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.
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.
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.
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.
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.