Before coming to Sevilla, my expectations were mainly what I thought I had learned about through experience. I visited a different region of Spain over 3 years ago for a high school trip and came to the following conclusions: first, people here are cooler than you and me, and they know it. Second, locals can pick out an American from a mile away. Third, meals and meal times are much different than they are at home. And finally, it’s really pretty here. Complex, I know. But I was 16 then, and now that I am more grown up and have the opportunity to live here for a semester, I can begin to understand why these stereotypes exist in the first place.
To put it frankly, the people here (known as sevillanos) intimidate me. They walk by without making eye contact, and when they do, they don’t smile. Everyone seems to dress nicely, and it actually makes me feel like a slob for even thinking about wearing flip flops, no matter how hot it is outside. But after talking with a few locals—an experience I didn’t have the first time I came to Spain—I found that they’re actually quite friendly people. The sevillanos I have spoken to have been patient when it comes to the language barrier, and they enjoy asking me why I’m here and telling me about their city. And regarding nationality, an American will only be targeted if he or she acts like one. So if that means walking down the street like I own the place to avoid inappropriate comments and pickpockets, so be it. Sometimes I feel silly doing it, but I think it has saved me a lot of trouble.
On another note, I was slightly concerned about food situation in Sevilla. Seafood and ham—two things I am picky about and didn’t even like until this summer—are a big deal here. Furthermore, lunch and dinner take place a few hours later than they typically do in the U.S. Although I came here worrying that I would starve between meals, it turns out that the schedule is working well. Because meals are plentiful, I don’t crave snacks like I used to. And, for the first time in awhile, I don’t base my day around food. Maybe that’s why people here are less obese—that, and they walk a lot more (my feet are still getting used to that!)
Finally, I still hold true to my simple statement that it is really pretty here. I would attempt to describe it, but I don’t think my words would do this city justice. For now, I look forward to delving deeper into everything Sevilla has to offer, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.