I am now officially halfway through my amazing semester in Sevilla. As the city’s version of fall begins to creep in, my walk to the university has become automatic, siestas are now a necessary part of my daily routine, and my walking shoes are very much broken in. Although I’m still very much in love with the city, the honeymoon phase is over.

A couple of things that I miss from back home are my family, chilly weather, and last but not least, diversity.

Being the fourth largest city in Spain, I was expecting to see a lot more people of color in a wider variety of social positions, but I often don’t see a single Black person on my daily commute, and I can count the number of Black students in my very large school on one hand.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like people see my blackness more than they actually see me. My advice to students of color who are planning to travel in Spain is to make sure you have a strong support system to help you navigate through this challenging, but very rewarding experience. We live in a time where an unprecedented number of doors have been opened for people of color, so it’s incredibly important that we take advantage of these resources and opportunities that have not always been available. There is absolutely a space for students like us in Sevilla.

Cultural experiences like these are one of the many things that I’m learning in my time here, and ICS has taken us on some awesome culture trips around the city and surrounding Sevilla to enrich our experience even more. We took a day trip to my new favorite mountain town, Ronda, and learned about the impressive (and leg-burning) incline and architectural make-up of the ancient city and its influence on many of the works of Ernest Hemingway. We also took a visit to the Real Alcázar, one of the oldest palaces still occupied by royals in Europe.

The Mudéjar style and combination of cultural influences is breathtaking, and it’s no surprise that people flock from all over the world to visit this Iberian oasis – I could definitely make myself at home lounging by the Patio de las Doncellas.

I can’t believe that this incredible period of my life is already halfway over. I plan to appreciate every single challenge and gift that comes my way from now until then.