I have now been in Sevilla for only ten days and I already feel settled in. When I was following my host family through the windy cobblestone roads to where I’d be living for this semester I was sure that I would not be able to find my way around the city. This city does not exactly follow a predictable grid pattern like New York, and the street names seem to change every twenty meters so learning the area is not easy. I am proud to say that I can now navigate to and from my host institution without using Google Maps. I’m sure I’ll come across many more reasons, but at the moment I love Sevilla because it carries the energy of a city with the comfort of a small town. There are masses of people as is common all over Europe but instead of this creating an unpleasant traffic situation, it fills the streets with people who are conversing with each other.
Everybody walks here; its one of the many perks of the small size of Sevilla. Everything is within walking distance, and if it seems a bit too far then there is a convenient option for a city bike or electric scooter. No matter the time, the day, or the weather, the streets are always packed with people walking. One aspect that I love about Sevilla so far is the people. I rarely hear any Americans, and if I do they are likely in the same program as me. Living in a home in the heart of the city is the perfect opportunity to fully immerse in the host culture with the locals. My host is so kind and goes above and beyond to ensure that we are comfortable. The program that I am enrolled in has all meals included which are provided by the host families. Since three meals a day every day is a pretty large task to have to do for us, I was expecting to help cook and clean. Every host is different, but one thing that surprised me is the little that my host allows me to help out in the kitchen. I try to insist on helping but he truly does not expect it and was surprised when I offered to load the dishwasher.
I have started my intensive Spanish course which has dramatically increased my confidence in speaking. Relearning the basics of Spanish grammar has been really important because while some aspects are basics that I learned in middle school, I was surprised at how much I had forgotten. While I am studying here I plan on volunteering in a local school to help the students improve their English. I am excited to have the opportunity to engage with these kids and to improve my Spanish while being of help to them.
The biggest culture shock that I experienced here would be the difference in mealtimes. Breakfast is a piece of toast with coffee whenever you wake up, lunch is typically at 3:00 and dinner is usually at 10:00. Since I am used to getting to Foss dining hall closer to 5:00 for dinner at Colby, this has been new for me. Also, I had obviously known about the included siesta in the schedule of the Spanish day, but I did not expect it to be so enforced. In a few of our first days here, we went out after lunch between 2-6 to find that everything was closed. While I’ve had to adapt the typical schedule of my day, I otherwise have not experienced anything extremely shocking here in Sevilla.