I know the title is a bit cheesy but it really captures the essence of my week. (On a side note, please forgive my spelling because my spellcheck is stuck in Spanish- ¡uy!)
Anyway, Sunday night my señora invited one of my roommates and I to go out for a “little walk”. I should have remembered that they walk more in general here (I haven´t ridden in a car since I arrived) but I thought that it would be a good chance to see our little neighborhood. We actually walked all the way across the city (roughly 7 miles)! Despite our tiredness by the end, it was a fantastic opportunity to get to know Sevilla and each other better.
The next day, we had our first classes of the semester. Thankfully it was not a typically overwhelming first day with syllabus shock like I usually have at home, but rather a semi-gentle introduction to professors and course material. If you´re wondering, yes I do have homework but the assignments are given daily rather than on a course guide and it usually consists of worksheets and reading/studying so that we´ll still have time to talk with locals for real-life practice.
That afternoon, my señora and I went shoe shopping because I´ve been having a lot of blisters. I found a pair that I liked at a store in my neighborhood, but they didn´t have my size so we had to go to another branch. After my experience on Sunday, I made sure to specifically ask how far away it was so I would know whether to change into workout clothes and bring water hahaha. My señora assured me it wasn´t far but the trip ended up taking about two hours because we stopped for coffee and she showed me all the best clothing, shoe, and ice cream places on both sides of the river. She even introduced me to the shopkeepers she knew and we visited her sister´s key shop. We had a blast exploring together and I learned a ton!
Tuesday was a regular school day and then we had a “Noche de Chicas” (girls night) when we met at the school to share our highs and lows of the experience so far and then went to the Plaza de España to row boats in the little stream which winds around the area. It was so great to hear how everyone was doing and to know that so many of us had similar struggles and joys with the language and culture of Seville. The boating was a lot of fun too and a great way to relax.
On Wednesday we had our first Encuentro (worship night) at a beautiful home for older gentlemen called La Hospital de la Caridad (Hospital of Charity). Not only was the little chapel a perfect place to encounter God, but it was great to do it in a group led by the musical ones in our program. Afterward, several of us went out for tapas (appetizers) at a great little place that has them for €1 on Wednesdays- like half-price apps at Applebees!
Thursday was more of a homework day because my first essay was due the next day for grammar class. A lot of the girls met up at the school that afternoon to study and work together while the guys had their “Noche de Chicos”. I´m already learning a lot but this class in particular has made me realize just how little of the language I actually know. When we got back our test to determine our levels, everyone´s was covered in red marks. I guess it just means we´re in the right place to fix these mistakes!
The girls of the program had heard that I now knew where to go shopping in Seville, so on Friday we met together to check out various shops in el Centro (the main area of town where there´s an outdoor mall of sorts). We had a lot of fun giving each other opinions on clothes and discussing our impressions of Spanish culture so far. By the end, however, I was pretty tired, so we returned home for dinner. I got my second wind from the meal, so one of my roommates and I met up with friends later to walk through the city. We had such a good time that we didn´t return till after midnight. Don´t worry, though, it is actually safer to be out in the evening than during siesta time here because all the families with little children go out for walks after dinner (which doesn´t happen till 9 or 10pm).
The next morning my roommates headed to the beach (about 1 1/2 hrs. outside the city) but I decided to stay behind because I was tired from the week. When I looked at my pedometer app, I realized I had walked over 23,000 steps on Friday (14 miles!). I had a quiet morning and met the Student Activities director for coffee, then had lunch with my señora, took a nap and did homework, and met another friend for tea at a bar along the river. It was a nice rest from the hurried pace of the workweek.
We returned to the same church as last week on Sunday and the people were very welcoming. I recognized nearly all the hymns and I love the fact that the whole congregation participates boldly in singing. It started to rain after church and a few of my friends´host homes were flooded due to the lack of grass and/or drains in the city. Later that afternoon the Student Activities director had an open house at her apartment (such a cute little place!) and then we spent the rest of the day getting ready for school today.
Con mucho amor de Sevilla, Alex
(With lots of love from Seville)