In words that will resonate with world travelers everywhere, Tessa Lau signed up for a study abroad trip this past summer hoping to “spend some time away from normal.” It’s safe to say she wasn’t disappointed.
“It was an amazing experience,” says Lau, of the trip she took with Professor Susanna Williams and nine other classmates to Granada, Spain, which included Spanish language classes at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, Universidad de Granada. “We met from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a short break, and we only conversed in Spanish. My Spanish improved tremendously.”
Lau and her roommate/newfound friend, Melody Momper, stayed with a mother and daughter at an apartment in walking distance from Granada’s downtown. From her hosts, Lau learned how to make yogurt from scratch and appreciate the finer details of daily life.
“I so enjoyed the family that I stayed with. They wanted to share their country with me,” says Lau. “Mare (her host/mother) knows French and Greek, and she cooks incredibly good, healthy food. Her daughter Teresa is so talented. She plays piano and is really fun. I am so glad I got to know them. We are still in touch.”
After class each day, Lau and her classmates would meet up with Professor Williams outside of the Granada Cathedral, a Spanish Renaissance wonder that took 200 years to build. They would then have lunch at one of the nearby cafes.
“All of the food there is really good,” says Lau, who became fond of Spanish frittata – eggs and potatoes prepared much like an omelet. “I also loved the ham sandwiches with olive oil and fresh tomatoes that you could buy on the street.”
A stay in Granada is not complete without a visit to the Alhambra, famous for its Islamic architecture, lush gardens and many fountains. It was once home to the royal court of Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen who commissioned Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World.
“It didn’t seem real,” says Lau, shown here with her sister Ava (left) in Granada, where they met up near the end of the trip. “When you look up at it at night from the Mirador (tower) de San Nicolas and it’s all lit up, it’s magical.”
During her two weeks in Granada, Lau also gave much thought to her career. After seeing the stunning work of human hands so evident throughout Granada, she decided to venture into a new normal when she returned home.
“I wanted to do something I love every day, and I wanted it be creative. I had done some metal fabricating when I helped a friend build a food cart, and I really liked it,” says Lau, who changed her major from general studies to welding this fall. “It looks like a really interesting career. I’m hoping to get an apprenticeship.”