SEVILLE — Perhaps it is the colorful city map peeking from the corner of my purse, my tendency to walk in the green bicycle lanes or lack of incredibly bronzed skin that gives me away as a foreign student in Spain.
It can be difficult to ignore the inquisitive glances I receive when I’m obviously stumbling my way through the halls of the University of Seville. It is unbearably apparent that I’m the “new kid” when walking into the glass door of the history department’s library. Every day is a complex new adventure where every sunrise and sunset marks a day spent learning, exploring and coming one step closer to feeling like a resident — rather than staying “the foreigner” until the end of the semester. Foreigners are the outsiders — the ones who have strong cultural roots elsewhere and who are connected to a different land or country. As a student who is studying in another country, I have a choice: stick with the mentality that I am innately different than Spaniards and impede my cultural immersion, or simply vow to become acquainted with the lifestyle of Seville with every opportunity I receive.
Between the days of high school and attending Elon, I have been fortunate to meet many international students from around globe and establish friendships with people on almost every continent. I have always wondered how it felt for them to pack up and leave their homes to live abroad — now I know. It is one of the most indescribably wonderful feelings to wake up in the morning and see the rays of the Spanish sunshine dance along the wooden walls in my room. To look out the window at the street below my balcony and watch as daily life resumes in Seville as children meander along the sidewalks in their plaid uniforms and businessmen buy their cup of morning coffee. To watch everything unfold, and to know that I am part of it all because I am living here, is inexplicably satisfying.
Today, while walking to the library of the University of Seville, a German couple touring the city approached me and kindly asked for directions to the theatre. The irony was funny to me — the foreign tourists thought I was the Spanish insider this time.