UMD: A Globally Connected University

Aurora Gallagher

Program: Maryland-in-Sevilla
Term: Spring 2016

I went into this study abroad experience nervous that I did not know enough Spanish to do my schoolwork or to communicate with people. As an emersion program with a language requirement, I did not feel confident to speak solely in Spanish for an entire semester. At first, I was overwhelmed, especially arriving to my house in Sevilla and trying to communicate with my host-mother who knows a minimum amount of English. I had never done anything like that in my life before. Just three weeks in, I was completely adjusted. With the help of an intensive period of learning the language and lots of long after-dinner talks with my host-mother, I became more confident with my abilities to communicate in Spanish. I was even able to read books and write two eight-paged papers completely in Spanish! My semester here has taught me how quickly I can adjust to a new setting and how to be Spanglish. 

Every April, Sevilla hosts a huge fair called "Feria." The whole city shuts down for a week to drink, eat and dance in "casetas," which are fancy tents. Logistically, Feria consists of a grand entrance or "portada," around 2,000 casetas and an entire amusement park called "Calle de infierno" set on the outskirts of the city. This fair is one of the biggest events in Sevilla. The streets are packed with people sipping rebujito (a white wine and sprite mixture) and dancing traditional Sevillana folk dances. The women are dressed in amazing dresses inspired by the gypsies, with lots of colors, textures, ruffles and accessories. The men dress in nice suits with ties and sometimes pocket squares. Technically, Feria does not have opening or closing hours, and people are there at all times of the day, from early morning to late at night. Feria is an event for everyone to enjoy. It's a week of fiesta for children and elderly alike, and it was, by far, my favorite week in the city. 

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that enriches your college career. Although it is extremely terrifying being thrown into a new city and living with new societal and cultural norms, studying abroad is a change to challenge yourself. You challenge yourself everyday. My semester in Sevilla taught me so much about who I am and how I want to live my life. Although extremely difficult at times, living here in Sevilla is something I'll cherish and look back on with nostalgia. If you're nervous or contemplating whether or not to go abroad, I say just go for it! It will be a rewarding experience that you will never forget.