Email Address:

Phone Number:

Study Abroad Blog

Flight Credit Get a Flight Credit worth up to $1,250 when you apply with code* by June 30, 2023

The Language Barrier: Terrifying, Interesting, but Mostly Entertaining

Studying abroad is a pretty crazy experience, but studying abroad in a country with a different language… wow. Coming into this year, I knew I had a solid Spanish foundation, but I had no clue what my day to day interactions would look like here when it came to the language. Would I speak Spanish with my host family? Would I understand people speaking? Would those people understand me? (*Yes, usually, and most of the time)
 View from the top of Malaga's Alcazaba. Traveling within Andalucia has helped me learn about my own Spanish abilities as well as the variations of Spanish within Spain.
 Another shot of the Alhambra (the Alcazaba). I can't start an article about Granada without a picture of this amazing monument. I still can't believe I live near things like this!

I’ve realized it takes time to get comfortable with your new language, like with your host family, friends, or professors, and that adjustment looks different depending on where you are. For me, I had to learn that the Spanish in Granada is different than most other Spanish. For example, Granada natives speak “Granadino”, which means that the "s" usually gets left out and many words get combined to make new words. This makes comprehending Spanish difficult at first, but it gets easier! To give you some extra insight, I asked some friends for their input on what have been the most difficult things about learning Spanish as a second language and some phrases/words that have been unexpectedly useful.
 If you practice your Spanish for only one reason, it should be that the flavors at Los Italianos Gelateria are listed in Spanish.

Difficulties with Spanish

“It’s easy to learn the basics of a language, but it’s much harder to learn to speak a language naturally and precisely.”   -Melissa L.

“Things like idiomatic expressions and different ways of using sarcasm have been really difficult.” -Megan K.

“I learned Spanish from teachers from South America, so for me it’s been the differences in vocabulary between Spain and South American Spanish.” -Kaylee L.

 Wooden sculpture along the coast in Malaga. Though only two hours apart, Malaga and Granada are very different. I especially enjoyed comparing the Malaga accent to Granada's.

Phrases we use regularly

  • “AY de mi”
  • “No me digas”
  • “En serio?!”
  • “Madre mía”
  • “Hasta luego” --> “-ta luego” in Granadino
  • Instead of “Por favor, me gustaría…” in a restaurant, use “Me pone...”
  • “Como estas” --> “Qué va?” or “Qué tal?”
  • The word for “to drive” is “conducir” not “manejar”, the word for “car” is “coche” not “carro”
  • “Estoy lleno/a!”, said politely but firmly to turn down more food from your host mom

A book fair in Malaga! Reading your favorite books in Spanish helps your speaking, reading, writing, and grammar skills improve. Obviously these are just a few, but it’s amazing how a few phrases can come up frequently throughout the day! I'd also encourage you to travel within Spain as much as possible, it's really interesting to hear the different Spanish dialects. As your time here goes by, you'll be amazed how much you progress as a speaker!

Megan V.  is the Fall 2017 CEA MOJO blogger in Granada, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Political Science and Spanish at the University of Tennessee.

Read more about our CEA Content Creators.
Load more comments
Thank you for the comment! Your comment must be approved first




Receive a $1,250 Flight Credit when you apply by June 30, 2023

Get your flight credit code and access to Passbook in two easy steps. With Passbook, you can track your favorite programs and courses, save flight credits, and watch videos on the destination you're interested in.

Apply Now

Step 1 of 2

Step 2 of 2

*By providing your mobile number, you agree to receive recurring text messages from CEA Study Abroad notifying you of important program deadlines. Message and data rates may apply.

Privacy Policy   |   Mobile Terms   |   Flight Credit Rules

Your flight credit has been added to your Passbook. Apply now or view your Passbook to begin the next step in your journey.