It’s mid-November in Sevilla and I’m still wearing short sleeved t-shirts and catching rays. What a strange feeling for a Seattleite!
I’ve been in Sevilla since the beginning of September and my time here is coming to an end very shortly in December. When I first got here, it felt just like Christmas everyday – discovering new things, eating interesting foods not known to Americans, walking down streets that crisscross in downtown ending up walking in circles and getting lost… All the fun we had! The best part I think was meeting the group of people that I would be spending time with for the next four months and exploring together. There was an aura of hope and excitement in the air!
Now that we’re past the mid-point of the study abroad experience, I can reflect and say that those same sentiments that I had when I first stepped off the plane and asked for directions in Spanish still are with me – it’s so incredible to be in a foreign country and actually get by with the language and different customs! The everyday challenges are something that I really like, although I do admit there are times when meanings are lost in translation and you feel ridiculous when trying to describe exactly what it is that you want to say. The customs are different, too. I eat dinner with my family here around 10 pm at night, and I think that’s the hardest to get used to. The eating habits here are very different from ours at home, so for the first few days I was a little frustrated by the long hours in between meals, but then I learned how to manage that.
The classes I take are all in Spanish and while the concepts may not be too difficult, the language barrier is there – although the amount of Spanish that I’ve learned is tremendous – especially the conversational stuff! The program offers “intercambios” for each student, so I have one Spanish friend that I hang out with and talk to who wants to learn English, so we talk in English for a bit and then move to Spanish. It’s definitely way easier to hold a conversation now, and it’s become so much easier to just meet Spaniards and make friends!
The traveling has also been great – I’ve visited places that I never thought I would go and I’ve learned so much! Every weekend so far I’ve gone to a different city, and a few more big trips are planned for the end of the quarter here. I’ve checked off touristing Cadiz, wine tasting in Jerez (which is known for its wine), hiking in the Sierra Nevadas, the Alhambra in Granada, and riding camels in Africa! I am also going to visit Barcelona, Nantes, London, Paris, Gibraltar, Cordoba and Toledo… it’s a lot of traveling at very low costs, so it’s worth it. The hostel experience is unlike any other and it’s so much fun meeting people from all over the world while you’re there! Balancing out the traveling with school isn’t bad – I just work hard during the school week, usually at a small café because I’ve had the best coffee in the world here (although trips to Starbucks still do happen!! I am a Seattleite at heart…).
That’s just a brief summary of my time here. I am keeping a blog going more about the everyday things I do here as a little memory I can look back on and so that my mom and friends can keep track of me since I don’t get to talk to them as often. If it interests you: oliviameetsworld.blogspot.com.