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Granada Student Spotlight Q&A: Josh Swafford

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Anastasia Kingsley: Why did you choose to study with CEA in Granada?

grx student2Josh: CEA has the most for the price – excursions, meals, and cultural activities are all included; very few if any other organizations offer all this. And I chose Granada because it is such a beautiful city and I had heard of other people having a positive experience here and wanting to return; you don’t always hear that about every [study abroad] city.

AK: What goals did you have for studying abroad? 

Josh: I had two main goals. One was wanting to improve my language skills and ability to communicate with others in Spanish, and the other was to engage with a different culture, see their perspective on life, and see the way that they live.


"I'll say it louder for the people in the back – if you are on the border about studying abroad, do it. Please, please, you will not regret it. You will learn so much from it, and it is such a good investment.”


AK: How do you feel you have been exposed to the local culture in only a month?

Josh: Having the opportunity to live with a host family has given me the opportunity to see into the Spanish world and the Spanish way of living just from daily interactions and things that I would not normally notice. I’ve noticed myself changing my habits and changing my day-to-day routines to adjust to a different culture. Living with a host family has had the greatest impact because that’s where I spend the most time.

AK: What skills have you developed as a study abroad student that will help you in your future career?

Josh: I have gained the skill of adaptability and being able to be dropped in a new location with new people, and quickly learn how people work and then changing my actions accordingly. I’ve also gained respect for people with different perspectives on life which is beneficial in any workspace.


"Honestly, I can't recommend Granada enough for people with both of my majors. I have learned so much more in both areas of study through this experience. It has increased my comprehension and long-term understanding of the core material. It has increased my comprehension of what I’ve already learned, and also enriched it with new information and new experiences that helped me to understand both of my fields of study in a completely new way. It’s a simultaneous process of gaining information and increasing information that I already have. I feel like it has prepared me even more to go into the next stage of my life.”


AK: Would you encourage other students with your majors to study abroad with CEA?

Josh: I would recommend that other Political Science majors study in Granada specifically, because there is a lot of history here that has had a grand impact on the political landscape in Spain, and seeing a different style and form of government highlights the differences between the U.S. and Spain. It also helps increase your comprehension of political systems and how they function.

I also think every Spanish major needs to study abroad, because it gives you an extended amount of time to practice the language in a unique environment that you would not normally have. With increased daily activity in Spanish you begin to naturally pick up the language.

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Josh with his host mom and host brother.


AK: How did you manage your time between classes, social activities, and travel?

Josh: CEA gives you a good outline of social and cultural activities and lays a strong foundation for prioritizing academics. From the very beginning, everyone from CEA has all emphasized the importance of academics and going to class which has encouraged me and my fellow classmates to take this opportunity seriously and learn as much as we can from it.

AK: What challenges have you faced? What did you do to work through it and how do you feel about it now?

Josh: It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and there were several times where the culture shock made me really homesick, but it was those experiences that I learned the most from. Seeing the differences in the cultures highlights exactly what I came here to learn and what I’m seeking to get out of this experience. There are definitely low points, but those low points are normally followed by high points.

AK: What recommendations do you have for developing good relationships with your fellow students and professors?

Josh: For engaging with professors, I think it comes down to being active participants in class. It’s very easy to sit back, listen, and try to absorb, but the best way to really improve is to engage, ask and answer questions, and take risks in class because that is the way you are going to experience the most growth as a student. For example, if there is a difficult topic or question and you know the answer but are not sure how to communicate it, just go for it and try your best because a lot of times you will surprise yourself with your ability to communicate.

For engaging with students, don’t be afraid to ask a classmate to go do something after class whether it’s getting coffee or trying something new together. You can learn a lot about each other in the classroom, but you can learn even more when you step outside the classroom, and understand their experience as a fellow American and student in a foreign country.

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