Food in Spain

A Spanish Breakfast

A major difference between Spain and the U.S. (outside of the language, of course) is the structure of meals here. Breakfast is usually very light- fruit, yogurt, toast, and tea or coffee. Lunch isn’t usually eaten until around 2 and it is a much heavier meal, similar to what we would do in the U.S. for dinner. People often return home for lunch from school or work to eat with their families. Around this time you’ll see lots of people walking the streets, but right after, there will be no one out for several hours. While in the U.S. dinner is the most important meal eaten with family, in Spain, it’s lunch. My host mom typically cooks lunch for my roommate and I. So far, we’ve had chorizo with lentils, pasta with salmon, a roast with pork, potatoes, and other vegetables, bocadillo, and paella. After lunch, my host mom has given us a variety of desserts to try as well. One of my favorites that I’d never heard of or seen before was mandarin orange slices with honey and cinnamon. 

My Host Mom’s Paella

Dinner is eaten around 8:30 and is generally lighter than what we have in the U.S as well. In Spanish culture, it’s not traditional to host people inside your house, like it is in the U.S. Typically, people meet out on the streets to talk and hang out or go out to restaurants or cafes. A common thing to do for dinner is to go and get tapas with friends. Tapas are small bites that come in a variety of forms. Some of my favorites have been “tostada con carne,” or bread with meat, “croquetas,” little fried balls of meat, cheese, and a mashed potato type of mixture, and “patatas bravas,” fried potato slices with a sauce on top. With these tapas, you can get a drink, like a beer or glass of wine for around 3 euros. Getting tapas for dinner has been one of my favorite things- it’s such a great way to meet other people in my program, explore the city, practice the language, and immerse ourselves into the culture.

Churros with Chocolate (One of my Favorite Desserts)

My First Week in Granada

Church Near My Homestay

It’s only been a few days in Granada and I’ve already been having an amazing time. While waiting in the airport for one of my flights, I met a girl who was from the same program as me, which helped ease a lot of my stress about arriving in a new country, in an airport I’d never been in before. Navigating the airport in Madrid proved a bit difficult, so I was especially grateful to have her there to go through it with me. In line to go through Customs, we ran into two other girls- one from our program and one from another. The four of us were able to hang out and get to know each other before our next flight, making the transition into a new country a lot smoother. While waiting at our gate to board, more than ten other IES students showed up. It was great to finally meet other students face to face and get to know some of the people I’d be spending the next few months with. It was also nice to hear that we shared a lot of the same fears and reservations about adjusting to the language and our new environment. Upon arriving in Granada, I took a taxi to my homestay, which is located on a gorgeous street near the center of the city. I even have a little balcony in my room that overlooks the street. 

A Building Part Of The University of Granada

Shortly after arriving, my homestay “mom” and several IES “orientadores,” students from University of Granada working with IES to help welcome and immerse us into the city, organized a little visit for other nearby homestay students and I to a local cafe. The orientadores took us on a walk nearby and we met up with other students staying in one of the residence halls. It was so fun finally getting to hang out with fellow students in Granada and explore the city together. It also helped me manage the jet-lag that I had been fighting since landing. Although it’s only been a short amount of time, my transition into this city and this culture has been made easy by the support of IES and the orientadores, my homestay “mom,” and all of the fellow students.

Fuente De Las Batallas (Fountain Near My Homestay)

Pre-departure Thoughts

Before we get started, I wanted to introduce myself real quick! My name is Mariella Stine and I am a sophomore. I am from Atlanta, GA and I am double majoring in Spanish and Studio Art, with a minor in Creative Writing. This semester, I will be studying abroad in Granada, Spain from January through May through IES. 

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’ve always loved to travel. There’s just something so special about going somewhere you’ve never been, seeing things you’ve never seen, and experiencing an entirely different culture than your own. That being said, I’ve never traveled alone before. I’ve always had my family to fall back on when things get difficult or problems arise that I don’t necessarily see a clear solution to. Then, add in another language entirely and things get just a little bit more complicated. While I have been studying Spanish since sixth grade, going to Spain, where I know I will be fully surrounded by the language, unable to fall back on my English, is definitely nerve-wracking, especially when I am participating in a program where I know no one. But ultimately, one of the reasons why I am able to be here, sitting in the airport waiting for my first of many flights, is because of the support I’ve had along the way from both the staff at IES Granada and Wofford’s International Programs Office. Being able to ask all of my questions and schedule as many appointments as I needed to answer those questions and work through any concerns was extremely helpful and reduced my stress greatly throughout the whole process. Resources like Orientation with IES and the Study Abroad Alumni Dinner put me in direct contact with students who have participated in the same program as me. Hearing all about their incredible experiences while abroad made me feel more excited than anything. Even hearing about the not-so-incredible experiences was reassuring, knowing that I would be able to get through those if they arise because someone else before me has too. 

It’s all of these experiences that I will inevitably have that I am most looking forward to while abroad. I want to grow as a person and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I want to be more independent and confident. And of course, I want to make the most of each and every opportunity I have. Wish me luck!