Semester Abroad, Global Correspondents A Semester in Sevilla

January 14, 2022
By Evelyn Bond, CAS '22

CASA Sevilla, Spain

Evelyn is one of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents writing and sharing her experience abroad during the Fall 2021 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed. 

I know it may sound like a cliché, but I would be lying if I said studying abroad didn’t change my life. Not only did I have the opportunity to experience university life in a different country, but I learned so much about myself as well.

During my time here, I have tried so many new things: I’ve been to professional fútbol games, I’ve been horseback riding in the countryside, and I tried my hand at clay sculpture (not surprisingly, I was pretty bad). I’ve also pushed myself out of my comfort zone- I stayed in hostels (sharing such an intimate space with strangers was something I never saw myself doing), and I mastered the art of packing extremely light (shoutout to RyanAir, which only allows one small backpack as a carry-on). Perhaps most importantly, I immersed myself completely in the language. Initially, I was very nervous to try to speak Spanish with fluent, native speakers, because I knew my Spanish was (much) less than perfect, but I did my best to stick with it, and navigate the nearly-impossible Andalusian accent. Overcoming the language barrier was probably the most challenging aspect of the semester, but it paid off; to anyone considering going abroad, I absolutely recommend full language immersion.

While in Sevilla, we explored dozens of restaurants, bars, and clubs. We met with our homestay families weekly and conducted community service. We picnicked in the Parque Maria Luisa and even treated ourselves to brunch at the Hotel Alfonso XIII.

In addition to trying new experiences, I had the opportunity to travel to many new places. During our CASA program cultural expeditions, we visited the historical Mezquita-Catedral in Cordoba, the breathtaking Alhambra in Granada, saw the massive 16th-century bridges in Ronda, and visited the inspiring Center Pompidou Málaga museum while in Malaga. My friends and I took our own independent weekend trips as well. We swam in the salty oceans of Bolonia, where we could see the edges of Morocco just across the strait. We went spelunking in ancient sea caves in Palma de Mallorca. We witnessed the marvels of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and enjoyed the festive Christmas markets in Madrid.

We met so many new people through our university classes, going out at night, and living in our residencia. A lot of our new friends are other study abroad students, many of whom are Europeans studying through the EU study abroad program, Erasmus. Others hail from Mexico, Japan, and Panama.

I have some recommendations that I would give to future students who wish to study abroad. Perhaps most importantly, would be to calm down- everything is going to be just fine. For the entirety of my summer prior to leaving for Spain, I was so anxious. I was overthinking everything; this was a totally new, unfamiliar experience that I was embarking on completely alone. I was scared I would forget something essential, or would not like the other people in the program. But, as I found, everything truly works out.

Another recommendation would be to try every single cultural experience you can do. Immersing yourself completely in tradition and culture has proven to be one of the most effective, gratifying ways to learn. For instance, Flamenco originated in the south of Spain, and we spent endless hours in the bustling flamenco bars and watching flamenco street shows across the city.

Finally, I recommend documenting everything. I began journaling every Sunday, writing in detail about the prior week, and I took so many pictures with both my film and digital cameras. Providing content for Penn Abroad has also motivated me to document everything meticulously- for which I am super grateful. I know that years from now I will be looking back at these pictures and reading these journal entries, and reminiscing on how much fun I was having and how much self-growth I was experiencing.

Through pushing myself out of my comfort zone, diving head-first into new adventures, and trying new things every day, I can confidently say that this semester has changed my life for the better. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to study abroad, and absolutely recommend the abroad experience to anyone.

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The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.