured the Albaicin we continued to the village of Sacromonte, where many people live in houses carved from caves! The cobblestone roads with a river down in the valley overlooking the Alhambra across the hills, the mountains in the background, and the city in front of you is a picturesque view of Spain. Back down inside the city of Granada I discovered a Dunkin Donuts and Burger King as well as several local music shops. I have already witnessed a demonstration within the city, several flamenco performances, and people practicing to carry a float for Holy Week (a privilege, my mom said). Additionally, I was able to tour a cave house when I returned to Sacromonte for the festival celebrating the patron of Granada, San Cecilio. I entered a church on the mountain top and they had a relic on display there. As you walk back down you will continue to encounter lots of fountains, buildings on buildings on buildings, and people eating tapas, typically a mid meal snack.
I thought I had conquered the city with my mental maps but literally just last night I learned that I have a false sense of pride and security in knowing I can navigate the city. I hadn’t been “technically lost” in the city yet… more so “slightly unaware” of my location. But yesterday after I decided to cautiously enter the realm beyond my comfort zone I became officially lost; I’ll admit it! Don’t worry though, all is well. This endeavor resulted in me sipping a chocolate milkshake at a Bavarian Jazz Cafe, so I’d say the conclusion was much sweeter than the disaster that ensued. I guess I would say I can navigate well the parts of the city that I frequent the most, but I wouldn’t feel confident giving a tour beyond that without cell service.
Overall, I would say the week has been fantastic! Granada, I’d give you a 10/10 review!! Hopefully the rest of the semester follows suit. Anyway, thank you for reading!! The churros con chocolate were delicious, the pace of the city was inviting, and the scenery beautiful. I feel like this blog is a bit of me trying to describe the indescribable, because it’s really just something you have to be here to see and feel. There are many differences… it’s impossible for me to identify them all. In light of this, I will continue trying my best to explain how it feels to be here!!
Also, I would like to give credit to several of my tech savvy friends including Ashley and Lexi, whose photos I will be using for this blog, as I am not a talented photographer! They have kindly allowed me to use her material for this blog. Both are very skilled with a lens in hand and I am grateful that she has offered me their art.