Tag Archives: study abroad

the home stretch

the portada and ubiquitous lanterns of feria.

Well. Long time no see.

After my last post ten million years ago, I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking I’d completely given up on blogging this experience because I’m so miserable. Not the case. What really happened was I decided to give myself some time to process this experience (the good and the bad) without the added pressure of analyzing it for anyone who might care to read. A good choice, as it turns out. The last few months have been amazing. Not perfect, because that’s unrealistic in any situation, but I finally feel like I belong here.

I’ve spent this time becoming truly close to my friends here (both Spanish and foreign) and doing what I can to soak up the last of my time. It’s weird to realize just how little of that I have left – just the other night, my friend Juan asked me when I was going home.

“June twenty-second,” I answered, “so not for a while.”

“Isn’t that, like, two months from now?”

Um. Yes. Yes, it is.

It took Juan saying that number for me to really get it: this is going to end. I’m going to go home and chow down at Irving Street Kitchen with my mom, hang out with my sister at the barn, beg my dad to run to the store for more Diet Coke. I’m going to drive down to Eugene and see everyone at Triple Rise, move in with my new roommates, take classes. In English. I can’t even imagine.

So I’m choosing not to. This week was Feria, the event I’ve most been looking forward to my whole time here in Sevilla. I could try to explain it to you in words, throw in a few inadequate still images in a feeble attempt to illustrate the atmosphere, but I decided I’d try something a little different: I made a movie! The camerawork isn’t the best – no tripod + endless booze and dancing = shaky hands. But I can’t help but smile while I watch it. Special thanks to Naomi, Alvaro, Marisa, Jose, Clara, Maria, Erika, and Greer for appearing – you look faaaabulous. And to the rest of you, I hope you like it!

Tagged , ,

the truth about study abroad

I’ve been in Spain for nearly six months now. I’ve seen a lot of great things, traveled to a ton of cool places, and met many new friends. I party my ass off, take long walks, and study hard when the moment requires. I’ve immersed myself in this society as much as I can and I’m wildly, perfectly happy here – or at least, that’s what you’d think if you read my blog or stalked my Facebook. But here’s the truth: what I tell you about my time abroad is only a small portion. I leave out the frustrating phone conversations with my horseback riding trainer, who was supposed to pick me up at 4:30 but didn’t and then called me twelve times while I was on the metro and couldn’t understand whether he wanted me to wait at the station or walk to the barn. I don’t mention the insatiable craving I feel for a goddamn Subway sandwich, followed by the even worse guilt over my inherent and unshakeable Americanness. I keep mum about the nagging feeling that I’m not truly taking advantage of my time here that I get when I stay in and watch movies on a Friday night. And then worse, the inadequacy I feel over the fact that I’ve been here so long and still haven’t made a truly close Spanish friend. I look at some of the other girls who’ve been here since September and they have Spanish boyfriends, for God’s sake, and even though I don’t really want a relationship, I feel somehow less-than.

When you see the life I put out on the Internet, you’re really only seeing the best ten percent of what I do here. You don’t see all the boring days where I don’t do much more than go to class and do homework after, or the petty squabble I have with a friend, or the nights I go out for a beer or two then turn in early. And you definitely don’t see the moments when I break down and just want to go home.

Which, in case you hadn’t guessed, is right now.

In a lot of ways, I think that’s dishonest of me. While I was getting everything together to come out here, all I heard about studying abroad was how awesome it was going to be. Every person I talked to (including the woman working the phones at Chase who made sure my debit card wouldn’t get flagged while I was abroad) gushed over my trip. Past study abroaders fed me story after story of endless fun. And at first, Sevilla was like that. I devoured this city.

But at a certain point, this stopped being a vacation for me. I thought I could outrun my social anxiety and introversion, but of course that’s impossible. I had this image of myself as Sevillana Katy, some sort of study abroad alter ego. And that Katy was fun and adventurous, organized and driven but always up for a spontaneous night out. She would strike up conversations with everyone and snap street photos without fear. But that person doesn’t really exist – at the end of the day, I still start to sweat when I ask someone if I can take their photo. I still long for quiet nights in with a terrible movie and too much Diet Coke. I still come off as stand-offish, or worse, boring, to new acquaintances thanks to my debilitating shyness in groups. None of that went away simply because I ran off to Spain.

It’s funny, this has been one of the hardest things to write and put out there. I want everyone back home to believe I’m having this unreal time. When people, even some of my closest friends, ask how I’m doing I invariably answer “incredible” or “amazing” or some other superlative. “I may never come home,” I say. I’ve been feeding the stereotype that it’s all good times, all the time. It feels wrong. So here you go, readers: study abroad is not always fun. It’s real life. Ups and downs happen, and I think on a more extreme scale than back home. So if you’re planning to go abroad anytime soon, try not to idealize it too much before you leave. Because sooner or later you’re going to have a terrible day – there’s no need to make it worse by feeling bad about feeling bad.

Tagged , , , ,

how to take it with you: packing for study abroad

Dear future study abroaders,

If you are anything like me, you are probably panicking right now. After all, you’re leaving for a whole semester in less than a month – how the hell do you pack for something like that? I made list upon list from May up until the day before I caught my plane, and as previously discussed, I still failed miserably.

So here’s my (incomplete) guide to building a study abroad wardrobe. It’s not everything you need by any means, nor is it everything you want. But it’s a start. Pick and choose from each category, prune where you want, and add in what you’ll die without. Just try not to go overboard – those baggage fees are no joke.

To see all my tips, read on!

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

mucho gusto, sevilla.

view

the view from the top of the ciee study center.

So I made it, in case you were wondering, and allow me to inform you that this place is amazing. I’ve only been here five days but I’m pretty sure I’m in love.

this would be where i go to school. nbd.

A BRIEF RECAP:

1. I arrived after 21 hours of torture by airline travel on September 5, greasy and exhausted but no worse for wear. We stayed in a hotel just around the corner from the CIEE center – excuse me, palace – in the medieval part of the city. The hotel building dates from the 18th century apparently, and the streets have been the same since the 1400s. There’s actually a law in place that says nobody can change how the streets run, which makes for some interesting traffic shenanigans.

trailing after mama pato (mama duck, also known as maria) through the streets of sevilla.

2. The seven of us followed our two guides Maria and Pablo through the city for a few days, learning the ropes. They’re both students in the Communication department of la Universidad de Sevilla. We ate at some seriously delicious restaurants, wolfing down beautiful tapas. Expect a recap of the best ones soon.

the stairs to my apartment. it was pretty funny to watch chuqui (as they call ricardo, don't ask me why) carry my 50 pound suitcase up three flights.

3. Two days ago, I moved into my homestay. It’s a flat in la Plaza de la Puerta Real, just steps from the river and less than ten minutes on foot from the CIEE study center. I live with Asa, who is Swedish but has lived in Sevilla for 30 years, and her son Ricardo, who’s 25 (at least, for now. He’ll be leaving for cooking school in Barcelona pretty soon.) I can’t believe how lucky I got with this place! The whole thing is just gorgeous, and Asa is a great cook (as is her son, obviously).

Today, we got our schedules for the next semester. Overall, I’m pretty stoked with mine – a little less than 4 hours of class 4 days a week, which is  better than I’ve ever done at U of O. In a couple hours I’m off to the study center again for a seminar on extracurriculars to be had (flamenco classes, cooking lessons, language exchanges…I’m foaming at the mouth already). Hasta pronto!

Tagged , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.