Remembering my time abroad in the U.S. brings me many good memories; but just like how many of you feel now, I was surprised with a few things. It is probably all of the American College movies that I have watched that affected my mind and gave me the stereotypes of Greek life and American football, but in reality the fraternities/sororities didn’t seem that crazy and American football wasn’t that hard to understand either - I actually ended up enjoying the matches with everyone. However, the stereotypes of the dining halls were true: healthy options were way more expensive than junk food. We might not have clubs or big dorms or big sport stadiums like university campuses in the United States, but you will certainly like Spain’s cultural and educational differences just as much as I did there.
The first thing that you will notice when walking into a Spanish classroom is that everyone already knows each other. In Spain, we start and end our college life with the same classmates and most of the times in the same classrooms. This is very different from classroom culture in the US where there may be both seniors and freshman in the same class. Another thing that is expected here is that all the classmates together do a pretty exciting trip at the end of the university called “Viaje de Fin de Carrera”.
How to apply for university probably shocked me the most. For example, I learned in the United States that students apply for a specific university, and they can freely change major at almost any point. In Spain, we have to apply for a certain degree and stick with it for the entire time. In order to apply we have to obtain la nota de corte (the minimum grade to get into a specific degree) in Selectividad (university access exams).
Holidays in the US were also surprising for me. For instance, Thanksgiving was something that I never experienced before but I enjoyed getting to learn about - I was so full after having to eat all that food! Feria de Abril and Semana Santa (Holy Week) are two of the holidays that you will get to experience in Sevilla and that you will only get to see once a year. If you want to experience Sevilla’s culture, I highly recommend you to go to these events. It will definitely be something that you will never forget.
Just like I did before I went to the US and even while there, I bet you had (or have) a lot of stereotypes about Spain and the Spanish people. It is true that you may feel overwhelmed sometimes but that is okay because by the end of the semester you will become so accustomed to living in Sevilla that you will not want to leave.
See you in the next post!