I arrived at Spain at around 12 o’clock p.m. CEST, meaning it was around 3 in the afternoon back in Illinois. I was so excited to finally be there after suffering through a cancelled flight, rude employees at Heathrow airport, and a layover in Madrid. Everyone was already feeling tense and ready to shower and sleep, even though most of us had slept on the flight. We met our host families there, and we took a cab to our homes for the week. The cab driver was a complete gentleman, helping put three suitcases and three bags in the trunk of the car. I soon found out the majority of men in Spain were like this: extremely educated and classy. For the first three days of our visit, we went to school for 3 hours daily. I found that people in Spain are exactly like us, but livelier! They’re always in a really happy mood and are extremely talkative and expressive. I was upset that they thought Americans only ate cheeseburgers and pizza, but my class of four students proved them wrong and told them it wasn’t like that at all.
What surprised me most about Sevilla’s culture was that, despite their traditional and religious morals and standards, teens and young adults were very into public displays of affection. Even though they are very traditional and set in their religion, teens and 20-somethings alike are very into PDA. Everywhere you looked, there were couples kissing without any regard to everyone else being around. Though it was cute, and made me miss my boyfriend, it was just so weird how they could do that without really caring! Boys are also very open about expressing whether they think you’re cute. I walked down the street on my last night there in heels and a dress and got my share of whistles.
Another thing was that everyone smokes. My own mamá (our host mom) smoked. We went to the cafés to get Internet, since not all houses have Wi-Fi. To my surprise there were vending machines with cigarettes. It’s crazy to see how something so taboo in our society is accepted in another.
My absolutely favorite part of Spain and Europe is the fashion! I am obsessed with how they dress! It was cold, but the majority of the girls dressed in dressy shorts with thick tights and heels, and of course, blazers. I loved the preppy look. The only thing was that the colors they chose were so dark! The men looked awesome, 24/7. Boys dressed in suits, pullovers, and dress pants: no saggy or too tight pants! I was absolutely in love with how clean-cut, well-dressed, and well-mannered they were. The shopping… Where do I begin? Zara is inexpensive because it originates in Spain, and since the norm is to always be dressed nicely, all the stores offer gorgeous inexpensive clothes of good quality. Thanks to that, I am now obsessed with the store Pull and Bear! It is like Hollister, American Eagle, and Abecrombie all rolled into one.
All in all, this was one of the best, most amazing trips I have taken so far. Every day I say I want to go back, and there is not one day that I’m not thankful for being given the opportunity to immerse myself in my native tongue and visit another country. I strongly encourage everyone to step out of your comfort zone and travel. You won’t regret it!