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Things I’ve Learned From My Short Time Abroad

Seville, or “Sevilla” to the locals of Spain. The place where I’ve lived for the past month or so. It’s well-known for its beautiful orange trees all around the city; the Plaza de Espana, the Royal Alcazar, and much more. I was lucky enough to call this place home! Although I would have loved to have more time there, here are a few takeaways I’ve learned from my experience in the time being.

Home is where the heart is 

Sevilla is a place I will always think of as home, no matter how much time I actually spent there. It may have been only a little over a month, but to me it felt like a lifetime. Being submerged in a foreign country with complete strangers was an experience like no other. At first, it felt like I was just watching everything and everyone move around me as if I was just a “fly on the wall” of sorts. Not being accustomed to the culture was at first difficult. I have had my fair share of awkward interactions because of the differences between my normal lifestyle at home compared to what is common there. However, over time, Sevilla more and more began to feel like home. My half a mile walk to school began to feel less of a hike and more enjoyable. Figuring out schedules with my 8 other roommates began to feel normal and not a task. Evenings on our terrace with friends began to feel more and more like a commonality rather than a formality; “Tinto Tuesday’s” as we would call it. Getting into the swing of things was finally beginning to happen and feel normal. Walking into the front entryway to my apartment at Calle Abad Gordillo, always felt like a breath of fresh air. Whether it would be coming back from class, late at night from the bar, a weekend trip, it always felt like home. The people, the apartment itself, all finally began to feel like home to me.

Disfruta

A simple phrase, “Disfruta” or in English “enjoy.” This word has really resonated with me over the past few weeks since coming home. Although I am deeply saddened about having to leave Sevilla, I am grateful for the time I was able to enjoy while I was still able to. One by one, friends were leaving as soon as flights became available back home, so time was limited. Even with my last few hectic days, I was able to spend it with great company and take in all the sights Sevilla has to offer. By catching the sunrise on the “rio Guadalquivir” and following later with the sunset at an architectural monument “las setas.” All in all, we were able to really enjoy some of the last times we could all be together for a while. So enjoy (or disfruta) those bittersweet moments you still can!

Treat people with kindness 

(Shout out Harry Styles for the headline of this part.) 

Coming into this experience, I had no idea what to expect. People would continually ask me if I was nervous, excited, etc. about studying abroad. And to be completely honest, I was neutral to the whole situation right up until my plane took off. I had no nerves or jitters about going, I just knew things would be all right. And on that late January Sunday, I was right. Exhausted from packing and saying my last “goodbyes” to friends, I was finally all ready to go. And I was fine as could be the whole drive to the airport and dinner up until it was time to say goodbye to my parents. It finally sunk in that this was the last time I would see them for almost 4 months (or so I thought). That realization made everything all the more real once getting past security on my own. Finding my gate and settling in, I got the chance to finally read a letter one of my friends had written me. He specifically told me to wait until I was finally on my own and on my way to Spain. I began to open it up and the first thing I could see read “Feliz Cumpleanos” and immediately began laughing. The heartfelt letter that I most definitely needed to push me through one of the toughest moments of my life was inside a Spanish birthday card. 

    An image for you all: me, alone, crying in my almost empty terminal because of how early my parents dropped me off, and pretending not to be seen. Then out of nowhere, a girl sits herself beside me and asks “are you Morgan? We’re in the same program I was hoping to find you!” And thank god she did! This girl, I would later begin to know and love, was my saving grace in that moment. With her bubbly personality and constant “getting to know each other” questions, we both were able to distract ourselves from the ‘scariness’ of it all. Her openness right away allowed for me to feel comfort in doing the same once we landed in Spain. With that, I was able to meet some of the greatest people who have made such an impact on my life. Sevilla and Spain alone were some of the most extraordinary places I have ever been to, but if it wasn’t for the kindness of the people I met along the way, my experience would never have been the same.

Live today as if it were your last day

Take in every moment you have, you never know what could be coming next. I would never have expected to be sent home early from my abroad experience but life is full of unexpected turns. One of my friends would always say “when in Spain”, and she was completely right. When will I ever have this opportunity again to live in Spain with the single responsibility of attending and completing my classes? 

Utilize your time during the week! All of my friends were never together for one full weekend until it was our last. Either people would be on trips, other responsibilities etc. So use your free time during the week to make up for any time lost! Wake up early before class and try a new coffee shop and meet some friends, there’s only so many days in a week. It’s ok to go out on those weeknights you may be questioning or going out for tapas with some friends, because you only get so many times to do so!

I was lucky enough to live across the street from one of Sevilla’s most famous art museums, “Musea de las Bellas Artes,” or the “Museum of Fine Arts.” The museum itself was amazing, but every Sunday, local artists and vendors would set up shop throughout the morning. I loved going and looking to see what people had created every chance I got. In Triana, another neighborhood in Sevilla across the river, the first Sunday of every month, the whole main strip was filled with vendors selling clothes, new and old! Experiencing the little things in your study abroad city is definitely something to take advantage of!

Final thoughts

Although I do wish I got to spend more time in the beautiful city I was lucky enough to call home, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world. The people I met along the way shaped my experience in more ways than I have words to describe. I learnt something from each and every single one of my friends I made along the way. They each were unique and kind in their own way and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them. The traditionalism of Sevilla was like no other city I’ve been to. With the ever changing history, they are still true to their roots and it is something I grew to learn, understand, and respect. To my friends, Calle Abad Gordillo (home), and Sevilla itself; thank you for your time. I’ll be back soon enough.

Morgan is currently a junior at Emmanuel College majoring in Communication and Media Studies with a minor in Marketing. In her free time, she loves to explore the city of Boston and all it has to offer. You can find her at any coffee shop, museum, concert, or antique store!
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