Classmates Connecting Cultures

Sevilla’s Daily Blessings

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.

Hola Amigos,

Well, I have been in Sevilla for over a month. Time really does fly by when you are having fun. But not everything is always peachy keen. Yes, studying abroad is an incredible opportunity, but it is not a vacation.  It is an adventure full of ups and downs. I expected to be challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone.  Challenges are a great way to learn about who you are as a person, time to grow, and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.  The trick to overcoming a difficult time, is to focus on the positive things. In my case, I regularly think about the daily blessings I encounter that make each day a great day.

A beautiful sunset over the Triana bridge.

A beautiful sunset over the Triana bridge.

My neighborhood: Triana

The city of Sevilla is made up of little neighborhoods, or barrios, like New York City. My part of town is Triana. It is a quaint middle-class neighborhood just outside of the city center and across the Guadalquivir River.  It is such a lovely place to go for walks and enjoy the quiet, family focused atmosphere.  The neighborhood hosts some well-known attractions like the Triana Bridge and Calle Betis.

My walk to school

Monday through Thursday I attend the University of Sevilla.  It is located in the center of the city just across the river. I leave early in the morning for my 9a.m. class and walk 20 minutes to school. The fresh morning air and sunrise allow for a relaxing walk and time for reflection. I admire the people doing their day-to-day business like taking their children to school and heading off to work.  I always feel like such a superstar when I reach the bridge to cross the river. The sun shines so bright, it feels like a spotlight as I cross the bridge.

The University of Sevilla

I attend one of the best universities in all of Spain! The university consists of buildings scattered all throughout Sevilla, with a different building for each subject. My classes are held in the Anthropology and Philosophy building.  My school used to be a tobacco factory and is surrounded by a beautiful fence and (empty) moat.  I am taking four classes for the semester: Anthropology of  Andalusia, History of Flamenco, Marketing and Society, and Contemporary Spanish film. My classes are wonderful and all my professors are very patient and understanding.  I am looking forward to progressing further into my classes this semester.

Me standing in front of the University of Sevilla

Me standing in front of the University of Sevilla

Andalucian Culture

I came to Spain to learn more about the Spanish culture and really delve into it.  Little did I know that Sevilla is rich with history and culture of Spain and Andalucia. Spain is made up of 17 autonomous provinces and I live the province of Andalucia. It is a very famous province of Spain known for many cultural aspects that Spain is famous for, such as flamenco and bullfighting.  I will have so many opportunities to cherish this culture in the upcoming months during Semana Santa and Feria de Abril.  These are two important holidays in the Spanish culture. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter and focuses on the deep-rooted aspects of the Catholic religion in Spain. Feria is a huge festival in April centered around family and Spanish culture.  Many people wear their Flamenco attire, put on their dancing shoes, and ride through the streets in decorated horse carriages.   Sevilla in the Spring is a great time to experience the culture.

My Sevillan Family

I have a feeling I may be writing about my Sevillan family a lot because I am so incredibly thankful for them.  They are very supportive, knowledgeable, and loving.  I live with an older couple in their 60’s, Miguel and Carmen.  I can always come to them with any questions, doubts, or silly stories and be welcomed with an open ear. One of my favorite things to do at home is sit in the kitchen, while Carmen is cooking, and chat with her. My host family knows very little English so I have definitely had to improve my Spanish skills and use all that I know to communicate with them. I have already been able to debate the pros and cons of Spain being a republic with my host dad who knows a wealth of knowledge about Spanish history.  They already call me, hija, which means daughter.

So I have not taken a photo of my family, yet, but this is a photo of their dog, Goku (yes, like the character from Dragon Ball Z).  He is 13 years-old and enjoys walks with Miguel, taking siestas, and eating cookies.

So I have not taken a photo of my family, yet, but this is a photo of their dog, Goku (yes, like the character from Dragon Ball Z). He is 13 years-old and enjoys walks with Miguel, taking siestas, and eating cookies.

Being thousands of miles away from home is a huge change in itself and you may find yourself challenged daily.  These challenges may range from small or even huge, but do not get hung up on them.  Instead, focus on the beauty of the many blessings you encounter every day. They may seem small and insignificant, but they can make a whole world of  difference in your attitude and perspective.  If you are unsure about what those blessings are, I suggest going for a walk and taking a look around you.

Hasta Luego,

Courtney

6 replies »

  1. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog because I follow ISA! I did the summer program two years ago in Sevilla and loved it=) I also lived with Maria Carmen and Goku of course. Please tell them I said hello and I hope you have a wonderful stay there. They are the sweetest people and you are so lucky to have gotten such a great host family (Plus Triana is the best)

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    • Hola Jade!!

      Sorry for the delay!! Such a small world! I told Miguel and Carmen that you said hi. It was quite the fiasco as I was not pronouncing your name in Spanish. They could not understand what I was saying. It was so funny, but Carmen figured it out!! They said hello!!

      Absolutely agree, Triana is an incredible neighborhood!

      Courtney

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  2. If you go to a bullfight, make sure the bullfighter is well known and not an amateur. Otherwise, it is very difficult to watch.

    Semana Santa is wonderful in Sevilla! Enjoy!
    Oh, and check out the peacocks in el Parque Maria Luisa.

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    • I am going to a bullfight next week with ISA before Feria. I know it will be quite the experience, but I am looking forward to seeing this aspect of Spanish culture.

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  3. Hey Courtney!

    It seems to me that you’re adjusting very well to Spanish culture. I know what you mean when you say it’s not a vacation! It really is very tough sometimes, and takes purposeful work! However, you are right: finding the blessings in each day is what carries you through and makes your adventures there more enjoyable and valuable :)

    One of my favorite things you mentioned is about how wonderful your home-stay family is. They really do make all the difference! I really enjoyed sitting in the kitchen with my Ecuadorian host mom while she cooked as well. One night she had to help me make a traditional Ecuadorian dish called “Tortillas de Harina.” When we started pulling out the ingredients I had bought for the recipe, we fell on the floor laughing when we realized that I had bought a “hueso” (ham bone) instead of “queso” (cheese) because I couldn’t read her handwriting on the ingredient list she gave me. It was one of my most tresured moments there for sure, and I’m sure you have had some of those already as well! Do treasure every moment you have with them :) I’m excited to hear about more of your adventures!

    Adios!
    Tori Matejovsky

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  4. Hello my baby girl! Wow, oh the time you are having. We miss you tons and are glad you have a wondertful family looking out for you! Love, Mom

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