Students are drawn to study abroad in Seville for any number of reasons. This city is the prototype of romantic Spain: it’s got flamenco, a Mediterranean climate and a common respect for the siesta. Not to mention, the cost of living is cheaper than in areas like Madrid or Barcelona, which means the price tag on a study abroad program here can be thousands less than those in more metropolitan cities.
These were a few of the reasons that enticed me to study here during my junior year of college. I knew I wanted to immerse myself in Spanish language and culture—like anyone else who studies abroad—and I wanted to be in a city that was big, but not too big. So I decided: I would spend my spring semester in Seville, perfecting my Spanish in the country where castellano, the European variety of Spanish, was born.
Now, two years since the conclusion of my program, I can safely say that my semester abroad was without a doubt the highlight of my college experience, but I could have benefitted from knowing a bit more ahead of time.
To Know Before You Go
The accent here is rough.
If you learned Spanish in the US, you probably never learned certain Spain-isms, such as the vosotros, second-person plural familiar, conjugation of verbs. I was disproportionately worried about such language technicalities; but many of them ended up being fairly easy to pick up on.
The climate is anything but tropical.
Maybe you’ve done a Google image search of Seville in your research—looks pretty nice, huh? Palm trees, no less. Coming from Chicago, I equated palm trees with a tropical year-round climate.
It’s possible to spend six months here without improving your Spanish.
Sure, you’ll be “immersed” in the language, at least in the sense that all the signs are in Spanish. If you go to buy stamps, bus tickets or anything else, you’ll also use your Spanish. However, it’s frighteningly easy to stay sealed in the expat bubble for the entirety of your time abroad, rarely (if ever) speaking Spanish.
If you want to study in Seville, stay in Seville.
Many of my study-abroad peers spent the entire semester gallivanting through Europe. Cheap flights to London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam will be tempting, but remember why you chose Seville in the first place: to get to know the city, the culture and the language.
About the Author
Lauren Sieben is a 20-something Midwesterner living in Sevilla, Spain and working as an English teaching assistant in a high school. For more tips, stories and haphazard reflections about life in Sevilla, visit her expat blog, Siebs in Spain, where you’ll also find posts from her semester as a student in Seville.
Further reading►Spain Country Guide
►Seville City Guide