December 11, 2018

Flamenco: from jondo to pop

When you hear music and Spain in the same sentence, automatically Flamenco comes to your mind. Passion, intensity, people dancing and moving their arms and hips, claps… Revolutionary artists from the XX century such as Paco de Lucía and Camarón marked the difference in this genre. Its origins are from the XV century in Andalusia, the south of the country. It is seen as a result of many mixed cultures: Arab, Jewish, Gypsy...

The singers of this genre are known as ‘cantaores’. We have to distinguish between many ‘palos’ (styles within the genre): ‘cantiñas’, ‘bulerías’, ‘fandangos’... In addition to those, there is something called ‘cante jondo’ and it is a way of singing. ‘Jondo’ comes from ‘hondo’ and this means deep. The artists we have already mentioned are in the traditional flamenco: Camarón de la Isla, singer, and Paco de Lucía, guitarist. Plus José Menese, Antonio Molina or Enrique Morente, just to mention a few.

Camaron y Paco de Lucia

Camaron y Paco de Lucia

It must be emphasized that not only singers but also guitarists and dancers are essential in this genre. Sara Baras and Joaquín Cortés are ‘bailaores’, professional dancers recognised around the world. Those who are lucky to watch them can feel the authenticity of their feelings. There is a huge difference between ‘flamenco puro’ and ‘classical flamenco’. The first one is more casual, with no rehearsal. It is more improvised and it is commonly seen in the gypsy communities due to their influence on this style. The second one is the classical, which has more rehearsal and some kind of ballet base. One tip for recognising which is which is looking at the hips: there is hip movement in both of them but far less in the classical style.

Regarding the guitarists, they are known as ‘tocaores’. They usually use the flamenco guitar, which is a bit different than the classical guitar. Sabicas is very iconic, so they are Tomatito, Manolo Sanlúcar or Pepe Habichuela. However, Paco de Lucía is considered the best flamenco guitarist among all.

Flamenco can be also played in a more modern style and that is what singers such as José Mercé or El Cabrero do. When it comes to bands, we cannot forget about Ketama, Pata Negra or Los chichos (being the last one even more modern).

We could spend days talking about this music style but it is worth noting that Flamenco is timeless. Modern Flamenco is suffering from a renewal with the help of Rosalía, who could be included inside the flamenco pop. However, her style is not that simple and it is complicated to classify it. She is a young woman who has already released two albums. The last one is called ‘El mal querer’. It is conceptual and it tells a story of a girl in a toxic relationship: how she gets married, how everything gets worse over time, the harassment she suffers and, most important, how she gets over it and grows stronger and determined, more than ever, everything seen from a gypsy perspective. She is becoming very famous and international and her performances are awesome. Even the Kardashians listen to her music!




October 31, 2018

Spanish TV series on Netflix.

You have probably heard about learning a language by watching movies or TV series more than once. It is true that you can improve your skills: you will learn about the culture of a foreign country if the TV show is set in the past, if it is a fiction TV series, you will get hooked and you will definitely be engrossed in it if it is a fantasy TV program. There are many Spanish TV series in digital platforms, such as Netflix, to choose. These following TV series are the ones I like the most.

The first Spanish TV show is Las chicas del cable (“Cable Girls”). It tells the story of four girls in the 1920s in Madrid who fall in love and they become close friends over time. However, they also witness the changes women live in the work environment and also when an upper-class woman was not supposed to work. Besides, girl power is throughout the TV show, they become stronger, more confident and there is a sisterhood among them. Moreover, the characters are very complex and the roles are played by great actresses. These are the most influential facts of the TV show. The main character is called Julia Aguilar although her real name in the TV show is Alba Romero. She is being blackmailed by a police inspector who wants her to steal money from the national telecommunications company. She goes undercover in there and, by chance, the love of her life is one of the most important executive positions of the company. I addition to this, she gets to know some girls, each one more different from the next one, and they become her friends. It is noteworthy that the third season has just been released.

Las Chicas del Cable

Las Chicas del Cable

Similarly, there is another TV show which also discusses female topics and it is called “Vis a Vis” (with the same title in the United States and as “Locked Up” in the United Kingdom). It focuses on Macarena García, a young woman who was in love with her boss who was accused of economic malfeasance and tax evasion and sent to a women’s prison. At first, she is innocent, naïve and scared but finally Macarena learns how to adapt to her new situation. The atmosphere in the prison is not easy, but cruel and violent in an entertaining way. The story is told in four seasons.

Vis a Vis

Vis a Vis

Last but not least, we can find on Netflix La casa de papel (“Money Heist”). This time, the eight robbers who star in the TV show are not all women. Nevertheless, there are two girls in the band, one of them is very intelligent and the other very feisty: Nairobi and Tokio, respectively. The band plans a theft in the Royal Spanish Mint with the help of the Professor, the head of the band who is outside with the thought leadership. They want to steal money from no one, this is why they take hostages, among them the British ambassador’s daughter, and start to print out the Euro notes. There are two seasons of the TV serie but the third season will be released in 2019. You can’t afford to miss it!!

Las Casa de Papel

Las Casa de Papel

September 25, 2018

Through other eyes: places to study.

