Monday 12 Jan - Orange trees and no English please
Our first Monday of classes was a struggle getting out of bed for an early 10am start (no it really was, the sleep patterns were still all over the place). I arrived early at the other university so I had sat outside before class and admired how many orange trees surrounded the building, it was beautiful! The entrance looked like more of a large cottage than a university. The classes were intensive straight away, if we didn't know how to say a specific word we would have to try to describe what that word was without speaking any English. It definitely made the class more entertaining as we resulted to hand gestures to describe something. Later in the evening we had heard of a Spanish and English conversation exchange that is held at a specific bar every Monday night, so we decided to go along and see what it was all about. It turned out to be a really amusing and also useful night where we were able to meet and speak with some of the Spanish locals and practice the language. They were also there to practice their English so it was perfect for both sides of the party. It was definitely one of the best ways to immerse ourselves into the culture and make a fun night of it!
Tuesday 13 Jan - Unforgettable sights and colourful lights
I had no idea what to except when I read on our itinerary that we were going to be visiting the Albayzin. Our cultural teacher led us up through the cobbled stoned streets towards Mirador de San Nicolas and we continued further up to see people taking up an entire ledge that was overlooking something. As we arrived at the top, it all became clear and that was the moment I really fell in love with Granada. There are not enough words that can properly describe the astonishing view overlooking the entire city and the beautiful Alhambra. In the middle of the ledge there were 2 men playing guitar and another singing Spanish music, it couldn't have been more stereotypically perfect. We wandered back towards the bottom and stopped to admire all the lit up cafes and small shops along the way. There were so many colourful lanterns that hung from the ceilings and in front of the door ways, most of us want to eventually come back to take one home, nothing quite like them in Australia. The people in the shops were so friendly and welcoming; it made the wander back extremely enjoyable.
Wednesday 14 Jan - Espresso crave and a flamenco cave
During our break in between classes, we discovered the espresso/coffee vending machine which was one of the best and convenient inventions ever. Most of the other classes of people gathered around this small area as our breaks were at similar times. My class was full of great people, all so switched on and we all helped one another with our Spanish in times of struggle. Later in the evening after going for more of a wander (and finally investing in a proper snow jacket) some of the girls and I decided to check out a flamenco show. It was my first experience of flamenco so I had no idea what to expect. It was an affordable 10 Euros as we walked inside past the bar and all of a sudden we were walking into a small cave area with small chairs and tables aligned in front of the stage. I was already excited before the show had even begun with this unusual, yet beautiful setting. We ordered some drinks and soon after a man sat playing guitar and another man began to sing a Spanish tune. The music lasted for a good 30 minutes and not long after, the stunning flamenco dancer appeared. She was wearing the perfect outfit and it was the first time I had ever seen someone dance with so much passion, it was beyond me and we were all amazed. Watch flamenco show in a cave. Check.
Thursday 15 Jan - Nothing rhymes with Alhambra
Today was the day we had all been waiting for. The numerous people that had told us the many wonders about the Alhambra and due to it being the most iconic thing to see in Granada, everyone was keen to see what all the fuss was about. We met up with the rest of our class and our cultural teacher after walking up a steep hill which wasn't far from Plaza Nueva. There were a few bendy roads to walk around to get into the entrance of the Alhambra and as we entered, I didn't realize how many parts there actually were to it. It was huge and the most amazing part was the condition it was in after all these years. The Alhambra proportions were a decoding of what the medieval days were made up of, with rows of geometric symbols and shapes aligning the walls. We learnt that each rectangle shape of the building was made up of similar proportions with the side of a square and its diagonal; this continued the shape and architecture of the Alhambra. (Basically, it can never be brought down) The courtyards and hallways were also used with inspired variations of this proportion. I'm not a maths expert and didn't understand the exact measurements but it was basically a mathematical engineering system. We admired the scope and the more remarkable views overlooking Granada and the gardens which we were lucky enough to get some good weather for. The only weird thing was that there were cats everywhere in the courtyard, (you pat it, you own it).
Friday 16 Jan - Night time stars and funky bars
Classes were continuously intense but heaps of fun and we already had an oral to practise for the beginning of next week. Nothing extremely challenging but we were each going to give a short speech on our life back home, our time in Granada, our families and what we like to do in our spare time. We had the whole weekend to prepare so we weren't too stressed out. It was time for a bit of night life exploring after wandering through the city in the daytime after classes. There were quite a few bars near our main street so some of us decided to check them out. The drinks were so cheap at the first bar, and of course you can't say no to free tapas! (Seriously, free tapas). The second bar was the ultimate discovery, the "Chupiteria", this was specifically for an entire range (180 to be specific) of 1 euro shots. The most exciting thing was the novelty of picking a number and watching the bartender spray whipped cream over the top of the shot (or any other unusual ingredient) and having a shot lit on fire. Unless there already is one that I haven't heard about, definitely something that should be brought to Melbourne.
Saturday 17 Jan - Lazy day feels and an interesting meal...
After a long first week of classes, a relax day was in order. One of my friends and I had a wander through the park and did our regular fro-yo run after spending time at the gym. (It's hard to say no to 2 Euro cakes, so this is very necessary). Later at dinner, I was served something that surprised me. My roommate wasn't home that night so I was on my own at the dinner table with my seÃ±ora. I was welcomed by a plate of worms, grey and white worms. Even if the food in front of me is not appealing to the eye I will still always give it a go. (My seÃ±ora was eating it, so surely it couldn't be that bad). Well it was - this was something I did not enjoy after the first spoonful, it was probably one of the most difficult dinner experiences I've had. I wanted to be polite and eat it, but I just couldn't, I felt like I had spooned salt covered worms into my mouth. I told my roommate about her lucking out on dinner and we went online to discover what it was. Turns out I was eating shredded baby eels. Yes, apparently it is quite a common dish here in Spain! (I think I prefer paella).
Sunday 18 Jan - A little snow over, on the way to Cordoba
Another early start for an exciting day trip ahead, except this time the temperature was in the negatives and there was rain from get go. During our 3 hour bus trip on the way over, we drove past some fields of snow, the first snow we had seen while we had been away so we were all extremely excited. Although, we had already passed all of it by the time we were in Cordoba, so it was just cold - without the snow. We also stopped at an olive farm where we were given various olive oil samples to taste with bread; this was a nice little break inside from the wet weather. Once arriving in Cordoba, it still wasn't the best day to be going on a walking tour; however we could picture how much more beautiful the city would be on a nicer day. One of the positives was that we were able to visit the mosque which was absolutely huge and very interesting to explore. (The weather didn't ruin entirely everything!) The first thing we did in the little spare time we had was found a small cafe and some shelter, and shared some hot food and drinks to warm up!
You can read more about my adventures in Intensive Spanish in Granda, Week 1
"The best part of the program was the community and the history that came with being in Cambridge. Instructors were always very understanding, so you don't need to stress about the deadlines too much".
True to their words, University of Cambridge is the best in medieval studies and the lecturers and the class tutors have their way of condensing the topics into something digestible in such a short time.