Sevilla is, how they call, a “pañuelo de papel”. You really can’t go anywhere without seeing someone you know. For me, this was a big change from my big city of Atlanta, to this “big small town” or “pueblo grande” of Sevilla. The small town feel is probably one of my favorite things so far about this city.
Something I was never good at at home was getting out of my house and enjoying the city. Here in Sevilla I feel a bit of a time pressure as my months slowly trickle away. I have tried very hard to get out and about, which has really made Sevilla my own. I’ve made friends with the people who are also studying abroad with CIEE, and we are a pretty big group. Whenever we go out, we cause quite a scene. About 20 American students fitting around a restaurant table or squeezing into a local bar causes a bit of a ruckus (and then of course we all want to pay separately which creates a whole other commotion). We’ve found a bit of a niche in a bar called “Phoenix Pub” which is close to our houses and can accommodate our large numbers.
This is the CIEE group from the Spring Semester!
I’ve also signed up through CIEE or through the school we go to, CLIC, for an “intercombio.” This is a language exchange opportunity where you meet a Spaniard who is practicing their English, and they help you with your Spanish, too! My intercombio has become a close friend and exchanging languages doesn’t even feel like work! We talk about books, politics, our siblings, our dogs…. Whatever suits our fancy!
Gonzalo and I with our friend Seil when we went out for tapas in Plaza Alfalfa
My host sister goes to a school right next to my house, so I asked my host mom if she could talk to the English professor there and maybe I could meet some of the girls my age. Some confusing technological issues later and I was talking with two girls who wanted to hang out with me! I went out with them one Friday night and met more people than I can remember. As I as walking home from school the other day, I ran into three of them who I recognized from that night, and as custom says, I stopped and kissed them on the cheeks and we had a small chat before I headed home for lunch.
Another activity that I have added to my day is a daily visit to the gym. The instructors there are so sweet. The instructor that I go to mostly is Ana. She has a very strong accent from living in the south of Spain. It’s called an “Andaluz” accent. I love it. One time she said to us “vamoa eh-tira” which had little to no significance to me until I thought a little. She said “vamos a estirar” which means ‘we’re going to stretch’. The other girls, Silvia and Virginia, are also sweet and helpful. It’s so nice to go there where they care about you and know your name (and mine is a rather difficult one).
I feel like I have worked really hard to become a part of the city of Sevilla. I am integrating into the culture and the community. When I see someone I know on the street I instinctively greet them, and as I spend more and more time here, I meet more people and stop even more! I feel like this city is mine now, a part of me, and I’m so lucky to have such a great home.