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First Week in Sevilla

First Week in Sevilla

Its been a week since I set foot on Spanish soil and the time has flown by. They always say the first week is the fastest but I must brace myself for the next weeks to come. First weeks in new places always seem like a party, many of my colleagues went out and got to know the bar and disco-tech scene in Sevilla. I participated but I only during the odd days of the week. I am living with a host family after all and I feel responsible to inform then of my whereabouts, although they are very flexible with my last minute plans.

It surprises very much me that I am the only student staying with a host family out of 41 other International students (Erasmus, as they are referred to in Europe). I don’t quite understand the logic behind their choices, if they wish to learn more about the local practices and language why wouldn’t they want to do it. I guess most people have a different agenda than me and would prefer to not have any constraints on the impromptu schedule.

As far as my host family goes, they feel like my second grandparents. Both welcoming and friendly. The grandfather is an avid soccer fan of the local Sevilla FC team and watches every La Liga match on TV. The grandmother is articulate with her kindness and cooks me a delicious dinner every night. They have a large extended family who come over every Friday to have lunch and socialize. The grandparents have four children to which three of them have at least two children. So lets just say every Friday its like a little party here.

Living with a host family, in my opinion, is a must if you really want to get a closer understanding of how a new society functions and it’s an excellent way to continue practicing the language. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons why you chose to study abroad? Some people’s concerns are that the host parents will impose draconian law on you and will not let you ‘go out’. But this should not be the case, the key is communication. First thing it to get your host parents numbers and use WhatsApp to message them your whereabouts. It’s just like living your own parents in the US. You need to build trust between them and after a few nights of returning on time, they will have faith in you that you will make the right decision.

Highlights from my first week are as follow: going to my first Sevilla FC match at their home stadium (which happens to be 1 block away from where I’m living, in an area called Nervión). There really isn’t anything like it in the US. Sports team in the US are a predominately new phenomena and there exists many sports teams to be a fan of, which dilutes the overall force behind a particular team. In Spain and much of Europe soccer is the main sport to watch, play and root behind. In addition, most cities have only one high level team so the passion is increased even higher. To top it off, most soccer teams have been in continuous business for over one hundred years (Sevilla FC was founded in 1890!), so generations and generations of families have supported the same team and have been there at every up and down.

Next highlight is that I bought a folding bike. In my opinion this the best way to see and get to know the ins and outs of a large city. When you bike you have the freedom to go anywhere you’d like but without the hassle of having to stick to the road; you can go up on side walks and make illegal turns. This will also be my main form of transportation to and from the University. The ride to school is around 20 minutes and it certainly beats the time it takes to ride on the public bus and beats paying at least 10 euros for a taxi.

Finally, right off the bat I’ve gotten to know quite a few people at the university, mostly international students but also some Spanish students. The International students are predominantly from Europe, i.e. Germany, Finland and The Netherlands but there are also some students from Central and South America, i.e. Peru, Guatemala and Mexico. I like to hang out with the latter students because then I get even more practice in Spanish.

In conclusion, my first week has been a smooth transition from my Chicago life (even though the first few days I felt like I was living in the 3rd dimension due to the jet lag), I am taking four interesting classes: International Public Law, International Markets, EU Law and Constitutional and Territorial Organization of the State. The grandparents I am living with have been treating very well and I the students I have been meeting are interesting. To top it off, the school lunches are still provided by Aramark but it certainly couldn’t be the prison level experience because the food tastes 3x better than those at the Lake Shore campus.

Stay tuned for more in-depth cultural and political analysis next time.

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