January 29, 2012. That means only two more full days at home until I leave for my 4 months abroad in Seville. After about a year of preparing to study abroad in Spain, the final touches of packing and making sure I have all the documents that I need are consuming my last days at home. I cannot wait to see who awaits me there and what adventures I will encounter.
Before I arrive in Spain, I did some background research of the history and culture of Seville to prepare myself. Here’s some information about Seville from an outsider’s view, before you get the immersed insider perspective!
Seville is located in the broader province of Andalusia. It is the fourth largest city in Spain, behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. The city has a population of about 704,200 people. Seville is the only city that lies on the Guadalquivir River, which runs through the city giving it character. Andalusia is the home of flamenco, accompanied by guitars, castanets and hand clapping.
The most traditional accessories for women are shawls; mantillas which are either white or black scarf-like pieces worn over hats during festival in April especially; and fans made of wood.
Seville has tons of history which can only be learned through immersing oneself in the culture and seeing how that history has influenced the city that Seville became. The Moors entered the Iberian Peninsula, on which Seville lies, in 711 and were expelled from Seville more than 500 years later in 1248. They were expelled from western Europe 250 after that in 1492. When the Moors were in power in Seville, they ruled from the Alcazar which still functions as a palace till today.
Daily life in Seville is much different than it is in the United States. Merely the meal times pose a stark contrast. Lunch, or almuerzo, is typically consumed around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. After lunch, it’s time forsiesta during which the Spaniards rest and relax, with all stores and cafes closed. The streets begin to bustle around 5 or 6 when people return to work. After several more hours of work, 10 p.m. signals dinnertime, an hour that is often bedtime for many working Americans. The night is young in Seville as 11 p.m., or 23:00 as they called it, is when many people venture to tapas bars for a drink or tapa with friends. Not only do the twenty-somethings got out, but the sixty-somethings as well! In Seville, you’re always young. It is typical for people not to return home until 6 or 7 a.m., often going directly to breakfast before getting any sleep.
While mere cultural differences in lifestyle are going to pose a bit of a culture shock, I’ll be sure to adjust to the Andalusian accent in sure time. The flavors and aromas of Spanish food will come to bring comfort and familiarity to me. Without any knowledge of what I’ll encounter socially and culturally, I feel adequately prepared with background knowledge of Seville. I will be sure to share with you my experiences throughout my journey.
A student at Lehigh University, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, during the spring semester of 2012. I posted about my adventures and cultural experiences at SenseSeville. Please note that these posts were written during my time in Spain.
Next I will discuss my arrival in Seville.