A Journey of Discovery: Immersing Myself in Granada's Culture with CEA CAPA
Studying abroad with CEA CAPA was a pivotal chapter in my academic journey, presenting me with a plethora of lifechanging experiences that shaped my perspective. Throughout my time with CEA CAPA, I had the privilege to participate in captivating excursions and benefited from invaluable staff support, both of which played an instrumental role in my personal growth and cross-cultural competence.
One of the defining features of the CEA CAPA program is its meticulously-curated excursions, designed to provide students with immersive cultural experiences beyond the classroom. Among these excursions, my visit to the Alhambra stands out as a transformative moment. The Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a stunning testament to Moorish architecture nestled in the heart of Granada, Spain. Through guided tours and hands-on activities, I not only witnessed the architectural marvels but also connected deeply with the local culture.
Visiting the Alhambra! This was the end of our trip there but the best view.
Captivating Excursions: Unveiling Culture
The excursions were more than just sightseeing tours; they were gateways into the soul of the host country. Engaging with the local customs, interacting with residents, and partaking in authentic activities allowed me to understand the nuances of the culture in ways that textbooks couldn't convey. As a result, my horizons expanded, and I developed a heightened cross-cultural competence that proved invaluable during my study abroad and in all my subsequent endeavors.
Among the myriad of enchanting experiences during my time with CEA CAPA, exploring Granada and its neighboring treasures is a highlight. Traveling to Cordoba, a city steeped in history, was like stepping back in time. The mesmerizing blend of Islamic and Christian architecture in the form of the Mezquita-Catedral was a testament to Spain's diverse past. The rhythmic interplay of light filtering through the arches left an indelible impression, reminding me of the intricate tapestry of cultures that shaped this region.
My classmates and I had our first excursion through the Albayzin with the Alhambra behind us.
Of course, the crown jewel of these adventures was undoubtedly the visit to the Alhambra. A culmination of Islamic art and architecture, the Alhambra is a symphony of intricate geometric patterns, serene courtyards, and ornate gardens. The guided tour provided insights into the historical significance of each hall and courtyard while allowing us to appreciate the artistic mastery that adorned every corner. As I wandered through the Generalife Gardens, the fragrant blooms and meticulously manicured landscapes transported me to an era of opulence and refinement. These experiences were not just sightseeing; they were immersive lessons in history and culture that enriched my understanding of the region.
Additionally, the weekends provided the perfect canvas for creating unforgettable memories as I explored new destinations with the friends I made during my CEA CAPA journey. Whether it was venturing to charming nearby towns or embarking on thrilling city-hopping escapades, these weekend getaways amplified the sense of camaraderie among us. Sharing cultural discoveries, navigating foreign transit systems, and savoring local cuisines together forged bonds that transcended borders and enriched my study-abroad experience. These shared adventures deepened my study abroad friendships and reinforced the importance of embracing spontaneity and seeking adventure in every corner of the world.
I took a solo trip to Madrid on my last weekend in Spain. I only spoke Spanish and did it after gaining so much courage from the rest of my time abroad.
A short train ride away, Madrid, the capital city, beckons with its world-class museums like the Prado, vibrant neighborhoods, and iconic landmarks such as the Royal Palace. It's a hub of Spanish culture and history. I went alone and it was such an amazing experience. I ate amazing food and discovered beautiful architecture. On the southern coast, Nerja provides a refreshing escape with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the enchanting Nerja Caves. The town's picturesque streets and relaxed atmosphere offer a perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of Granada. When in Nerja, my friends and I kayaked in the Mediterranean Sea and it’s a memory I will never forget! Malaga, another coastal gem, offers a mix of cultural experiences, from its historic Alcazaba fortress to the modern Pompidou Centre. Malaga's vibrant nightlife and delicious seafood make it a great destination for students looking to unwind and enjoy the coastal lifestyle. My friend and I walked for hours in Malaga and never got bored. It was similar to Granada, but we loved it! These weekend trips not only allow students to explore the diverse regions of Spain but also provide opportunities for cultural immersion.
My friend Aliya and I kayaked in Nerja on a weekend trip! The Mediterranean Sea had the bluest water I ever saw!
Staff Support: Navigating Challenges and Embracing the Experience
Adapting to a new academic and cultural environment can be daunting, but the dedicated on-site staff at CEA CAPA provided unwavering support, proving to be a game-changer. Their guidance and mentorship were like a compass, helping me navigate the initial challenges and encouraging me to immerse myself in my host city fully. From assisting with administrative processes to offering advice on local customs, the staff's expertise was a lifeline for every student in the program.
I vividly recall the first few weeks of my study abroad when I was grappling with homesickness and adjusting to a different pace of life. The staff empathized with my feelings and provided practical solutions and a sympathetic ear. Their genuine care and commitment turned a potentially overwhelming experience into growth and self-discovery.
My CEA CAPA experience indelibly impacted my academic and personal journey. Through captivating excursions, I delved into the heart of the host country's culture, fostering cross-cultural competence and personal growth. Moreover, the unparalleled support of the onsite staff transformed potential challenges into opportunities for growth, ultimately enriching my study abroad journey. The more I opened myself to these immersive encounters, the more I learned about the culture and fell in love with its warmth, vibrancy, and genuine hospitality of the people. It was a transformative journey beyond textbooks and lectures, creating a lasting connection to a culture that will forever hold a special place in my heart.
View from the Feria de Corpus Christi.
Simi Parhar is the Summer 2023 Alumni Ambassador in Granada, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.