As of yesterday, I’ve officially been in Seville for a month! Over the past 4 weeks, I have grown accustomed to the Spanish ways of life and have established a routine here. I’ve
explored local sights like the Royal Alcázar of Seville, The Plaza de España, and the Giralda. Through my study abroad program, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to other Andalusian landmarks like the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Alhambra in Granada. I also truly feel like a local now, as I successfully gave a stranger directions to the mall last week!
My daily routine in Seville usually consists of attending my classes in the morning, studying with friends at cafés in the afternoon, wandering the labyrinth of streets during the evening, and watching the news with my host mom to cap off the night. Currently I’m taking four classes, two at the CIEE center and two at the University of Seville. My course load includes Contemporary Spanish Film, Contemporary Spanish Literature, the Image of the United States in Spain, and Cultures and Traditions of Andalusia. The most difficult part of my classes so far was adjusting to the speed and Andalusian accent of my professors’ Spanish. In Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain, it is common for people to drop the letter S off of the end of syllables, drop the letter D in some words, and use ceceo or a lisp. To give you an idea of Andalusian Spanish, the word “adiós” turns into “A’ió”. Once you’ve learned to master Andalusian Spanish, you can truly understand any other Spanish accent!
In my opinion, the best part of studying abroad so far has to be living with a host family. Through nightly discussions with my host mom, I’ve not only improved my Spanish but have gained insight into the large social and economic changes that have occured in Spain during the twentieth and twenty-first century. My host mom was in her twenties when Francisco Franco passed away and Spain transitioned from a dictatorship into the current democracy ran as a parliamentary monarchy. She told me one of the first things she did once the dictatorship ended was going to see the 1972 movie, The Godfather, in theatres. Previously the movie had been banned under the Franco regime, and my host mom explained that she would go to any length to protect freedom of speech and the press for future generations. As somebody who grew up in the United States and has often taken these freedoms for granted, these have been eye-opening conversations.
During the weekends in Seville, I enjoy exploring all the history this city has to offer. My favorite place hands down has to be the Plaza de España. This plaza was built for the 1929 World’s Fair in Seville and is a mix of Moorish and Renaissance revival architecture. The plaza is a semi-circle surrounded by a moat which is crossable by four bridges that represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Furthermore, along the walls of the plaza building there are forty-eight tile murals in nooks, each one representing a specific province of Spain. The Vicente Trevor fountain is the centerpiece of the plaza, and there are often tourists taking horse-drawn carriage rides in a giant circle around the fountain. This plaza is so beautiful that famous movies like Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones were filmed here. My words don’t serve the Plaza de España justice, but it is a must-visit destination if you ever find yourself in Seville!
Speaking of other must-see destinations, the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Alhambra in Granada are incredible and historical feats of architecture near Seville. The Great Mosque of Cordóba began construction in 784AD under the rule of Abd al-Rahman I. Once Córdoba came under Christian rule during the Reconquista in 1236, the mosque was then converted into a cathedral. This juxtaposition of Moorish and Renaissance style architecture is one of a kind. Just as amazing is the Alhambra in Granada. This complex of palaces and fortresses was the last Muslim stronghold of the kingdom of Al-Andalus prior to the end of the Reconquista in 1492. After the Reconquista, the Alhambra became the site of Ferdinand and Isabel’s Royal Court. As you can tell, Seville and Andalusia as a whole have so much to offer!