As the taxi dropped me off in front of my apartment Wednesday afternoon I felt a wave of emotions come over me. With an increasing amount of anxiety, I dragged my two suitcases up to the door and rang the apartment I thought was mine. After waiting — what seemed like forever, but in reality was only two or three minutes — I was greeted by my host sister Pauli and the family dog Bodhi. Luckily for me, between the little Spanish I knew and the little English Pauli knew, she was able to show me around my new home pretty well. However, between my roommate not arriving yet, being immersed in a completely different environment, and all the jet lag I felt pretty out of sorts my first day in Spain. Little did I know I would have such an amazing week ahead of me!
The next day we had orientation. I met my host mother Maria and she walked me to ICS — about a ten minute walk. I got more acquainted with other students as well as the program. After this, I started to become a little more comfortable with my surroundings as well as my host family. That evening we went with ICS to a restaurant called “Los Cien Montaditos” where we enjoyed some typical Spaniard “tapas”. Afterwards, several of the students went to a bar down the street and continued to get to know one another while playing foosball and watching a soccer game on TV with lots of locals. It was a great start to the program!
On Friday morning we walked through the Maria Luisa Park as well as the University of Sevilla where some students would be taking classes. I was amazed by the beauty of the Park, especially the Plaza de España. I knew I would be spending a lot of time there this semester. It seemed like the perfect place to sit down and read my book and relax. And even though I would not be taking classes at the University I enjoyed the short tour where we got to learn the history of the building — it was actually the largest tobacco factory in Europe at one point! Next we had a typical breakfast consisting of Cafe con Leche (Coffee with Milk) and toasted bread with butter and jam. It was delicious! After a little siesta in the afternoon, we went to Teteria Bagdad where we got to try a Pakistani and Moroccan tea as well as watch a very talented belly dancer perform. I enjoyed the second tea very much and can not wait to have more on our trip to Morocco!
Saturday morning we made the long walk to Las Setas which is a newer monument here in Seville but amazing, nonetheless — it is the largest wooden monument in the world! There we had breakfast of churros con chocolate. It was delicious! Later that evening we went to El Museo Del Baile Flamenco where we learned a little of the history of Flamenco dance and got to watch a show. I can truly say that the Flamenco show was an experience like no other. I have a new and great appreciation for Flamenco as an art form! After the performance a small group of us went to a restaurant for dinner. At this restaurant I tried the famous Spanish Sangria for the first time — tasty, but not my first preference. We also got several tapas. All of them were absolutely delicious. I was a little shocked by how much I really liked everything. I enjoyed this night very much as I got to try many new things with new people.
The next morning my roommate Wendy finally arrived! I was excited to meet and get to know her after several days on my own. However, that day she mostly slept due to travelers fatigue. That afternoon we took a boat ride on the river. There were three boats and the people on my boat had lots of fun talking, dancing, drinking, and eating. It was a wonderful time! The day was beautiful so several of us walked to the park afterwards to enjoy the weather.
On Monday we started our classes. I was actually really excited! I decided to take Culture and Society of Spain, Three Cultures, and Intermediate Spanish. I really enjoyed my professors and classes the first week. I think that I will definitely learn a lot and have lots of fun this semester. Monday night our final Welcome Week activity consisted of a walking tour through the old Jewish quarters in Seville. I learned a lot of history and got to see a completely different side of Seville. This was also the first activity Wendy got to do with the group so everyone was intrigued with “the new girl” — although she had actually been here the previous semester!
This was pretty much the just of my first week in Seville. I am extremely glad that ICS had a whole week of activities planned for us. Although it was a little tiring I got to know the city better, see some amazing sites, and get to know everybody in the program. Moving to a different country can be a very difficult transition. I was worried about culture shock, but I feel as though ICS has minimized that substantially by accompanying us our first few days here. I feel a lot more comfortable and most of my anxieties have been replaced with excitement to see what this semester has to offer. So although I am living in a new place, surrounded by new people, immersed in a new culture — I definitely think I have also found a new home.