The Pros and Cons of Sevillano Life

Maggie Ovian is a student at James Madison University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Maggie is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

IMG_3183 siesta tshirt
A popular shirt in tourist shops. Siestas are clearly important here!

I’ve been living in Sevilla for over a month now and have had the chance to travel a bit to places like Barcelona, Munich, and Rome.  Seeing these different places has made for some amazing weekend experiences, but after those few days are over I’ve found myself excited to come home to Sevilla.  Traveling has also made me realize some of the major differences between European countries’ cultures.  You really can’t just lump Europe into one stereotype; each country has different qualities that make it unique.  So as I settle into my new life in Sevilla, I’ve found myself (of course) missing aspects about the U.S., and then also missing aspects of Spain when I travel to other European countries.

3 Things I Love About Spain:

  1. Siesta – At this point in my study abroad experience I can’t believe we don’t have this in the States yet.  A siesta is a designated time during the day where Spaniards just take a break — come home, eat a good lunch and take a nap or just rest.  During siesta, from around two until five or six, everything closes.  Business owners and students alike can go home and be with their families during the day and rest for a while until the rest of the night begins.  It makes for a much more enjoyable day, because at the end of the work day you aren’t too exhausted to go out!  I don’t know how I’d survive the Spanish lifestyle without a siesta!
  2. The opportunity to practice your Spanish – This is an obvious one but still important.  Of course if you want to practice your Spanish you go to Spain or some other Latin American country.  However, where you choose to go in Spain can seriously affect your skills.  For me, the whole reason I’m studying abroad is to better my Spanish-speaking ability.  Fortunately, I think that I chose the perfect part of Spain to do it.  Studying in Sevilla is a great way to improve your Spanish because the way the Sevillanos speak is SO difficult to understand, because many people barely pronounce any consonants.  Therefore, if you can learn to speak adequately in Sevilla, you can hopefully speak to anyone from any Spanish-speaking country.
  3. A relaxed environment – Spaniards have the stereotype of being relaxed.  I’m not saying that’s true, but there’s definitely a difference between the pace of life in Spain and in the U.S.  We are known to be fast-paced and willing to do anything to get to the top.  Spaniards are different; they know how to enjoy their time and have balance in their lives.  They work for part of the day, take a break, work some more, and then spend the evening out with friends or having a nice (late) dinner with family.  To me, this is how the U.S.  should be running.  Not slaving through 9+ hour work days and then going home and falling asleep in front of the TV.  Finding balance between work and fun is key, and coming to Spain has made me realize that.
IMG_3161 bottled water
Be sure to specify tap water at restaurants in Spain!

3 Things I Miss About the U.S.:

  1. Free water – This is one of the things I miss most about the U.S. I’m on a budget here!  I cannot afford to be paying for something that I assumed would be free!  In fact, often beer and wine are cheaper, which you would think is great, but sometimes you just want some water to stay hydrated!  You can always ask for tap water, but sometimes they don’t understand me and have given me bottled water anyway.
  2. Dressing casually in public – Spaniards bring their game when it comes to dressing themselves.  You will not see a Spaniard wearing sweats and/or flip-flops in public hardly EVER.  This means that you best dress to impress when leaving the house unless you want to horribly stick out. This is particularly true for Andalucía (the southern region of Spain), where you will often see women doing grocery shopping in four-inch heels.  While I’m not promoting killing your feet with uncomfortable footwear, it’s definitely a good idea to wake up a little earlier for class in order to look presentable.

    IMG_3154 outfit
    A comfortable, yet not very Sevillian outfit
  3. Chill nights in with friends – This doesn’t typically happen in Spain. In many Spanish households, it’s not common to have people other than family in the house unless it’s for a dinner party or something like that.  If you want to meet up with your friends, you usually have to go to a restaurant or a park rather than just inviting them over to hang out.  Because of this, I haven’t found an opportunity to just chill out and watch a movie with friends in pajamas, something I know I definitely want to do from time to time.  However, the up side of this is that the streets are always full at night with people out and about and socializing.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Maggie! my name is Fran. I’m sevillano.
    I like your post, I can see that you love the city. However I disagree with you around the free water. I live in Seville and I’ve never paid for the water.
    There’s a reason, you’re a foreign and the waiters try to you spend your money. If you want ”free water”, you have to order a ”glass of water” (vaso de agua), because if you order water, the waiter’ll try to cheat you.

    I hope that it helps you for your next trip in Seville.

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