Hola, I'M IN SEVILLA! But I'll rewind back to Wednesday, the day that I flew to Spain. After my parents dropped me off at the airport and we said our goodbyes, I dragged my bags across the LR airport and flew to Chicago. I had a four hour layover there, which consisted of some more dragging of my bags. And then I realized that I had committed the worst crime of a student studying abroad: I overpacked. I'll just say that by the time I found my gate in Madrid with my new friends, Paige and Dru, my right shoulder was raw from the weight of my backpack and duffel bag and I wished I hadn't thrown in eight pairs of shoes, a converter, four books, a tote bag, and so on... Because anything I could ever need is probably within a ten minute walk from my apartment here..
Anyway, after we arrived at the airport in Seville, we took separate taxis to our new homes. I was greeted outside by Lucia, my 21 year old Spanish sister, and Elvira, my host mom. Instead of a hug, I was greeted with two air kisses on either cheek by my new family, and so I encountered the first of the many cultural differences between the US and Spain. After explaining that I speak incredibly poor Spanish, I learned that Lucia speaks fluent English, which made my first day a lot easier. They showed me around their beautiful and pristine (oops, I'm really messy) apartment and then after lunch, I rested in my incredibly cute room for the afternoon. Honestly, the first day left me feeling overwhelmed. Here I was, with other students I didn't know, living with strangers in a foreign country, where they speak a different language. What in the world have I gotten myself into...
After I took the first of what will be many siestas and slept off some of my jet lag, I joined the rest of the gap year students from CIEE for dinner near my apartment in my neighborhood at about 8pm, which is a very early time to eat dinner in Spain. Another huge difference in culture is the eating schedule here. A normal day consists of breakfast about 8 or 9am, lunch between 2 and 3, and dinner between 9 and 10:30. After dinner on weekend nights, the young people here go out until about 3 or 4 in the morning. But even young children and families are out in the street or eating at cafes until about midnight or later: the city seems to never sleep! This is one part of the culture that I really, really like because I'm a night owl. Even though I've only been here for four days (only?!) I already feel adjusted to the new schedule. The rest of my time has been filled up with getting to know the other students, getting to know my really cool host family and city, participating in various orientation activities, and working on improving my terrible Spanish. Last night, a few of the other students and I went out to a discoteca, which is similar to a club in America. Everyone in Spain seems to know how to have a good time and I spent the night dancing to a mix of American and Spanish pop music with my new amigas.
This afternoon, I spent time with Lucia and she took me to a local park to meet some of her friends. And even though I understood absolutely nothing, I managed to hold my own in badminton and a game of cards. Later, the gap year group took a tour of Parque de Maria Luisa, which is a gorgeous public park here. The tour ended at the Plaza de Espana, built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair, and is what you usually see on a post card of Sevilla. The sun was setting, it was breezy, and the sight was absolutely beautiful.
In other words, I love Sevilla, my host mom is a fabulous cook, my host sister wears cool pants, my new friends are great, and a year here may not be enough. It's midnight and tomorrow I start my Spanish classes, so I'm done blogging for now.
Sending love back home,