The onsite directors will be your program leader and are there to lead and guide you during your study abroad experience. Our programs also have assistant directors that help manage the programs, especially during the excursions and cultural activities. Onsite directors are usually host-country nationals with cross-cultural experience. All of our directors have experience working with groups and have international experience (travel and work) and many have studied abroad themselves as students.
Germán Casado was born and raised in Dúrcal, a small Andalusian town outside of Granada, Spain. He holds a Master’s Degree in Translation & Interpretation (English, French, & Italian) from the prestigious University of Granada. He also has a degree in Business French from the Business Chamber of Paris. Germán is also a certified tour guide and guide of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park. Germán has studied and lived in France, Belgium and Italy, where he perfected his language skills. He is a true outdoor enthusiast! Germán has worked for sporting events such as the World Championship for Alpine Skiing in the Sierra Nevada (Granada), and the World Cup for mountain biking. Germán is skilled at rock climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, skiing and rollerblading. There isn’t much Germán doesn’t do! He has worked as a mountain guide leading hiking trips to the Alps and the Atlas mountains. Besides travel and outdoor extreme sports, Germán has worked as a producer for documentary films for the BBC and other European programs that focus on Andalusia. Since 1997, Germán has operated a travel and study abroad business in Granada for North American and European students.
Zaida was born in Seville, the capital de Andalucía, and spent her childhood in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a small city in the province of Andaluza de Cádiz. Her family is from Granada, a city she has known since she was a child when she spent summers traversing the Sierra Nevada mountain range with relatives. Zaida is currently a Professor of Spanish and Theater at the Universidad de Perpignan in France. Fluent in English, French, German, and of course Spanish, Zaida has worked as a tour guide, language professor, website designer and sales representative with international academic and cultural travel organizations. Combining her knowledge of German and Spanish languages and cultures, she created a unique travel program in Andalucía for Germans studying Spanish. Zaida holds a Doctorate in Spanish Literature and History of Journalism from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. She has a Masters degree in Superior Hispanic Studies from the Universidad de Sevilla and a degree in Spanish Philology from the Universidad de Granada. She also studied German Anthropology and Philology at the Universidad de Basilea in Switzerland. She obtained her certification as a German language professor in Düsseldorf, Germany. Zaida produces research and articles in her areas of expertise in Spanish and history. Her work has been published in distinguished periodicals including Revista Alhóndiga. Zaida is passionate about traveling, nature, biking, running, snowboarding, surfing, swimming, and race walking. A true athlete, she was a member of the elite club de Atletismo de Saint Andreu in Barcelona for two years. Zaida has hiked the Davos region of Switzerland, the Black Forest of southern Germany, the French Alps, and thousands of kilometers through various rustic routes on the Camino de Santiago. Zaida enjoys reading, writing, learning languages, film, theater music, singing, and dancing. She loves discovering new places and people, and admiring the colors, music, sounds and smells of each place. She can’t wait to accompany you on your journey to Andalusian lands!
Isabel Aldama is originally from a small city in the north of Spain called Santander. She has lived in Granada since 2005 and loves everything that the city and region have to offer. Isabel understands the importance of a study abroad experience for language learning. She lived in London and Cambridge for 2 years where she studied English and got to experience life abroad through work and study. Isabel loves teaching and working with people so in college she studied to be an English teacher and took classes in Santander, Cambridge and Madrid. Isabel has worked as an English teacher around Granada for many years now. For her, Granada is one of the most interesting and cultural places to live and she loves sharing it with others. In addition to teaching, Isabel enjoys traveling and pottery, which is her favorite hobby. Isabel is also the very proud mother of her daughter, Telma (DOB July 2013). You will love having Isabel as your director. She looks forward to welcoming you to Granada!
