Andrew Rader is a student at the University of Oklahoma and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. He is currently studying aboard with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.
1) Be All There
Try to soak up as much “local color” as you possibly can. The easiest way to get comfortable in a new culture is, ironically, to be open to being uncomfortable for at least a little while. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t test the waters first, but always keep an open mind. Don’t be a stranger!
2) Get Lost in the Language
This tip is especially important if you want to learn the incredible Spanish language. As I’ve come to learn from many local students here in Sevilla, most students who study abroad in Spain come with the intention to learn the language as best they can but get caught up spending their time conversing with English-speakers instead of stepping out of their comfort zone to test their Spanish! After a few times, you’ll feel much more confident; take my word for it.
3) The “5 Minute Walk”
One of the most helpful tips I have received while living here in Sevilla is extremely important for the curious tourist. One of my professors enlightened me about how to find the best “tapas,” or small appetizers that are popular here in Spain. A great starting point would be the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in downtown Sevilla. From this starting point, walk any direction for 5 minutes down any tucked away street you can find until you stumble upon a tapas restaurant. This way, you avoid the more easily accessible places that will try to overcharge without having the food to back the expense. As I’ve come to find, these mom and pop shops never disappoint!
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Explore
Sevilla shouldn’t be reduced to the popular sites alone. For example, you shouldn’t go to a place like Paris just to see the Eiffel Tower, or Rome just to see the Mona Lisa. If you have a map of Sevilla, try to visit the unlabeled sections as well as the popular places because you never know what beauty you might find in an undiscovered area!
5) Let Your Loved Ones Know How You’re Doing
Never miss a good chance to let your family and friends back home know that you’re safe and enjoying your time here in Sevilla. While it’s difficult to leave that foundation back in the U.S. for even for a second, keeping in touch will always help you keep that comfort and give you peace of mind. Don’t forget to enjoy it!
The world awaits…discover it.