Surviving in Spain without a Señora

Kayleigh Fladung is a student at University of Dayton and an ISA featured blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

I always knew that Spain was where I wanted to spend my semester abroad. After choosing a city and a program, the next question was a tricky one: live in a homestay or an apartment?  Most students in Spain decide to live in a homestay. This means living in a Spanish home, usually with a Señora or a family with a few children. Homestays provide all of your meals and laundry, allow for daily practice with the language and give students a “home away from home” environment. I knew all about the perks of a homestay but something made me feel that it wasn’t the best option for my semester in Sevilla.

The view we wake up to each morning from our apartment’s kitchen window

After going back and forth with the issue, I finally decided an apartment was the route for me, sent in my deposit and moved on with my planning.

I felt great about my decision until about a week ago when my roommate, Shannon, and I watched each of our new friends hop off of the bus and eagerly greet their new families. Only about 10 of us are in apartments, making us a distinct minority. I thought about our lonely, empty apartment and felt my stomach drop. I had never been to this city before and there was no one to help us get acclimated once we were alone in our new place.

The ISA Sevilla staff took us to the apartment, showed us everything and explained how to get to a few important places before giving us our keys and leaving us on our own. We decided to go out and buy a few necessary items, eager to make the apartment feel like home.

On our way back from the store, Shannon and I got very lost. It seemed like every building looked like ours and we nervously wandered the streets, hoping to somehow stumble down the right block.

When we finally found our way back I longed for the adorable families all of my friends were sitting down to dinner with at their new homes. I worried about shopping for myself and finding my way to my classes. If we got this lost on the first night, what else was in store for the semester?

All of this happened exactly a week ago. Looking back, I can’t believe that I felt so nervous. Our apartment is adorable and we have quickly made it our own. Shannon and I usually end up eating meals together and have taken to sitting at our kitchen table, which is placed in between two pretty French door windows, talking, laughing and listening to music for hours. It is fun to hear our friends talk about their señoras and their daily encounters with their Spanish families, but I have enjoyed figuring it all out on my own.

Setting the table for our own “family” dinner

We’ve had some interesting adventures, whether we are trying to navigate the aisles of the nearest supermercado or the streets of our neighborhood. The man who runs the frutería at the end of our street charmed us into returning several times and we recently found a café that we hope to frequent as well.

We both signed up for intercambios with Sevillanos to give us the Spanish practice we are missing. We have each successfully prepared and enjoyed new Spanish meals in our quaint kitchen. And, after a few failed attempts, we have figured out how all of our appliances work (the coffee maker and stove were strangely confusing to us).

I know that there will be more bumps along the way, but we’ve started to laugh off our mistakes and are quickly adapting to our new home. Most importantly, I don’t regret my decision to live in an apartment. The start of my semester has been a blast and I’m proud of how I’ve made a life for myself here…sin una Señora.

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