Passports

Dispatches from Abroad

Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 2:23 p.m.

Updates from Lauren, studying in Sevilla

This post was written by Lauren Katz, who is studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain.

Lauren Katz outside of El Catedral in La Plaza del Triunfo. Photo courtesy of Lauren Katz

Six years ago, I said “adios” to my brother Jordan as he left the U.S. to study abroad in Madrid. Ever since he returned, I have been itching to follow in his footsteps.

Now, I find myself writing this blog post from Sevilla after spending three weeks adjusting to the language, culture and lifestyle of a new country.

I chose to study in Sevilla because I wanted a smaller city that wasn’t as popular for tourists. One where I knew I’d be forced to speak Spanish. So far, Sevilla has exceeded my expectations. I have yet to speak to a single adult in English – even at the hospital for a minor foot injury – and I have fully adapted to the traditional meal schedule of a 2 p.m. lunch and a 9:30 p.m. dinner.

In just two weeks, I have already managed to see some of Sevilla’s main attractions, including the Sevilla Cathedral, the world’s third largest church; El Alcázar, an ancient Moorish palace that still hosts the royal family when they visit; and Las Setas, an architecturally amazing and innovative free-standing structure that resembles a group of mushrooms. If the rest of my semester in Spain pans out to be anything like my first few weeks, I will leave here feeling as close to a cultured Sevillan as possible.

That is, if I stay in Sevilla long enough to experience it all. Having already booked weekend trips to Morocco, Portugal and Barcelona, I doubt whether I’ll be able to truly become familiar with my “home city.” The one thing I have been told by friends of mine who have studied abroad is, “I wish I would have stayed home on more weekends.” But with my light course load, I think I will have ample time during the week to do all the exploring I might miss while I’m traveling.

My abroad experience will be different than the majority’s, though, because I have chosen to live in “La Residencia,” dorm-style housing, as opposed to living with a host family. I chose this option because I wanted the freedom I’ve become so used to back at GW. While I’m missing out on home-cooked meals and living in a real house or apartment, I have the social schedule of my choosing, can be as loud as I please and can shower at any time of the day for however long I want – many Spanish families limit their showers to five minutes.

My tiny apartment is equipped with a bathroom, mini fridge and microwave. Bunk beds and one armoire occupy most of the wall space, and I am expected to do my own laundry and hang-dry my clothes. The upside? All I have to do is open my door and walk onto a beautiful rooftop patio that sits directly beneath the warm afternoon sun. I am already counting down the days until the weather is nice enough for me to sit outside and relax on the lounge chair.

So have I fully adjusted to Spanish life, you ask? Probably not. I have, however, been pleasantly surprised at how easily I’ve been able to transition. I am looking forward to the next three months, and I already know coming back to the States will be a little bit more challenging than I had planned.