A student in Sevilla
Our aim at Spanish Institute, through continual dialogue and encounters with people of different cultures, beliefs and ideologies, is to provide the possibility and means for cultural and intercultural understanding. Our programs ensure personalized attention every step of the way. We strive to make your stay abroad a wonderful, unique and enriching experience you will remember for the rest of your life.
It was January 10th, 2013 at 6:15 am. I had just said my final goodbyes to my mom and headed through security at LAX airport. I couldn’t believe it- I had done it. I had said all my goodbyes, only slightly overpacked, and I couldn’t turn back– I was leaving for my semester in Sevilla, Spain.
I met up with Lily, another girl from my university and on my program at the JFK airport. We nervously sipped coffee while we talked about what was ahead of us. We were both pretty unprepared, no idea what could really be waiting for us on the other side of that 10 hour flight.
Getting to Sevilla was a long trip, but the second I stepped out of the airport and into the cool, orange scented air I was recharged. Even though I was there, physically there, no doubt about it, I still couldn’t believe it. I had let go of what I knew at home in exchange for this completely new and foreign experience. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited or terrified for my adventure to begin.
Meeting my host family didn’t exactly pop my bubble of disbelief. My host mother, Juani, was amazing from the second I stepped in the door. My room was waiting for me, lunch was served, and Juani was already treating me like one of her children- “No, you need to eat more, I am worried about you, you’ve been traveling. At least eat a yogurt? Some fruit? Please?” I was amazed at my luck, within a week I was already integrated into the home and family life.
The reality of it all finally set in the first night some of the girls from the program decided to go out and explore. We found a bar, later we realized it was one of the most expensive we could have found, sat on the terrace, ordered a Sevillan beer and talked about how we had made it, what it would be like, and our goals. It is one of my favorite memories of my semester—the night before it all started.
Orientation started, class from 10am to 1pm everyday, brushing up on our grammar and conversation skills, learning about Spanish culture and history, and getting to know each other. That first month went flying. We went on excursions to explore Andalucía and became more integrated every day. Finally, our university classes started. Our classes were interesting and fun, and most importantly, applicable to our Spanish lives. As a Political Studies student, I had often found that while my classes at my home university were engaging and enriching, it was seldom that what I learned was applied directly to my real life. Yet in Sevilla, my Anthropology of Andalucía class taught me about the history of what was around me, and my cooking and literature class helped me connect the food with the culture and history of the city. It was an amazing and almost unexpected interdisciplinary learning experience.
Though don’t let me fool you- my life was not dedicated completely to academics. I was living in one of the most beautiful cities I had ever seen, I was committed to exploring and meeting new people. My luck came when Lily, from the program, asked me if I wanted to go out to watch a fútbol game with her and her host brother, Nacho. We went and had a fun time, exchanged Facebook info, and hoped we would go out again. Soon after, we were invited to go out with Nacho and his friends. That was all the connection we needed. One night out and we finally had Sevillan friends! Girls that invited us to go shopping with us, guys who wanted help practicing their English, generally amazing people that invited us into their social lives.
I am currently living in Madrid for the summer, one semester in Spain wasn’t enough for me. As I look back on my experience, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities I had in Sevilla. My academic life was challenging yet fun, the city and my host home had been warm and welcoming environments, I had made lasting friendships with Spaniards, and I was completely and undeniably in love with Spain. Yet what I gained from my semester in Sevilla goes beyond new friendships and better Spanish. For me it was a crucial moment in my life in which I had to grow up, be responsible yet completely let go and dive in. I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to go back…