A Month's Full of Lessons:
1. What the Spanish lack in kindness, they make up for in beauty.
Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are walking around all over the Sevillano streets. In general, they either ignore me completely or stare blankly at my Americanness. However, I have been able to find some amiable Spaniards. Some examples below.
3 Americans, 3 Spaniards.
Yes, that's right, I have Spanish friends. Manu, Juan, y Pablo. I met them through an "Intercambio" or language interchange activity done through CIEE and the University of Sevilla. They practice English with us, while we practice Spanish. We mostly just have fun enjoying Fanta and delightful language confusion.
2. I am loved. And I love letters.
30+ from afar.
I knew all of that before, of course. But thank you again to all of those of you who have sent me your smiles across the sea. It's nice because I think about you all a lot. I have cherished each and every letter and birthday card immensely, especially the fun package sent from Seward! One day, I received over 15 letters. A new record.
3. Outdoor cafes really are as wonderful as they seem.
There's going to be a lot more of these tiny cups of espresso and sunshine later on this semester.
4. Europe loves to hate America.
Those are strong words. But I've found that Europeans love to critique the US, while at the same time revere certain cultural elements.
I watch the Spanish news every morning and evening with my Señora. They monitor, mention, and discuss the United States or Obama daily.
My Señora likes the USA, but she also thinks Americans are too unhealthy. Of course, Spaniards drink more alcohol than they do water, smoke like chimneys, eat tons of white bread with each meal, and don't ever exercise.
I asked my Intercambios for names of good Spanish bands and musicians. But they listen to mostly American music and like watching American films.
Most of my professors have studied in the US and talk about their experience often. But they talk also discuss the open-mindedness of Spain, which has gay marriage, more environmental regulations, etc.
My poetry professor stopped a lecture to tell us how extremely important it was that we have an African-American president because of our past discrimination with slavery and Native Americans. Of course, they discuss their past with the Muslim and Jewish Spaniards as part of their "rich" cultural history.
And, as every Spaniard knows, Europe is superior, more sophisticated, and advanced than the United States. Oh, and the current economic problems are our fault. We should fix them already. Gez!
5. Los Españoles le encanta fútbol.
And, after watching a game, I understand why! I went to a Sevilla FC vs. FC Porto (Portugal) game. Final score 2-1, Porto. Although we lost, the game was amazing! And I learned a lot of colorful insults/palabrotas.
6. Americans have loud speaking voices.
In general, we talk louder than the Spanish. At least that's what I've found to be the case. It really irks me when a group of American students are practically yelling their conversations, in English, somewhere out in public. I've learned way too much about the current state of Brittany Spears' life and dumb TV shows about singing highschoolers. Talk about ruining a wonderfully exotic atmosphere. We're in Spain. We're here to study and learn. I'm going to speak Spanish. Do the same, at a normal volume, please and thanks.
7. Learning Spanish has caused my English spelling to suffer tremendously.
Some examples of this: heyllo, farmacy and yourr. Slipping back and forth in between the seas of language has it's difficulty as well. It took me about a minute to think of the word 'protest' today. I could only think of it's Spanish counterpart, manifestación. As they say here, vale la pena. Worth the trouble.
8. I want to move to Granada and live as a Spanish ski bum.
I'll live near a mountain, in a white house covered in plants and plates.
9. There is a rich Arab, Islamic history in Andalucia.
I love the art.
The Alhambra, the last stronghold of the Islamic Empire, until 1492.
Tea and pastries at an Arab Teteria in Granada
10. I love Sevilla more than I ever thought I would.
I like to pretend I won't have to leave. I'll sit by the river and speak Spanish forever. Sometimes I worry that this place and this language and this experience will slip back into the corners of my mind after I leave it. But then I know it really won't. I just remember this amazing city's motto:
Sevilla, No me ha dejado
(Sevilla, you have not left me)