Ivan Ruiz was born in 1983 in a small village of Axarquia, Málaga. He has worked as a journalist, professional diver and tour guide for many years. While he has deep roots in Andalusia, he also loves traveling and has lived abroad on various continents. After graduating with a degree in journalism in Mexico Ivan traveled throughout the country interviewing people from all walks of life. In Tanzania, he worked as a construction manager building a school for orphans. He loves the countryside, where he feels he most belongs. He also loves the sea. Ivan is also a lifelong student of history, which he believes is where we come from and what unites us. Ivan loves art and all forms of creative expression including theater and music. He channels his artistic vision as an audiovisual creator. Ivan has collaborated and worked for various newspapers and television channels such as Canal Sur and Discovery Channel. Ivan is the founder of the Horizontes Collective newspaper and his writing has been published internationally. He is currently finishing a documentary about a shipwreck of a rice boat that will soon be released. Ivan considers himself a lifelong learner who is curious about the world and always willing to learn from anyone. He enjoys the simple pleasures of life– laughter, smiles and love. Ivan looks forward to sharing the culture, nature and traditions of Andalusia with you!
Rocío Salinas was born and raised in Adra, a small town on the coast of Almería, Spain, which is famous for its fishing and agriculture. At the age of 18, Rocío went to study in Granada and fell in love with the city. She studied Pedagogy and Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the Universidad de Granada and received scholarships to study at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid for a year and in Orleans and Besançon, France for a year and a half. Rocío discovered a love of traveling and exploring new cultures, which led her to a masters degree as a Professor of Spanish as a Second Language at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. She has lived and worked as a language instructor for several years in Southampton in the UK and Breda and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Her passion for traveling led her to India and Nepal for six months where she completed her yoga and meditation teacher training. She has worked as a yoga instructor for the past several years, offering classes to people of all ages and backgrounds. She continues to learn about diverse cultures, people and cuisines. Her most recent travels have been to Peru and Senegal. She enjoys practicing English, French, and a little bit of Italian. She adores spending time in nature especially, the ocean and the mountains. Rocío looks forward to sharing everything she can about her culture and all of the wonderful things Granada has to offer!
Marcell was born in London, but grew up in Granada, Spain. His father is German and his mother is Spanish. His last name, Doerrier, is of French origin and he has ancestors from Hungary, Denmark, and Norway. As an adult Marcell has lived in both Germany and Spain. Since he was a child Marcell has always had a love of travel, something his parents instilled in him by always taking him along on their travels. Especially his father who lived in Hawaii, Mexico, Brazil, England and France, as well as Spain and Germany. Marcell has travelled to the United States and Canada as well as Morocco, Russia and most European countries. He has also traveled to visit his Italian, Greek, German, Spanish, Argentine, Peruvian and even American relatives! Marcell has dedicated himself to many activities over the years; both in work and leisure. He has been a basketball coach, a volunteer guide for both Spanish and foreign groups, coordinator and translator for sister cities, and an organizer of recreational activities. Marcell has also worked in the banking sector, real estate, social media, tourism, and retail. He was the program coordinator of an Erasmus Association in Granada (Erasmus is an European exchange program), as well as the homestay coordinator for American students studying abroad in Granada. As far as hobbies are concerned, Marcell loves scuba diving and completed his PADI certification a few years ago. He also really enjoys board games, hiking, reading, writing stories, and playing music. In fact, Marcell is currently part of a band. He also enjoys humor and history, and is a born collector. He loves to collect all sorts of things from drink coasters to Smurfs. Marcell is a lover of the city of Granada and the province of Granada, in particular.
