Well, it’s been a long and tiring first month back in the States. Readjusting to English, American culture, work, classes, and pretty much everything that is included with reverse culture shock has shown up. It’s time for my final post, which will probably be my favorite because it allows me to reminisce on Sevilla.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being back home, but at the same time, I’m missing Sevilla y España hardcore. Too bad the tickets are $700 to get there….
Anywho, there are a lot of Spanish-speaking countries in the world and each probably have their own pros and cons for studying there, but I’m going to sell Sevilla to you. I went to all the major Spanish cities last semester (Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Sevilla, Cadiz, and Valencia) and each have their own flair . I tried to see as much as possible in the 2-3 days I visited, but I still believe Sevilla is the best in Spain. And I’m not biased at all or anything….
Now, to answer the question you all having been waiting for: Why Sevilla?
1. The People.
The Andalucians are amazing. The first time I remember talking to one was when my friend Matt and I were wandering around the city at midnight or so before the program began. We were completely lost and had no idea where we were. We ran into this elderly Spanish couple who kindly directed us to where we needed to be. The woman walked with us until they had to go the opposite direction and kept up friendly small talk, putting up with our conversational errors.
Don’t get me wrong, all Spaniards (and really, Europeans in general) were nice. I never ran into anti-American sentiment but Andalucians were the best in my opinion. They were always up to helping out if I was lost or didn’t know what to say. They were always up to conversation, even though I was afraid to attempt it. More importantly, they’re proud. They’re proud of their culture and who they are.
2. The Food
As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of food, I couldn’t wait to get to try non-American food, particularly authentic Spanish food. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.
Los Coloniales, right next to the Cathedral, was my favorite restaurant. In the photo to the right: In the very back is breaded chicken in a creamy, almond sauce. In front of it is Patatas Bravas (potatoes in what is best described as ketchup, mayo, and hot sauce, but so much better). To the right of that is Roquefort cheese, and finally in the front is Solomillo al Whiskey. Definitely my favorite spread by far.
But in Andalucia and Sevilla, they’re known for their tapas. It’s typical to go out and get a few tapas and just split it between everyone. The jamon (ham) and seafood is just incredible and the food in general is amazing. You can try a lot of interesting things such as bull’s tail, chicken blood, and fried fish eggs. I could rant and rave about the food, but you’d just have to try it to understand.
3. The Culture
Sevilla is known for multiple aspects of its culture. The biggest two are Semana Santa y Fería de Abril. I never got to experience them, but it definitely gives me a reason to go back and are on my bucket list. These are the two biggest festivals in Spain and Fería is only celebrated in Sevilla. Semana Santa is translated to Holy Week and it’s when each church builds a float with the statue of Mary on it and processes through the city. Fería is a week of flamenco, family, and socializing. Apart from that, Sevilla is known for their flamenco which arguably started in Sevilla. It’s a great show of dancing, singing, and guitar play.
4. The Language
I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe that the best part of me studying in Sevilla was the language acquisition. It’s a different type of Spanish and, according to locals, it’s Andalucian, not Spanish. I know there are a wide variety of dialects and I heard a lot of them in Spain. They all probably have their impact on how you learn the language and how you develop your skills.
In Andalucian, they drop every /s/ at the end (like ma o meno instead of mas o menos) and similarly with the /d/ in between vowels, for example. It was definitely difficult to learn what they were saying and it took a week or so to get used to it, but it’s now become a part of my way of speaking. It’s now ma o meno y gracia for me. But, I definitely can tell it helped. While in Spain, we ran into a lot of different Spanish-speaking people from outside of Spain, and I never had an issue with understanding them because Andalucian was so difficult.
5. The History
Sevilla is deep in history. It has the Alcazar, which used to be the home of the Spanish king; the Cathedral and Giralda, which is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world and houses Christopher Columbus’ tomb; the Torre de Oro, which was a watch tower when Sevilla used to be one of the main ports; and the Plaza de España, which was the home of the 1929 World Expo and makes cameos in the following films: Star Wars: Episode I, Prince of Persia, and The Dictator.
Points of interest (see below for more photos):
- The Alcazar has one of the most beautiful gardens and a mix of Arabic architecture. It definitely was fit for the king and is a big part of Sevilla.
- The Cathedral, which was a mosque until 1492, has a beautiful exterior. The inside is even more beautiful and holds Christopher Columbus’ remains.
- The Giralda is attached and is a tower that offers a breathtaking view of the city.
- Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, lived and was imprisoned in Sevilla. Diego Velázquez was born in Sevilla as well.
6. The Sports
As a sports fan, I loved that there were two football teams in Sevilla. You have to choose which team to support quickly. Both teams are normally good and regardless of who you support, and the games are a blast. It’s a great atmosphere to live in a city where there are two competitive teams which divide the city’s support.
The supporters can get pretty feisty at times. Players need police escorts into the games at the other team’s stadium. Other than football, they do have other spectator sports and an an Olympic Stadium which often brings big events to the city.
Hopefully this has enticed you to study abroad in Sevilla, or at least visit it. I know there are plenty of things I have forgotten to mention that just add to why I love Sevilla. I’m anxiously waiting for my return there.