As I complete the first couple weeks here with Veritas in Sevilla, Spain, I experience a combination of feeling like I’ve been here for so long, yet still feeling so new to the country and this way of life. It has been great to settle into classes and realize how thankful I am that every class I am taking here is just that much better because I’m actually living in Sevilla, Spain!
One day each week, our photography class takes a tour of different parts of the city, and the other day, we learn about how to best capture aspects of it. It’s been really neat to document my time here in Spain through pictures—it’s helping me see the city in a deeper way than I have even looked at Berkeley before. In my Spanish History of Art class we learn about a period of Spanish art, then go to a museum or building right down the street and see it in person.
Apparently, Sevilla has been a capital for the arts in Spain as well as a vacation site for the Roman Empire—there is a whole city of Roman ruins right down the road that we are going to visit this weekend! It is amazing to be toured around the city by my professors who absolutely love Spain and know so much about its history.
Triana, the district where I live, is a known birthplace of flamenco dancers, fútbol players, and tile factories. One of my favorite things so far has been to run along the river and through the winding cobblestone streets of Triana at sunset. I have to stop every 10 minutes to take pictures because each turn brings a new, unique, beautiful aspect of this charming city.
One of the most rewarding things has been establishing routines such as running—something that is really making it feel like I’m here to say. Through our meals together, my roommate and I have had so much fun getting to know our host mom Isabel. (Simply reviewing the verb tenses in my Spanish class has expanded my capacity to form sentences more than I would have thought.)
We’ve started watching a hilarious Jimmy Fallon-like talk show called el Hormiguero. It has the most random things, and we end up laughing so much every night. (My roommate and I even saw the talk show host on a billboard and felt proud that we recognized the face on it!)
We are also finding out so much about Isabel as the days go on. Not only did she live in the cathedral tower, but also was an artist for many years and helped paint the beautiful tiles on the Plaza de España. She even made hand-sewn flamenco dresses for her daughter and granddaughter. She walks to local shops every day to buy groceries: a different shop for the butcher, for fish, for produce, and for bread. In the two weeks we have been here she has yet to repeat a dish or make something we don’t like; in fact, her food gets better every day. She has even started referring to our dinners as “Restaurante de Isabel,” and rightly so.
Another routine I’m getting into is to start my days journaling at a local coffee shop. Packed with people enjoying breakfast in the mornings, theses shops switch to ice cream for the afternoon hours. (I can get a latte for about one euro. It’s amazing!)
I think when I got here I wanted to immediately have my “favorites” established, sort of like how when you visit a new city for a couple days, you go only to the best places and every second is new and exciting. But I’ve been learning when living in a city for awhile you’ll have a different kind of discovery process as you mix day-to-day things with the chance to explore and find places you love in the city.
I am so thankful for the Mission Mentors through the Veritas program. They have helped make the transition here so smooth by answering so many questions we have about the Spanish culture. They were even kind enough to have all of us at their house for a retreat this past weekend. I’m realizing how neat it is to learn about the attributes of God in a new language even when most of the service I spent doodling different snippets of phrases I could understand from the sermon in Spanish.
Through the week, we have met so many people in the ISA program (about 20!) who want to come to church with us Veritas students as well. How amazing to find that community even in another country! I am also excited that the Mission Mentors are going to connect us with some of the high schoolers here they know—after working at camp all summer it’s neat to be able to do similar work here in mentoring them (sometimes in Spanish, nonetheless!).
On to the next adventure.
Sarah Singh is a Political Economy Major at UC Berkeley, with a concentration in Natural Resource Markets in Developing Countries. She’s excited to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain with Veritas to become more comfortable using Spanish and to learn about the culture and religions of Sevilla while living in it. Sarah’s lived in the Bay Area her whole life and is excited to live in another part of the world this semester.
Make adventure and discovery part of your daily routine! Apply to study abroad and do mission work with Veritas Christian Study Abroad this summer. Summer deadlines are March 25 and April 25. For more info please visit veritasabroad.com and speak with us on our new online chat feature!