Adapted Repost from “Seville & More” | Alyssa W. | ISA Veritas Spain Fall 2019
First night in Seville: my roommate and I decided to take a stroll through our neighborhood. We walked in a few circles before finally figuring out where the main road was that led to the city center. As we kept walking, we found ourselves in an enormous two-story plaza with four bridges, a river where you can rent rowboats, and a large lit up fountain in the center. That was the moment it sunk in that this was going to be my home for the next 3 months. I couldn’t believe that such a beautiful piece of architecture was only a few minutes away from my house. This was the Plaza de España.
Whether it be watching flamenco dancing, listening to musicians sing and play guitar, or buying a pint of ice cream to share with my two close friends, this plaza became the place that I would go to relax and reflect on my experiences.
Though each day was unique in its own way, I’m going to share what a typical day looked like while I was studying abroad. After a few weeks went by I completely adjusted to this new routine and way of life.
I woke up at around 8am every morning to get ready for class. My host-mom would greet me with a cheerful “buenos días” when I went into the kitchen for breakfast. In Spain, toast with olive oil is very common for breakfast. That’s right, you can forget the pancakes, waffles, bacon and eggs. My host-mom always had peanut butter and nutella so I would put that on my toast instead. Though peanut butter is an American food, my host-mom always managed to get some from the Costco in Seville (yes, they have Costco).
After breakfast, I would walk to the ISA Study Center for my first class at 9am which was only a 5 minute walk. Through ISA, you have the option to take courses at Universidad de Sevilla, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, or the ISA Study Center. In order to take courses that counted for both my Spanish and Communications majors, I had to take the classes offered at the study center. My first class was an advanced Spanish class where we learned about advanced grammar and communication. After that I had an hour break until my next class, so I would either go for a walk in Parque María Luisa or go to the local coffee shop Mascarpone. Then I would go back to the study center for my Cross-Cultural leadership class.
After my last class, I would walk home for lunch. Although the typical time for lunch in Spain is around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, my host-mom would have it ready when my roommate and I came home at 1:30pm. I would use this time to talk with my host-mom about what I was learning in my classes and my plans for the upcoming week. After lunch I would take advantage of the “siesta” time and take a nap.
Don’t worry, I only took naps sometimes. There was always something to do during the afternoons and evenings so I made sure to explore the city. Some fun activities included exploring the shops in the center, going to las Setas, attending an international food festival, touring the Alcazar palace, or going to get gelato or crepes at a local shop.
Exploring the city meant a lot of walking. Just to give you an idea, a walk to the city center was about 20 minutes, plus another 20 minutes to Las Setas, and then a 40 minute walk back home. That adds up. One day I even walked 18 miles. Luckily, the weather was always beautiful with blue skies which made time outside super refreshing and enjoyable.
Speaking of beautiful weather, my friend’s host-family lived in an apartment complex that had an in-ground pool. For the first month, we would go to the pool everyday after class because of how hot it was (the beginning of September in Seville was in the 90s).
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I had a European film class from 6-8pm. We watched Spanish, German, Polish, Italian, and French movies. Our professor even took us out for drinks after our final exam to celebrate (how fun is that). After this class I would come home and eat dinner around 8pm with my roommate and host-mom. After dinner we would usually go to the Plaza de España to talk about our experiences and share ice cream. It honestly felt like we were living a dream.
On Wednesdays I would go to our weekly Bible study at a coffee shop after dinner, and then walk about 30 minutes to an intercambio event where I practiced my Spanish conversational skills with locals.
Later in the semester, I went over Macarena’s house once a week to spend time with her daughters and tutor them in English. Her daughter Paula and I would go for walks together and speak in Spanish. They also invited me to a Spanish tour of the city where I got to learn about legends of Seville while witnessing the entire city light up for the Christmas season.
Because we only had classes Monday through Thursday, we had 3-day weekends. We had excursions through ISA to Gibraltar, Granada, Portugal, and Morocco. Other trips we took during the semester were to Northern Spain, Switzerland, and Italy.
Though traveling was amazing, I always looked forward to returning home Sunday night to spend time with my host-mom and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Then it was off to bed and the start of a new week.
During the weekends we didn’t travel, we still found ways to make the most of our time by attending a Futbol game, volunteering at an ESL outreach weekend though ISA Veritas, and visiting a local church on Sunday.
Make the Most of It
I hope you have more of a glimpse of what it’s like to study abroad. My advice would be to put yourself out there by attending events in the city, talking to new people, and planning weekend trips. This might be the only time in your life that you have this much free time to travel throughout Europe. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to take days to relax and make the most of the Spanish siesta!