Indiana University Overseas Study

Debora Estrada Lobo

It’s been almost a month since I first arrived in Seville, yet I feel as if I have been here much longer while also feeling as if yesterday was my first day here. Seville is a beautiful city, its streets are always busy and there is a contagious and calm lifestyle. My fellow classmates and I like to describe it as a “pueblo” within a city. A city that is not only rich in culture but also with an interesting history.

Throughout these past weeks, every person in my group has experienced different hardships or experiences; however, my experiences have sometimes been very different from the rest of the group. I should start by saying that I am both bilingual and bicultural. And although being completely fluent in Spanish has its benefits, it also seems to have some restraining aspect.

Being fluent in Spanish does allow you to better communicate with Spaniards and fend for yourself; however, speaking Spanish so fluently seems to take the charm away from being a foreigner. This does not mean that I’m not interacting and making friends with locals, it simply means that locals seem more interesting in talking to those who do not resemble or talk like Spaniards. Maybe they just like having a hard time talking to someone! Oddly enough, I’m not the only one with this interesting setback—a fellow bilingual Hoosier is also experiencing this phenomenon. Having been on the other side on many occasions, I think the charm comes from the interest and the effort a person makes to get to know the culture and country that he or she is visiting. Nonetheless, the fluid interactions we have with the locals can be deeper, more interesting, two-sided and very rewarding. While I’m in Spain, I will take in as much Spanish interaction as possible, foreign charm or not.

The non-language barrier has also had an effect on my host family. Concha, my host mother, has commentated on the ease and difference it makes to have a fluent Spanish speaker in her home. Not only do we easily talk about our days and deeper subjects, but my biculturalism has also been appreciated. Since I arrived I have become involved in the kitchen and other small house activities that other students have not been engaged in due to a difference in culture or simply due to some communication issues.

However, whether you are bilingual, studying Spanish or just starting to learn the language, your experiences will be eye-opening and a great adventure! With only a month into my study abroad, I can already claim that some of my most wonderful memories are those that I have formed during this experience abroad.

Debora Estrada Lobo - exploring contemporary Spain

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