Alejandro was born and raised in Cádiz, Spain, but finished high school in Kingston, TN. Tennessee is where he earned the nickname, "The Spaniard", which he loved. Back in Spain, Alejandro studied at the Universidad de Granada and graduated with degrees in Law (2000) and Political Science (2003), while also studying Philosophy. Alejandro is very passionate about learning and academics! He has always been interested in the history of political thought, a passion that sheds light on his academic journey. Alejandro has also lived and worked abroad starting with Aarhus, Denmark (1999-2000) and then Edinburgh, Scotland (2003-2005). These past years he has worked as a private guide in Andalucía, and led bike tours for a US company (2010 - 2019). Alejandro loves languages and is currently studying German. Recently he has been spending many months in Germany, embracing life once again as a student. Although, Alejandro says, “above all, sport is my passion”. He is an outdoors person now: swimming, cycling, running, and playing tennis. He especially gravitates towards endurance sports. Out of this passion, he has become well-versed in nutrition, a topic about which he can spend hours conversing. Alejandro loves to work with foreign travelers, especially Americans, to whom he still feels quite connected after his high school year in Tennessee and summers spent working in the Smoky Mountains. Alejandro feels like an ambassador showing his home country to others. He is very aware that there is more to a language than just the grammar and the vocabulary. Without experiencing first-hand the culture that lives with the language there is no real learning. He understands very well the importance of why it makes so much sense to spend time in the country where the language of study is spoken. As to his private life, Alejandro has no children of his own but instead he has a niece and a nephew who constantly remind him that he’s become a professional uncle now ("Tito Ale").
Alberto was born in Granada, Spain. He holds a Master’s Degree in Translation & Interpretation (English and German) from the prestigious University of Granada and a three year degree in Business and Tourism. Alberto has experience working and studying abroad and spent 5 months in London. His career has always been dedicated to Tourism. He has worked as an official tour guide leading groups in English and Spanish in Granada. He has also worked as a receptionist in hotels, as tourist office staff at the Alhambra, and as a coordinator of cultural activities for study abroad programs. The role of a cultural activities coordinator allows him to link his five passions (nature, languages, sports, traveling and art) and share them with American students. Alberto is also very interested in volunteering and has participated in development projects in Morocco, Lithuania and the Netherlands specifically working in the areas of Education, Environment, and Sports. He has volunteered in Spain with Eurobasket 2007, the basketball World Cup in 2014, and the Granada Marathon. He enjoys volunteering for diverse sporting events for children and has worked as an instructor in bilingual summer camps. In his free time Alberto enjoys flamenco shows, having tapas with friends, and visiting museums. Alberto is very good at paddle tennis and soccer and welcomes you to a challenge match! Another great hobby of his is to spend time taking care of his own vegetable garden near the Sierra Nevada mountains. Alberto looks forward to meeting you and helping you explore and learn about all that Spain has to offer!
Rocío is a true granadina! She was born and raised right in Granada. She loves her hometown because one can find and do every kind of outdoor and cultural activity. Her father is a well-known alpinist from Granada who made the first winter ascents of routes in the Sierra Nevada mountains (apart from other alpinist activities in Spain, Peru, Bolivia and the Alps). She inherited her love for mountains and climbing from her father. When she was just a baby her parents would take her hiking every weekend. They would also take her traveling around Europe and South America (her mother is from Colombia). When she was just 4 years old she started skiing. Growing up, she spent several months in Chile for ski training. Rocío took part in ski competitions from the time she was 8 until she was 19. She participated in the Spanish Championships, International Championships in France and Chile, as well as the Spanish University Championships. She always ranked among the first three positions in Andalusia and ranked fourth in the Spanish Championship. After competing in ski competitions for 11 years she started working as a ski teacher until she moved to Germany in 2008. During her years working as a ski instructor she studied Translation and Interpreting at the University of Granada (English, German, French and Japanese). Apart from Translation and Interpreting she also took postgraduate courses on how to make art accessible to the visually and hearing impaired. Rocío has lived and studied abroad in several different countries (Scotland as an Erasmus student, Ireland for an English course, and Germany for 5 years). Rocío finds her greatest joy in nature and traveling. She is also an active climber and alpinist and has been to the top of many famous mountains such as Mont Blanc and Mulhacén. She has gone rock climbing, ice climbing and skiing everywhere in Spain, the UK, Germany and France. Rocío enjoys trying any kind of nature-oriented or extreme sport (from paragliding to kitesurfing to bungee jumping). She has also taken road trips around Europe and Africa in her van (Germany to Turkey, Greece to the UK, Slovakia to Morocco, Hungary to Portugal). Rocío is quite the adventurer! She truly loves languages and getting to know different cultures (and foods!). She feels that learning about other cultures allows her to see things from a different point of view.