iSchool International: Studying abroad in Granada

Dulf Genis

BSIS+DS student Dulf Genis discusses his study abroad in Granada, Spain, where he is mastering the Spanish language and enjoying all that the city has to offer. 

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Studying abroad was one of my goals for college. I decided to study abroad because I'm minoring in Spanish and wanted to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language. Moreover, to embody the sentiment of interdisciplinary studies that exemplifies the iSchool, I want to truly diversify my skill set by mastering another language to complement my STEM competencies. 

Where are you currently studying, and how long is your program?

This semester, I am studying in Granada, Spain, in the southern Andalucía region. This is part of the semester-long program, Illinois in Spain: Spanish Studies in Granada, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Tell me about your experience so far.

I've been having the time of my life so far. I have been keeping a blog/journal and documenting my study abroad on my website. Every day is a journey, whether it involves exploring the city, trying out different restaurants, seeing Granada's wonders and hidden gems, meeting new people, connecting with students outside of our program, or exploring the city's nightlife. The best part is that I find myself speaking in Spanish most of the day—to my host family, peers, waiters in a restaurant, study groups, strangers, etc. I consider myself a very independent person, and I've spent the past month actively pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, meeting new people, and exploring the city on my own when not with my peers from the program. Granada has become another home for me, and I'm building lifelong friendships and connections.

Would you recommend study abroad to other students, and if so, why?

I would absolutely recommend studying abroad to other students. Study abroad is a valuable opportunity, especially in our rapidly evolving and multicultural world, to grow personally and broaden one's perspective. For those in Spanish programs, both majors and minors, I highly recommend the Granada program. Granada is steeped in history, with its architecture and culture influenced by Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. It also has a cozy, small-town vibe that feels more authentic and less cosmopolitan compared to Madrid and Barcelona. From grabbing fresh bread in the morning from a vendor in the plaza to enjoying sangrias and tapas in front of the Alhambra at sunset, studying in Granada is an opportunity you'll never regret. Over my first school break, I traveled by myself to Paris, Stockholm, and London. These trips and experiences have truly opened my eyes to new perspectives, unique experiences, and untold narratives about the world.

How has this experience benefited your academic and professional life?

My experience in Granada has taught me to slow down. Given that this semester I have no extracurricular responsibilities, internship duties, research projects, networking plans, or hefty amounts of homework, it's been an adjustment to simply appreciate not being pulled in all directions. My focus has shifted to pursuing/revisiting hobbies such as cooking new types of food; hiking in different areas; learning salsa, bachata, and flamenco; writing in my journal; socializing with people from different backgrounds; and other activities that take me out of my comfort zone. It has given me the chance to step back and appreciate the simple aspects of life that are frequently overshadowed by ambition. This experience will act as a catalyst for me to be more intentional about balancing my work and personal life.

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