¡Qué tal! My name is Mukund Desibhatla, and I am thrilled to make Granada, Spain my home for the next five months. I am a junior at UConn pursuing a double major in Physiology & Neurobiology and Spanish. I began learning Spanish in 2011, and only a couple of years in, my family decided to visit Spain for the first time. We traveled to Madrid, Barcelona, and the “Moorish jewel” Granada. At the time, my Spanish was awful and I reverted to English too frequently. The city, however, was mesmerizing during the visit – the famous Alhambra, cobblestone streets, and tapas bars. I regretted not staying any longer, but life has made a full circle! Now a degree major, I am a student at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, only a 15-minute walk from the Alhambra.
Granada is homely and decorated. It’s an elegant extension of Europe yet reminds me of the narrow and windy roads of the North End in Boston. I walk around 5-7 miles a day; no wonder everyone needs a siesta! When I walk to school every day, I pass through historic plazas and fountains surrounded by Moorish architecture. The social dynamic is intriguing – no one stays at home. I pass by tapas bars and cafeterías where locals and foreigners converse.
Last Monday, my roommate dragged me to an intercambio hosted by the school. We congregated with locals at the Lemon Rock Bar and practiced our Spanish for hours. Our new friends were attentive and encouraging, and in return, we helped them practice their English. That night, I was reminded of my purpose in being here. I need to leave this city as a fluent Spanish speaker! Granada’s approachability is a perfect resource for my goal, so I hope to make all future intercambios.
As a coffee connoisseur, I truly cannot characterize a city without sampling its finest café. On a rainy Thursday, I skipped my siesta and hiked up the Albaicín, a beautiful Andalucian neighborhood overlooking the Alhambra palace and Generalife gardens. As usual, I ordered a café cortado, essentially a mini latte with rich steamed milk. As the rain concluded, my friends and I witnessed a gorgeous sunset among the clouds.
A final highlight of my first two weeks: the trips! Granada is blessed with sunny beaches and snow-capped mountain ranges within a 1-hour radius. My first trip was to the coastal Almuñecar and Nerja beach. Close to the seafront, my group explored historic caves, a major attraction in the city. The interior resembled a Lord of The Rings backdrop and reminded me of my past visits to Turkey’s Cappadocia and India’s Ellora Caves.
Most recently, my friends and I planned an impromptu trip to the Sierra Nevada. Cited to be Europe’s southern-most ski resort, the Sierra was vast and surprisingly had no trees above its snow line. The powder was smooth, comparable to that of Utah resorts. It has been a very exciting (and chaotic) two weeks but I feel like I’ve been here for months. Thanks for tuning in- I’ll be back with updates soon. ¡Luego!