Nicholas Clancy - Seville, Spain
My study abroad experience in Sevilla, Spain had such a great impact on me. Taking in another culture really helped me learn so much more about my own culture and the background I come from. One aspect of the culture that has changed me in a good way is learning about family life by living with a host family in Sevilla. I went in with an open mind, knowing that the food for example was going to be different than what I am accustomed to. I grew up never being able to eat vegetables, but since I knew that I could not refuse anything my host mother put on the table for me, I tried all sorts of new dishes and ended up loving them all, and now I can eat most vegetables. That is just one example of how studying abroad has changed me for the better, but there are so many other things about the experience that I would not take back for anything. I developed my fluency in Spanish so quickly, and in some cases quicker than I have in the classroom, and I made some great friends and met some awesome people in a different part of the world.
Another part of the culture of Sevilla that impressed me was how laid-back the people were, yet when a holiday comes around (holidays happen often in Sevilla) they are so festive. On a regular weeknight, everyone in my host family would be in their pajamas and slippers early on in the evening watching television, but when a holiday would come along, like Semana Santa (Holy Week) for example, my host family would have the whole house decorated and then try to go out into the town to see the various processions. When you travel and live somewhere for a little while, it is sometimes as if you are learning everything you were brought up knowing all over again, but this time with a different perspective. It was different for me getting up in the morning every day and hearing the people on the radio, seeing the newspaper, and going outside and listening to people speak to one another in another language. The degree of exposure to Spanish language was one of the most rewarding experiences for me. There is also a vast amount of culture to experience when you listen to people speak in a language that is not your own. I really appreciated listening to other people speak to one another as well as to me throughout my time in Sevilla. Though it would still have been culturally rewarding even if my entire study abroad semester had been somewhere English-speaking, it was wonderful for me to add a foreign language into the mix.
This world is relatively small but there is so much one can learn from these kinds of experiences. I learned quickly that my suitcase was going to be way heavier coming home than it was when I arrived, because I wanted to take so much of Spain (and everywhere else I travelled for that matter) home with me. There is nothing wrong with loving where you come from, I know I do, but there is also nothing wrong with leaving to see other parts of the world even if it is just for a little while. The main thing that I came back with is the fact that I learned something about myself: I love to travel, and I hope I can do it again soon.