Transatlantic connection: student shares travel experience from abroad

Today I sat in Bodega Santa Cruz Las Columnas casually looking up at la Catedral de Sevilla eating jamón and queso manchego. Just over three weeks ago I lingered in wonder at the majestic Giralda tower as I approached the Catedral for the very first time.

After walking the streets for a week with my map in my back pocket, water bottle protruding from my messenger bag and Canon hanging from my neck, the stench of a true tourist began to wear off.

Instead of searching for the next monument, I began to venture from my seventh floor apartment unguarded with only a vague idea of the direction I wanted to take. In making this bold decision I had broken the shackles of my need to “experience” Sevilla.

It wasn’t until after a lecture from my cultural analysis professor, Mary Alice Soriero, that I understood the magnitude of that decision. As an American I had been guided by a “live to work” philosophy to check off all of the monuments and famous tapaterias from my “experienced” list.

The first week in Sevilla was a rush of adrenaline driven by a need deeply embedded in my mental composition from a very young age. This rush was provoking me to find and document all of the most important places in Sevilla.

Each morning I woke up, mapped out my route and made a beeline for the next tribute on my list. I certainly was doing and experiencing a lot of Sevilla, so much that I had to keep a map as a reference when tagging photos and explaining to friends.

As the days continued I became exhausted and cranky. The magnificent sights I was experiencing became only buildings and statues.

Finally, classes began and Mary Alice addressed the topic of cultural differences. The class was asked to compile a list of apparent differences that we had experienced since our arrival in Sevilla.

As the list continued to grow, I began to see an overarching trend.

Spaniards didn’t conduct their day around a need for productivity – instead, they organized their day around leisure time with good company and great food.

Unlike the American innate tendency to be “doing” something, the people of Sevilla spend the majority of their time simply being and effortlessly becoming a part of something greater than their individual selves.

Instantly I was captivated by this idea. My desire to emulate these actions allowed me to leave the apartment that day. So far the transition has been interesting.

It’s not always easy to slow a pace you have been maintaining for nearly your entire life. Fortunately, the rewards are immediate and infinitely greater than the struggle.

Even in this short time, I have discovered that there are wonderful things about actually allowing myself to “be” in Sevilla.

Somewhere between frantically searching the streets for the nearest bus station and understanding the entirety of a menu at my favorite tapateria the city actually became a part of me.

Studying abroad is about so much more than simply doing all the things you’ve dreamed of or see all the places you’ve admired.

No matter how many stories you hear about a place or how many times you search it on Google images, the impact of actually being there is unrivaled.

The stylish European clothes, the souvenirs, the accent, not even photos you bring home will change you the same way as the moment when you first glance at the world’s largest wooden structure in Plaza de la Encarnación.

If you are perceptive enough to allow yourself to really be in the city you will find that even when you leave, a part of the city will be embedded in your soul and a part of you in the soul of the city.

The life and soul of this city is undoubtedly worth showing the rest of the world. Throughout this semester I hope to share with you at least some small part of Sevilla.

I will take you to restaurants, markets, secret gems and the monuments that make Sevilla famous.

Sevilla has such a rich history and culture that not only is told through textbooks, but that actually lives in the streets.

¡Bienvenidos a Sevilla!



[email protected]