Is Seville the destination for your Spanish Immersion? Congratulations! You’ve chosen one of the most beautiful regions in Spain. Taking the first steps outside your host family’s home can be tricky, so here are 5 tips to start you off on the right foot.
1. Sign up for an intercambio…or two…or three. An intercambio is a Spanish student who is willing to practice Spanish with you and in return, you will help them learn English. This is a great way for you to practice Spanish outside of the classroom and homestay, and since you’re both learning and willing to teach each other, there’s less pressure to speak perfectly. At the beginning of the semester, I had six intercambios, but by the end of the semester I was in touch with two. You may not hit it off with every intercambio, and that’s okay! But the more you sign up for, the more opportunities you have to make friends, learn more deeply about the local culture, and explore parts of the city you otherwise wouldn’t know about.
2. Walk around, find a bench, and people watch in Parque de Maria Luisa. This is a beautiful park that is connected to Plaza de España. It’s a great spot to draw, read, exercise, or smell the orange trees. Whenever I had some free time after class, I would go to this park and just take it in. There’s a lot to reflect on during an immersion program. Make sure to make time for it.
3. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Wander the streets and tiny alleys. It will help you to understand your home for the next few months. I encourage you to explore beyond the walk you take between home and school; there’s so much to see beyond the usual. And your friends will be impressed with how well you can navigate the city.
4. Practice Spanish! You’re going to make mistakes and Sevillanos will laugh at you. That’s okay. When I made a mistake, I remembered that what I said was incorrect and then I didn’t make the same mistake again. Mistakes are the best teachers when learning a new language.
5. Make plans to travel to other cities in Europe, but also make plans to stay in Seville. You chose to study abroad here and for good reason. Be intentional about how you spend your days and weekends. Your time abroad is limited, and everyday is an opportunity to learn something new and grow. Make time for Seville and it will make time for you.