Seville welcomed me five days ago. During those five days I have experienced so many adjustments to the new culture and way of living in Seville. Starting at the Seville airport a friend of mine named Brooke wanted to have some tea to drink to wake herself up. Since we had all been traveling for about 20 hours and few of us had slept on the plane (and those who did didn’t get much rest), everyone was tired but excited to be in Seville and explore the city that we would be spending the next four months in. When Brooke asked for tea at a little cafe that appeared to be a place where one bought food to take away, it was served in a ceramic mug. Despite being served in a mug, the tea was to be consumed standing instead of sitting. There were tall bar-like tables where people could stand to consume their food and drink but no chairs were in sight. Here stands the European culture at its essence – enjoying a leisurely life and having no urgency to rush.
After waiting for someone from the Center for Cross Cultural Studies (CC-CS) staff to arrive at the airport to pick us up, we were shuttled outside to where the buses waited to pick up travelers arriving from all over the world. We approached a moving van with an open trunk and a Spanish man standing on the elevator that moves packages from the ground up into the truck. From previous experiences traveling to Costa Rica and to New Zealand and Australia, I expected that we would store our bags in the under storage of a travel bus and board the bus. Instead, we were told that our bags went in the truck and we went in the travel bus that was parked next to the moving truck. Ha, what a joke! But no, some thirty American students continued to load our bags into the moving truck and board the bus. The entire situation was quite comical, but I have to admit that it was a very efficient – and likely cost-effective – solution to transporting so many people with such large and heavy bags (mind you that everyone is staying in Seville for four months).
Once we arrived at the hotel, we were given some time to freshen up and get situated before almuerzo, or lunch, at 2:30 p.m. The eating schedule in Seville is much different that the eating schedule in the United States, but that is only one of the adjustments to make and the least of my worries. Following lunch we enjoyed life like a real sevillano with siesta. Siesta is known as the time to rest and for everyone to have a break to his or her day. Many shops close during this time and even if people are not sleeping or resting, they are having a cafe or enjoying the outdoors in a nearby plaza. Since I had only slept five hours the night before I left and hadn’t slept on the plane, I crashed in my room and fell into a deep two-hour nap only to wake up to my alarm alerting me that I had to get myself together for a brief orientation followed by cena, or dinner. After showering, my roommate Crysta arrived and I greeted her in my towel. First impressions are quite something, aren’t they?
That evening after a short introduction to the program and dinner at 8:30 p.m. I went to a local bar/restaurant with some girls in my program. There are about 75 girls and five boys; somehow study abroad programs always seem to attract the female gender more. Walking in the streets of Seville was such a great experience to be out in the fresh air after being jet-lagged and to get a first glimpse of the city and culture. Usuallysevillanos go out to enjoy a drink among friends or tapas around 11 or 11:30 p.m., so the fact that we were out at 10 p.m. meant that not many people were roaming the streets yet. Having a glass of wine or a beer is a huge part of the Spanish culture. Also I’ve found that sevillanos drink wine and beer and rarely have mixed drinks or martinis. Several students who traveled to Seville in the spring last year told me of the stark contrast between the “going out” scene in the States and the “going out” scene in Spain. Immediately I took note of the difference.
That night we experienced another essence of Seville that I mentioned before – taking one’s time. When we ordered our glasses of vino or cerveza, we asked the bar tender if we should pay right after we ordered our drinks or before we were ready to leave. He responded quite strongly that we should take our time and there is no rush, no rush at all. Step one of ridding myself of the American vibe that I emit…slow down!
A student at Lehigh University, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, during the spring semester of 2012. I posted about my adventures and cultural experiences at SenseSeville. Please note that these posts were written during my time in Spain.
Next I will discuss my homestay and living location.