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Q and A
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How do I find out more?
Funny that we put that question at the very top of a long list of questions and answers. We COULD just say, "Read on." But even when you are through with this page and you have searched our website, we hope you want more, more, more. So we have scheduled several information sessions dedicated to our program.
Do I need to know Spanish?
You do not need to be a fluent speaker, but you do need to have completed Spanish 101 to qualify for the program. Keep in mind that English is not an everyday language in Spain, so you will want to anticipate picking up a lot of Spanish as you go. The University of Granada faculty are skilled at working with English speaking students as they learn Spanish, and you have MCC faculty who are bilingual, so don't be nervous.
Will we have free time?
¡Claro que sí! Er ... You bet. Monday through Thursday mornings are for class, and Fridays (and two Saturdays) are for group excursions. The Spanish class will also be taking weekly evening outing (which gets extra credit for the World Religions students). Other than that, you have a LOT of free time. But we really encourage you to get out a lot, whether on your own or with a few or a lot of the rest of us. We even have put up a list of possible things to do.
How easy is it to get around Granada?
The CLM campus is less than a 10 minute walk to the cathedral plaza -- in other words, there is a LOT within walking distance. And the rest of the city is accessible by a very good metro bus system. Bus fare is 1.20 euros (about $1.70), but buying a "CrediBus" card slashes that price. A seven-ride card is 5 euros (about $7.20), and a 16-ride card is 10 euros. That makes each individual ride about 90 cents.
What if I get sick?
It happens, but Spain offers plenty of really good get well options. We will show you where the farmacias are -- they are your best first-stop. If you need to go beyond that, there are clinics and a hospital. We'll tell you in the orientation how to connect to them?
What is the best way to keep contact with friends/family?
You have several options. The traditional pay phone is still widely present in Spain, and you can buy phone cards at the kiosk news stands that aren't TOO expensive per minute. But there are cheaper ways. You might want to set yourself (and your family) up with Skype on your laptop. With or without video, Skype-to-Skype is free. You can often set up your American cell phone for international calling, but with roaming charges it gets a bit expensive. You might want to splurge and get an unlocked international phone here -- then you can take your T-Mobile or ATT sim card out, and put a Spanish card in (this is the cheapest phone option). Another way to do that is to buy a pay-as-you-go Spanish cell phone there (they are pretty cheap there, too.) And don't forget good "old-fashioned email."
Is being vegetarian difficult in Spain?
It is true that some of the favorite Spanish foods are oxtail and jamón serrano (ham). But vegetarianism is on the rise there just as it is here. You can find a lot of ways to "order around the meat." If you are a pescatarian (a fish-eater), you are in fine shape. Andalucia boasts several types of seafood, and is very proud of its paella (rice with seafood).
What are some other common Spanish foods?
Those pimienta-stuffed green olives you see around here come from southern Spain. You should also try their gazpacho -- a cold tomato soup with fresh vegetables. It may be hard to imagine, but it is a delightful surprise. And Spanish tortilla is not a flat piece of bread, but an egg/potato/cheese omelette. Spanish cuisine is very tasty, but Spain is not Mexico -- so you won't see a lot of jalapeños.
What are tapas?
Think little nibbles of great dishes. Granada and Sevilla are famous for their tapas, and some places are always trying out new ideas. But with a sangria or a beer, you will frequently get served a bite-sized tuna and roasted red pepper sandwich or deep-fried eggplant or who knows? This kind of tapa is always a surprise. You can also order something specific from a menu. (By the way, "menú del día" in Spain is the phrase for the house special.)
What is the legal drinking age?
In Spain you can drink at 18. Sangria and cerveza are very much part of Spanish life, but borrachos (drunks) are not. Public drunkenness is VERY frowned upon. Please practice moderation.
Is it going to be hot?
During June, Granada's climate is very much like Tucson's -- not quite as warm as Phoenix/Mesa, but a little bit more humid. Think mid-80s to 90. Overnight, the temperature drops back down to make incredible mornings.
Do they really do siesta time?
Yes, they really do close down in the heat of the day. From about 1:30 till about 5:30 in the afternoon, all the little shops (the fun ones for shoppers) are closed. It is also NOT a good time to want to eat a real meal. In fact, most restaurants don't open for evening meals until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening, after the sun has gone down. It's a good time for homework.
Don't people get really hungry by 9:00?
In Spain, the big meal of the day is at mid-day, not early evening. The night time is a much lighter meal, like American lunch. As soon as we arrive, we'll show you where the closest grocery store is, so you can make a little stash of snacks to get you through our day trips and the in-between times.
Speaking of shopping, is it expensive?
Spain's prices seem fairly close to American prices. Gasoline, though, is WAY higher (around $7.00/gallon), and that puts pressure on food prices.
How religious is Spain?
Southern Spain is a Roman Catholic area, so there are plenty of churches. But the level of active involvement is on the decline. There are a Baptist church and Mormon stake-center in Granada. In 2003 the renewed Muslim community opened a mosque in Granada. There is no active synagogue in Granada (but if you go to Málaga for the beach, you can find one there.)
What should I tip?
For small things -- one beer, one cup of coffee -- a tip is not expected at all. For larger meals or for taxi drivers, think 10%.
What should I bring?
We are putting together a packing list to answer that one.
How will students be chosen for the program?
To apply for the program, download an application (including forms for two letters of recommendation) from this website or pick one up from Tom Shoemaker. (Note: Applications will be available when the program receives District approval, sometime around September 7). Return your completed application to Tom Shoemaker (the program director), at which point you will spend a few minutes in an informal interview. Students are selected based on academic and student conduct, the letters of recommendation, your own personal statement of interest (reflecting how the program will fulfill your academic, personal and/or professional goals), and the interview.
So does completing the application process secure my spot?
No, that is just a start. The only way to secure your place in our group is to pay the program fee in full. But don't panic, you have until March.
Do I have to come home at the end?
Actually, this has been asked seriously several times already. The answer is no. You can arrange your flight home for a later date, and spend an extra week or two or six in Spain, France, Italy ... wherever. Actually, this is a very good opportunity that might not come your way again soon. We will even tell you about hostels and the like. (On an official note, you need to be aware that your official connection with the program ends on June 28, and that means it is up to keep someone state-side aware of where you are, just in case.)