I’m officially at the halfway point for in my five-week immersion in Sevilla, Spain. I thought I’d touch briefly on my experience to this point…
The first week was by far one of the most difficult experiences of my entire life. I had some real basic Spanish experience before this trip, but nothing substantial. I was truly immersed in Spanish – I had to rapidly learn how to talk and understand because I physically needed perform basic functions like eating, sleeping, and siesta.
The second week was when the fun began. I’m not sure when it happened, but I was suddenly able understand people when they spoke slowly and could communicate back basically in the present sense.
I am halfway through my third week, and I can now talk in the present perfect (e.g. have you [verb], I have already [verb], etc.) and the present continuous/progressive (e.g. [verb] + ing). After I get in a flow, I am able to communicate quite consistently and hold substantial conversations about topics like the economic crisis in Spain, politics, work, etc. in Spanish.
I’m living with a single senora that is a talented cook and takes excellent care of me. It was really tough at first since she speaks primary Spanish, but at this point we can communicate pretty seamlessly. She makes breakfast and lunch for me at specific times. I have a shower at 20:30 every night (because we need to turn the hot water on, which is heated by natural gas). At night I go hunt for tapas with friends.
At my school CLIC (Centro de Lenguas y Intercambio Cultural) I’ve been one of the one a few Americas. To break it down by nationality I’d say the school is 40% Australian, 20% Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, 15% Dutch, and the rest of the students are scattered nationalities (Swiss, Portuguese, Greek, French, Italian English, American, and others). Spanish and English are the only common languages, so often we speak Spanish since it’s one of the only common grounds to communicate. Everything is in Spanish at the school. Everything. I personally have class 9:00 – 13:00. In the afternoons the school holds cultural events and there is usually a weekend trip to a nearby city.
After lunch (which is ridiculously massive) I take a nap for an hour or two before either doing a school hosted cultural activity or one of the various activities in Sevilla (museums, events, exercise, etc.). I always come home for my 20:30 shower. Afterwards I take it pretty easy during the week because I have class in the morning, so I usually just have a long dinner before heading home to bed. On the weekends, however, there is quite a vibrant nightlife in Spain. I usually travel to a new city for the day on Saturday before returning to Sevilla to enjoy the night. My extracurricular experiences as a Greek (Fraternity) student at Indiana University Bloomington prepared me physically and mentally for the nightlife here in Spain. A typical weekend night can start at 10pm and end as late as 5am… heavy emphasis on typical. The bar scene here is extremely friendly and the nightclub scene is pretty similar to American nightclub experiences except people can actually dance (sorry, Amerikuh, you know it’s true).
Overall I’m having a fantastic experience. I was that guy back in middle school who was 2 grades ahead in math and 2 grades behind in Spanish. I never thought I’d be able to learn a foreign language and I still can’t believe I’ve arrived at where I am in just 2 and a half weeks.