Courtney Fraley is a student at Baldwin Wallace University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with a her study abroad office at Baldwin Wallace. Courtney is studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain on an ISA Spring 1 program.
“Hey, mom! Did you get my postcard?“- I asked.
“Yes, I did, but, you sent it in January and it just got to us in March. It took more than 6 weeks to get here!” – She replied.
[Awkward pause] “Actually, it only took a week. I wrote the post card in January with the whole-hearted intention of sending it, but I was too scared to buy stamps. I, finally, mustered up enough courage at the end of February to go, but, then, I was too scared to put it in the correo box so that took another week. Now, you have it and the next time I send one it will not take as long.“
Yes, it took me almost a month and a half to find the courage to buy stamps. I made every excuse in the book not to go: it’s raining, my feet hurt, there is dog poop on the sidewalk, I cannot cross the street, the list goes on and on. The thought of asking someone I did not know, in Spanish, for stamps made me quiver with fear. For those of you who do not know me, I am not a timid person and I always go after what I want with confidence and determination so this was not normal and some times very frustrating.
I knew before I studied abroad that I would really need to push myself to step outside of my comfort zone in order to take advantage of everything this opportunity had to offer, but some times it just seemed too hard.
I chose to study abroad in Sevilla because of the eccentric culture and vibrant enthusiasm. I wanted to become a part of it, to really dive-in head first and be a Sevillana (a person that lives in Sevilla). Once I reflected on the fact that I was keeping myself from vital experiences, I held my breathe, closed my eyes, and jumped right in!
There is no better way for me to learn how to be a part of the Sevillana culture than from the Sevillanos themselves. They have a distinct flair about them that makes them unique and personable. They have virtues that I have been able to learn and apply in order to fully grasp the Sevillana culture and my study abroad experience.
My professor in my Cultural Anthropology of Andalucia class told us that Sevillanos just want to live life and live it well. I have learned that they do this by being confident, kind, and flexible. Surprisingly enough, what I learned about the people was exactly what I needed in order to push aside my fears and enjoy this experience. Since then, I have been mistaken for a Sevillana several times, figured out the bus system, asked for directions, and made a Spanish friend. I just needed to hone in on my inner Spanish self.
I can do it! Learning this from the Sevillanos has made it possible for me to open up my mind and heart to this experience. I was able to rediscover the confidence and courage I once had in order to face a new culture and way of life. I hope I can continue to grow in these newly acquired virtues for the rest of my time in Sevilla and apply them to my life when I return home.
“Life begins where fear ends.”