You are in a new beginning of your lives. New country, new city, and even the people are different. As a Spaniard, I can say that we are often known by our parties and traditions, the heat and our outgoing behaviour. But we have our nice and quiet places too: places where you can study in a peaceful way.

To make a good use of this experience, I feel like you should discover those places. I will give you some suggestions for those studying in Sevilla or those who are planning or visiting the city. Here we have public libraries all around the city where you can rent all types of books and movies. Also, they have a space for studying, free Wi-Fi, and one of the most important facts: air conditioner and central heating.

Some of those libraries are Biblioteca Pública Municipal Alberto Lista or Biblioteca Pública Municipal Julia Uceda. Personally, my favourite option is Biblioteca Pública Infanta Elena. A lot of interesting conferences are held there, it is very bright because of its large windows and it has got two floors. Definitively, it is comfortable and silent. The address is C/Av. de María Luisa, 8, 41013 Sevilla. You can check the opening times in the official website, but in winter it opens on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it is closed on Sundays.

Besides those, we have other options. As you may know there are two public universities in Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla and Universidad Pablo de Olavide. The first one has got a lot of libraries such as Biblioteca de Humanidades. If you click on this link you will be able to access to all of them; the photos below are from the Humanidades library, but do not deceive yourself! It has got a lot of rooms and all different from the others. It is not necessary to be a student from this university to study there, do not worry! This one is in the centre of Sevilla, next to Puerta Jerez. The accurate address is



The second public library is from the UPO: Universidad Pablo de Olavide, I bet you have heard about it before. The advantage is that it is on campus, which is surrounded by nature, and probably some birds will be flying around: the windows are always opened to get fresh air. In case you are a student from this university, you can book study rooms, which are in the second floor, to do some group work if you are an UPO student at that moment. But if you just want to study there, you do not have to be a member: the entrance is free. The coolest thing is that you can take a break and lie down on the grass, which is all around outside the library, or you can also go to the snackbar “Santa Clara”, which is a few metres from there.


Let’s admit it, these are just a few of the endless possibilities you have in Sevilla for studying. I hope you all have the feeling of discovering new options by yourself after reading this!

Until the next post!

April 30, 2018

Tortilla de Patatas Recipe

Hi guys! I hope you’re all doing great. I decided this time to write about gastronomy, and what better than posting the recipe of the Spanish Tortilla de Patatas? For the ones who don’t know, tortilla in Spain means omelette, so it has nothing to do with the tortilla chips. And now that we are about to start counting the steps of the recipe, it’s time for the Spanish debate: to decide whether we are going to include the onion (cebolla in Spanish) or not. You may think this is unnecessary, but this has actually led to wars and end of friendships (OK, maybe not that much) but it is actually a thing the Spanish people talk about. If you think this is only me who thinks that, please check this post (in Spanish)

In this article, written in Spanish, the most famous Spanish chefs take sides in this battle, and divide themselves between sincebollistas (“if it has onion it’s not a potato tortilla, it’d be a onion tortilla) and concebollistas (“you need to add the onion, otherwise it’s tasteless and I’ll be missing something). ANYWAY, I’m pro-onion so we’ll be using it today.

Regarding ingredients for 4 servings, you’ll be needing:

  • 5 or 6 eggs
  • Salt
  • 4 big potatoes
  • 3 onions
  • Olive oil
  • A splash of milk (optional)


First, we’re going to peel the potatoes and dice them along with the onions. You can always use more potatoes, but that also means that you’ll need more eggs and onions. Once we’ve diced both, we’re gonna put olive oil in a pan and when it gets hot, we’ll add the onion first and when it turns golden, we’ll add the potatoes. You can cover it so it fries faster (using the steam) and cook them until they get a little darker. Once you get golden-ish, take them out leaving the oil in the pan. We are going to save this oil to fry potatoes and onions other times.

In a bowl, we’re going to beat the eggs with some salt and the optional splash of milk, and add the fried onions and potatoes afterwards. We’re gonna use the frying pan again but with very little olive oil this time, and we are going to let it cook for a couple minutes, or two minutes and a half.


The most difficult step is when you have to flip the tortilla. To perform that, we need a very big plain dish that can cover the pan and cross our fingers so it doesn’t fall. Try flipping it on top of the sink just in case, as it’s easier to clean there. You need to be fast. Here’s a video so you can see how it’s done:

Once you’ve flipped it, put uncooked part facing down back in the pan and let it cook for a minute and a half more or less! Then serve it in a dish immediately or otherwise it will keep cooking, turning dry afterwards.

Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas

ADVISORY: This is MY recipe. It does not mean that it’s the right way to do it, there’s a thousand different options. I just think it’s easy this way and that’s how I always cook it!

