Questions and Answers About Sevillian Culture

Amanda Sharon is a student at Saint Anselm College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Amanda will be studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

Sharon group pic
My friends and I in Plaza de España!

No one ever said that living in a foreign country would be easy. There is a lot to adjust to — new food, new people, new school and a new way of life. In this post, I answer some questions I first had in Sevilla and the answers I’ve discovered along the way!

Am I in the bike path?

Sharon Bike path
Bike Path

If you are, MOVE! Cyclists in Sevilla stop for nothing! There are markers along roads and next to sidewalks indicating a path specifically for bikes. If you are questioning why bicyclists are ringing their bells at you, look around, and if you see these markers, you’re most likely in a bike lane!

Sharon Bike Marker
Bike Path Marker

When are we going to eat dinner?

Sharon food7
Traditional Spanish Salad

Dinner in Spain is not served until 9:30-10:00pm at the earliest each night. Since lunch is actually the biggest meal of the day (served between 2:00-3:00pm), dinner is typically much smaller. This is particularly challenging to adjust to since it is the opposite of the U.S. If you are really having a difficult time, stop by the nearest supermercado and pick up some snacks to get you through until dinner. I have been here two weeks now, and I am finally getting used to the meal times!

Is this a road or a walkway?

Sharon Street in Triana
Street in Triana

If you find yourself asking this question, it’s probably both! You might think a small cobblestone street, where everyone is walking in the middle of the road, is just for pedestrians. Think again! Little cars and mopeds fit down these little streets. Just be aware of this and try to stay to the side of the road.

When are they going to bring the check?

Sharon Dinner in Madrid
Our first night out in Spain, waiting for the check!!

When dining out, the check is only going to be brought to you when you ask for it. In the U.S. we are used to servers bringing the check over when we are finished eating (sometimes even before), but restaurants here are more laid back. A waiter in Spain won’t usually bring you the check until you ask for it! We made this mistake our first night in Madrid before we realized someone should go ask the waiter!

How far of a walk is it??!

Sharon Bridge Linking Triana and El Centro
Bridge Linking Triana to El Centro

Your first week in Sevilla, you might find yourself asking this a lot. People in larger cities in Spain walk everywhere, especially in Sevilla! It takes about 30 minutes for me to walk from my homestay to school. At first, I thought that I would never get used to all the walking, but now it is second nature. A long walk in the morning to class is a great way to wake up and start your day! (Plus all that exercise will make you feel less guilty about splurging on some gelato!) Above is a picture of the bridge I cross everyday on my way to class. It’s beautiful!

What is hanging from the ceiling?

Sharon Jamon
Jamón (Spanish Ham)

Living in Spain you notice a lot of jamón, or ham,  hanging from the ceiling of restaurants, tapas bars and grocery stores. There’s really no explanation for this except that Spanish people eat a lot of ham. And you should too when you’re here; it’s delicious!

Why does everyone walk so slowly? 

Sharon River
When you slow down, you have more time to enjoy the beautiful sights, like the Guadalquivir River!

People in Sevilla never really seem to be in a huge rush. They are really strolling rather than walking. At first, I was always passing people on the streets, but now I’ve come to like moving at a slower pace. You are able to take more in and enjoy the sights and people. If you’re in Spain, my suggestion is to try to slow down (unless you’re late for class) and really embrace the laid-back atmosphere.

What is everyone saying to me?

People in Sevilla, and the south of Spain in general, have different accents. They leave off the end of words and letters, and sometimes don’t even speak in full sentences but with one or two phrases or words. My friends and I are just starting to get used to it!

Most people in Spain also speak with (what sounds like) a lisp, but isn’t really. What do I mean by this? Try saying “Barcelona” out loud. Now say it like the Spanish do — “Bar-thay-lona”. Or “Plaza Nueva.” now say “Platha Nueva.” It is certainly a challenge! My most common phrases in Spanish are “Qué?” (What?) or “No entiendo” (I don’t understand). Lucky for me, Sevillians are very patient and kind! Don’t get frustrated if you don’t understand right away; it takes time for your ears to adjust. And soon enough it will sound more natural to you!

It is normal for a person to have a lot of questions when they visit/live in a new country. These were just a few of the many I first had when arriving in Spain. Now that I have been here for two weeks, I believe that half the fun is learning, laughing and adjusting to a new way of life! It’s good to embrace this cultural change.

2 thoughts

  1. Wow. This really reminds me of my first week studying abroad in Granada. The Andalusian accent is very hard to pick up initially. My host mom have me a few tips, and then it became a lot easier. I also remember having to snack in between lunch and dinner at first. Take advantage of everything while studying abroad. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

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