“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” — Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey
With my days left in Sevilla hitting single digits I can’t help but think back to the very beginning of this journey and how it has changed me. All of the planning, decision-making and nerves about studying abroad quickly turned into the trip of a lifetime once I stepped off the plane in Madrid three months ago. Spain is a beautiful country, and Sevilla is rich in history, culture and tradition. I’ve seen my fair share of Spanish cities over the past few months, and while each has something special to offer, I always find myself thankful for choosing Sevilla. I could list one hundred things that make Sevilla uniquely wonderful, but here are five of the things I’ll always remember about my time here.
1. Semana Santa
I was blown away by Sevilla’s transformation for the week-long Semana Santa festivities. Crowds of people lined every street and music filled the air as processions carrying large floats, called pasos, slowly made their way through the streets. There are many hermandades, groups of men, that carry the pasos through the streets, beginning and ending at the church they represent. Each hermandad wears a specific color or signifier that sets them apart from the rest and make them easier to identify. I thought that all of the pasos and crowds of people during Semana Santa made for a beautiful week full of tradition and celebration.
2. Feria de Abril (Sevilla Fair)
Sevilla is full of little shops that sell flamenco dresses, fans, combs and more. No one seemed to be wearing these things regularly so I was confused as to why there were so many, until Feria de Abril. During Feria, most of the women wear flamenco dresses, carry fans and wear flowers and combs in their hair while the men wear outfits that look like suits specifically made for warmer weather. A portion of the city is transformed to accommodate many little tents, casetas, for the week and a large portada is lit to begin the celebrations. For the rest of the week, people gather inside of and around the casetas and dance Sevillana, which is a kind of flamenco dance. This celebration is a lot of fun to be a part of and made for a very fun week.
3. Tapas, tapas & more tapas
I have grown accustomed to the differences in Spanish eating times and portions after living here for three months but one aspect of Spanish cuisine is definitely my favorite: tapas. Tapas are basically little appetizers that people order with drinks and share among friends. There are many different kind of tapas and many different places to get them. Sometimes the tapas are small and simple, like a plate of olives, but at many bars you can order meat and seafood that are basically served as mini portions of a regular dish. I have honestly not had any tapas that I disliked and am trying to enjoy as many as possible before leaving Spain!
4. Las plazas
It may sound silly, but I think I will really miss the many plazas that cover Sevilla. Some are smaller than others but each plaza is filled with something special, whether it is gorgeous orange trees, lots of shops or a single musician performing. There are different things happening in each plaza each day but the thing I love most about them is that they are community meeting spots. Plazas are full of people grabbing a bite to eat, catching up with friends or enjoying a night out. I have spent a lot of time in the plazas of Sevilla and will miss the way they effortlessly gather people and give you a place to relax for five minutes or to spend an evening with friends.
5. La gente (The People)
Admittedly, I have spent a good portion of my time here with other ISA students and people studying abroad in Sevilla. However, since my first day here I felt very welcomed by the local community. The people in Sevilla are laid-back and very friendly. Even though the accent and dialect of Spanish spoken in Sevilla is different, I think that my Spanish has improved, and I have learned so much about Spain, Spanish language and travel from conversations with people from Sevilla. Within this medium-sized city with the charm of a small, southern town, the people of Sevilla made living here a great experience.
The last three months in Sevilla have been a dream come true. I could not have asked for a better program, a better city or better friends to share the experience with. As I pack up my apartment and prepare to head back to the United States, I know one thing for sure; this is not goodbye, but rather see you later (Sevilla, no te digo adiós sino que hasta luego).