Final Reflections

I have been home for about a couple of months now but it feels like my time in Spain was a lifetime ago. Part of me is somewhere wandering the streets of Triana and the rest longing to join her. I miss Sevilla and my life there. It took two weeks to adjust back to my American way of life and to adjust to the time change. I have not taken a nap since returning and am convinced that I will perish soon without one. Regardless, I had an amazing experience and would like to share my post trip relfections.

What I miss the most….

There are so many things that I miss about Spain such as the weather, the smell of churros in the air as I walked to class, and the people who smiled even when it rained. It would be easy to say that I miss the culture but that does not really explain it. I miss seeing the street performers either dancing Flamenco or posing as statues. The coffee shops with their perfect cafe and hanging out by the river with friends. There is so much that I miss but there are a few things that I miss the most.

For starters, I miss the people that I have met along the way. I made friends and we went on adventures all over the city. From shopping to clubbing to meeting up for study groups, the friends I made in Sevilla where what made the expereince so amazing. Not only did we get to enjoy classes together but the Spanish Studies Abroad program brought us to some fascinating places such as Italica and Cadiz.

The trips that we took in the program were a lot of fun. The old Roman cities that barely have their foundations left, the museums full of history, and the rich history of the places we visited were stunning. The old architecture was inspiring, the intricate details on the cathedral to the statues that lined the streets. It was a beautiful city and I am excited to see it again one day.

I am unable to fully express the way I miss Sevilla. The smells, the food, the places. It was as though I had gone to a whole new universe. Looking out my apartment window in Sevilla, I saw people walking and talking with friends, heading out to get tapas, and enjoying the beautiful weather. In my apartment back in the states, I see empty sidewalks and people occasionally driving by. The differences are shocking but I love both places. There is something to be said about being home and although I miss Spain, I will have the opportunity to visit again.

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Culture Shock

When traveling one often finds themselves in a place very different  from their home. It is difficult to adjust at times and to accept that which is strange, however, in order to assimilate and adjust one must accept these differences and embrace the new culture for what it is. To learn to live by the new standards and to overcome the culture shock.

Upon arriving in Spain, I had no idea what to expect as I have never travelled to Europe before. The first thing I noticed was how weird the money was. Very colorful, different sizes, and the coins were simply bizarre. It felt as though they had modelled the Euro off of Monopoly. However, it is much easier to differentiate between the bills and I have come to enjoy the colorful paper.

“Euros” by MD5050 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Another aspect that really threw me off was the way in which everyone greets each other. I am used to a hand shake or a fist bump, but that is not the norm here at all. Instead they present two kisses, one on each cheek to greet and to say goodbye. I was very uncomfortable at first and had to resist my urger to punch people in the face. Although I am still not used to this way of greetings I have overcome my urge to react negatively to this custom and am usually able to partake without feeling awkward. It is something so strange to me and I find myself wanting to scrub my face afterwards….apparently it is three kisses in France…I could not imagine. It just seems too personal for me, especially since people do it when first meeting someone. However, I have kept my opinions to myself and am slowly starting to embrace the culture.

“Leche” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

Finally, the most abusrd thing I have come into contact with while here in Spain, is the milk. They keep their milk in paper cartons, which in itself is not weird. However, these cartons are not refrigerated at all before opening them. I am not sure what type of black magic is happening here but to me, milk should always be refrigerated. Right now there are two cartons of milk in the cupboard. How does it not spoil? I have no idea. At least it has not made me sick.

I am grateful that there are only a few aspects of my new life that I struggle to grasp and incorporate into my actions and perceptions of society. I have found that the people are great and the culture is rich. I will not be able to fully immerse myself until I am able to accept the culture and overcome the shock.

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Sevilla: My Second Home

“Torre de Oro” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

What feels like an ancient city filled with tourists and modern inventions is where my journey began. The cobblestone streets and horses pulling wagons was something out of a documentary but yet there it was, actually happening in front of me. I watched as the horses jogged alongside buses and stopped at red lights too. This city is a mix of new and old, the past and the furure as if the two were the same. The intricate designs on older buildings were absolutely stunning, it still amazes me how people are able to carve such beauty into stone that then lasts for centuries. The Torre de Oro is an old watch tower that was built to maintain those who traveled on the canal. It is not actually made out of gold but has earned the name due to the glittering spectacle that it becomes in the sunlight.

“Catedral” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

The city is home to the third largest catherdral in the world. This amazing structure is not only a place of worship and history, but also a magnificent piece of art that has stunned people since it was built. Originally a mosque, the tower as the only remaining peice of its past, the catherdral draws in tourists from its sheer massiveness to its intricate design. Here lies the remains of Christopher Columbus, a hero to the people of Spain. I found myself in complete awe at how enormous and beautiful this structure is.

“View from the Tower” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

Words cannot accurately describe how inspiring it is to see the dedication and hard work of those who have come before us. The inside is just as spectacular. I have never felt so small before. The gold, the statues, and the paintings were quite amazing, but what was truly fascinating were the small glimpses of the mosque that once resided there. It is a show of power and the strenght of Catholic Spain and I found myself wondering how anyone could ever achieve such a task in modern society.

“The tomb of Columbus” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

Aside from the cathedral, there are many beautiful sights to be seen. The buildings are all quite magnificent but so are the parks, although it is a city, there are many trees and places to embrace the beauty of nature. I found myself drawn to “el rio” which divides El Centro from the neighborhoods of  Los Remedios y Triana. It is actually a man made canal but those who call Sevilla their home simply call it the river. Here groups of friends can walk along the path and chit chat or enjoy “el botellon”. This is an interesting activity that the youth of Spain enjoy, simply put, it is social drinking in the streets or in this case, by the river.

“El Rio” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

One of my favorite places is “La Plaza de Espana” which includes a beautiful park and a massive government building. Here people enjoy walking under the shade of the trees, taking boat rides in the small mote, and listening to music as they enjoy the beauty of this remarkable place. I find myself drawn to the wooded parts, the heat here is unbelievable, but also there are so many birds and I love to sit and listen to them sing. There are many plazas here in Sevilla, but this one holds a special place in my heart. I have pet many dogs here and have tried to pet the stray cats as well. I feel as though it is a magical place of peace in such a busy city. It makes one forget about the worries of this world and takes you back to childhood when all that mattered was play.

“Plaza de Espana” by H. Schofield (CC by 2.0)

Sevilla is quite an amazing city and although I have been here for a month and a half, I still have not been able to explore every part. I am not a city girl, but this one has certainly grown on me. I am excited to continue my adventures and embrace a culture that is so different from my own.

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