Growing up in a household in which the pantry overflowed with savory European curiosities and Swedish holiday traditions shaped the core of my childhood. I am no stranger to European culture. I was bitten by the travel bug at a young age — 13 months old to be exact — when I was taken across the Atlantic to visit my relatives in Sweden.
Even as a toddler, blissfully unaware of the adventures that unfolded before me, I have always felt an innate connection to Europe. This international bond is taking a whole new level as I begin my study abroad experience in Seville, Spain this semester.
Reflecting on my rationale for ultimately selecting Seville as my study abroad destination helped me maintain composure when I faced the daunting challenge of long packing lists and two small suitcases. So, why Seville?
Last summer, I had the opportunity to briefly visit the idyllic city in Southern Spain with my grandmother. Before visiting, I had explored the idea of studying abroad in Seville, but I also continued to research other European programs. Ireland? Rolling green hills. Denmark? Quaint and picturesquely Scandinavian. Seville? My moment of clarification appeared when walking through the grand marble halls in the University of Seville. Just like illustrations in a picture book, the mustard colored floors and remarkable sculptures placed elegantly throughout the university provide the building with an antique and scholarly quality. The exterior of the university looks like a chiseled palace. Sitting behind one of the desks in an empty classroom, I imagined myself as a student and I felt grateful to be able to be in that precise location, piecing together my future. I knew I was bound for Seville one day.
Unlike other large, cosmopolitan cities in Spain, Seville represents a more traditional and folkloric region, where its multicultural past ties gracefully with the present day. The Moorish legacy is reflected throughout the ancient architecture, literally providing Seville with visual heritage of complex, intercultural relations. By simply walking the streets, you have been given the gift of a history lesson.
As Spain’s fourth largest city and capital of the Andalucía community in Southern Spain, Seville offers a plethora of cultural avenues to explore. But, at the same time, the large size of Seville does not distract from the small-town feel one gets from passing familiar streets, small boutiques and daily cafes.
To be quite honest, I believe I am more at risk for reverse culture shock upon my return to the United States than I am for initial culture shock when immersing myself into Spanish culture. I have been anticipating my semester abroad since I officially declared my major in international studies and the realization dawned on me that studying in Europe would occur before my graduation date.
My flight just landed in Seville, Spain this week. I smiled when I crossed the Atlantic Ocean for my third flight and 22 hours of solid travel. I am so thankful to have this opportunity,