“Seville? Why Seville? Why not Madrid or Barcelona?”
I’ve heard that question more times than I can count in the past month from both Americans and Spaniards alike. The answer, for me, is simple. I wanted a smaller, quieter city. Not as many American students, not as many tourists. Something slower. Now, after living in Seville for three weeks, I can say that I feel I’ve made the right decision. Sevillian cultural norms such as sitting with friends at a café for an hour or two just to chat and waking up a little bit later have been sublime. I’ve been able to do a lot of leisure reading and have enjoyed trying new cuisines, ranging from pastries to tortillas to strong European coffee. And, of course, speaking the Spanish language has been a challenging but valuable immersive experience. Such an unhurried lifestyle here is a nice break from American hurriedness.
That isn’t to say, however, that there haven’t been challenges in adjusting along the way. Spain loves its ham, and I don’t eat meat, which has had to be clarified and re-clarified with my homestay mother. I had to make a more concerted effort to find peers who shared my preference for quieter social gatherings because many students here enjoy clubbing and bar-hopping. Traveling around Europe is not nearly as easy and inexpensive as everyone says it is. And, of course, I do miss Brandeis. But these challenges are a healthy part of study abroad: learning to adjust to an unfamiliar culture and taking responsibility for yourself in a way that has never been asked of you before.
Even with the challenges, I am very excited to be here. The opportunity to live in a foreign city doesn’t come around frequently and, therefore, being able to really immerse myself into the culture of Seville is a privilege. For me, this semester is not about trying to see as many sights as I can or tasting a new flavor of tapas every evening. It’s about being a little bit European. And my ethnography experience in Sociology is sure to help me learn the part.
Taken during a weekend retreat, on which we were only allowed to speak Spanish. I heard maybe 5 minutes of English all weekend. The location was in the countryside north of Seville.
Seville is very bicycle-friendly. Most major streets have clearly designated bicycle lanes on the sidewalks. Additionally, Seville has its own bicycle-sharing program with bicycle docks throughout the city.
There have recently been several labor protests in Spain. This demonstration, right next to the University of Seville, is by garbagemen on strike. As a result of their strike, garbage has been piling up around the city.