Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Studying Abroad in Granada

Last Fall, I spent the semester studying abroad in Granada, Spain. While there, I wrote to Admissions describing the experience and why I think that international students should come to Macalester. I was just reading back on it and I thought it would make a great blog post. I hope you can identify with some of the things I say!

View from El Generalife after a free tour of the Alhambra

"I am doing well and Granada has been great :) There was a random hail storm yesterday but it's back to sunny skies. While here, I'm taking 3 classes, an internship, and an independent study. For my internship I am working with an international organization called UIM (UniĆ³n Iberoamericana de Municipalistas) which partners with lots of different districts across Spain and Latin America to aid in efforts of development. They offer scholarship programs for courses dealing with things like Gender Equality in the workplace, Local Development and Management, Auditing and Controlling the workplace, and Technical Training. It's a great place to work and their staff is quite diverse (from all over Spain, Latin America, and the Caribbean) which makes me feel right at home.

View of the Albaycin from the Alhambra

The Independent Study I'm doing is basically trying to answer the question of why immigrants from Latin America choose to stay in Spain during a prolonged period of economic crisis. I'm still in the early stages of research and trying to get everything approved by the Macalester SAIRB board. I've started having weekly meetings with my advisor who is an Anthropology professor at the University of Granada. She has been very helpful and shares a similar interest in the topic.

End of the program farewell party
As for my Mac experience, I think it's important for international students to know that at Macalester there is a certain balance of academic rigor and community support. While there are tons of highly accessible opportunities to volunteer, do internships, apply for fellowships, travel, and do research, there is also an intricate network of students from all over the world who care about you and want the best for you. I've found some amazing people at Macalester and it really helps to make a meaningful college experience. When I speak to some of my old classmates who opted to go to other schools, a lot of them had a rough transition in the beginning because of the stark contrasts between the strong community-base they were used to and the more individualistic aspect of their respective universities. However, I did not have a similar experience and felt comfortable from day 1 which is something that should not be downplayed."

Jonathan van Arneman ‘16
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten