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Illinois State University

Granada, Spain

Spring 2020

Mackenzie Brady, Alumni Ambassador

Alumni Ambassadors
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
The study abroad experience has changed me in some of the best and most unexpected ways. I remember waiting in the Chicago airport and getting so sick because of nerves and asking my mom to come pick me up. However, what felt like days later I was calling my mom crying that my experience was ending early. The study abroad experience has shaped me into the most independent I have ever been. I learned responsibility, independence, and fearlessness through the adversity going on through the coronavirus and all the challenges with finding flights and etc. I no longer needed friends to go with me places, I began to enjoy doing things on my own. I never would have seen myself going to get coffee with someone I had spoke to for two hours a few days before and enjoying myself and feeling comfortable. I absolutely feel changed and my life has bettered from studying abroad.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
My experience inside Granada was phenomenal. My host family was so warm and friendly, I spent a lot of time in the house and on the street with them, learning the cultural norms, where the best bakeries are, and the best restaurant for a tapa. At least once a week I participated in an 'intercambio' a language exchange program in which I spoke in Spanish with native speakers for an hour and then we switched and the native speaker practiced their English. I adored this experience and frequently would make friendships with locals and spend time with individuals outside of the program. Finally, I loved experiencing the culture on my own. After class I would take a long walk home, sit in the park, buy some goodies from the bakery, and interact with locals to ask for directions or recommendations. This was one of my favorite parts because I began to become like a local to some businesses and saw the same people in the park on my walks home.

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