December 20, 2017

Volunteering in Sevilla

Hello! My name is Samantha Dinsdale, and I am a junior from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, USA. I am a Medical Biology major on the Pre-Medicine track with a minor in Latin American Studies. I decided to study abroad here in Seville, Spain in the Fall 2017 semester, and while fully immersing myself into this beautiful culture, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at a private hospital. I created a curriculum vitae and wrote a motivation letter, both in Spanish, and sent them to Miriam, our program coordinator, to have my information passed along. Upon my arrival, Miriam helped me gain contact with them and schedule an interview. The interviewers were from the International Office of the clinic and were enthusiastic about helping me find a position at the clinic. I first needed to take a test that every employee and volunteer must pass before starting. The test was to ensure my knowledge of the rules and regulations of the clinic, and after the lengthy process I was finally able to begin volunteering.

During my time at the clinic, I shadowed urgency and family medicine physicians who were eager to teach me and speak with me in Spanish. I learned how to diagnose and treat patients, the process of obtaining a medical degree in Spain, and how the clinic itself operates. Everyone within the clinic was kind, and I could improve my Spanish by speaking to every fellow employee, the patients, and pharmaceutical representatives. I loved going to the clinic every week to see how medicine in Spain operates in comparison to the United States. I learned a lot from this experience and will carry it with me throughout all my future endeavors.

December 18, 2017

Most important events in Spain

The Three Kings Parade (January 5-6)

Spanish people love Santa Claus but they love even more the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. This is a great day for little kids, and not so little. That’s why we have a huge parade with kids throwing candies and other gifts. There is a parade in the main cities and neighborhoods on January 5 and 6.

Carnaval (February - flexible date)

This festival has a different duration depending on the city. It is an event  in which people dress up (as funny things, characters…) in most places. In Cádiz, people walk around the city to hear original songs sung by different groups too and a contest is held in the Falla theater. In the Canary Islands and Badajoz, as well as in some other countries of Latin America, the festival is called “murgas”. There is another type of Carnaval in Las Palmas (a huge one) in which they choose the Queen of the Carnival and there is a drag contest too .

Semana Santa (or Holy Week) (March - flexible date)

There is not an exact day for the beginning of Holy Week or Semana Santa: it depends on the moon. Semana Santa begins the first Sunday of March when there’s a full moon. It is a huge event for lots of Spanish people but it might change depending on the region. Find everything you need to know in the post  and in “Semana santa: Seville’s biggest holidays”:



Las Fallas de Valencia (March 15-19)

Artists work really hard on building colossal statues made of paper, cardboard, wood or cork. From the 15th to the 19th of March, there are lots of people in the streets wearing traditional costumes, eating sweets, and there are sculptures that can be visited outside and inside. Las Fallas starts with the “Crida” the last Sunday of February in which the Fallera Mayor (the ambassador of this festivity) calls all the population of the city. A contest is held the last day of the festivity and then all of the artwork is burned at night. You can also find the "mascletàs" that are held from at 2PM and consist of a huge pyrotechnic show. The fire is the essence of the party, it purifies the vices and evils of society and a new cycle begins. It is a renewal from the ashes, the beginning of spring.

pic3 (1)

Feria de Sevilla (April-May - Flexible)

We have a lot of ferias (fairs) in Spain and in different dates. However, the one in Sevilla is the main reference. Here you have everything you need to know about the Feria of Sevilla:

“Vocabulary to enjoy the Feria de Abril as a true sevillano”


“A bailar a bailar alegre sevillanas”



Fiesta de las Cruces (May - Flexible date depending on the city/village)

The “Cruces de mayo” (May Crosses) is a Christian event takes place in May because it is the Virgin and the flower’s month. Depending on the city, it is celebrated during the first week of May, every weekend or both. Córdoba is really famous for its “Cruces de mayo” because every square is fully decorated with flowers and a cross in the middle (decorated with flowers too). Some people wear flamenco dresses in some villages. Córdoba also holds contests for the best decorated square.

La noche de San Juan (June 23)

It’s summer! and in many places of the world we celebrate this festivity. Many Spaniards spend the night at the beach, with huge bonfires and fireworks. It welcomes the summer and originally it was celebrated on the 21th, but because of St. John the Baptist we celebrate it on the 23th.


San Fermín (July 7)

It starts with the “chupinazo” from the balcony of the City Hall of Pamplona on July 6 at noon and it ends at 12 AM on July 15 with the song “Pobre de mí...” (Poor me), which is a farewell song. One of the most famous activities of the Sanfermines is the “encierro”, which consists of running through a route of 849 meters in front of the bulls to lead the bulls into the bullring. Each “encierro” normally lasts an average of 3 minutes. After that, all day long consists of eating and having fun with friends. There are open air music and dance.

Fun fact: the famous film “Knight and Day” (starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) placed this event in Sevilla and Cádiz. However the event takes place in Pamplona (Navarra) only.

La Tomatina (August flexible)

La Tomatina takes place in the Valencian municipality of Buñol (Valencia). It is always celebrated on the last Wednesday of August. The participants throw tons and tons of tomatoes (that are not edibles) at each other.

La Mercè (September 24)

La Mercè is the one of the biggest festivity in Barcelona. It is celebrated in honor of La Virgen de la Merced (Mercy’s Virgin). There are parades, a meeting of giants from all over Catalonia, a contest of castells (human towers) and Sardana dancing (typical dance from Catalonia). There is also a wine fair, the correfoc (people running and dancing with fireworks wearing demon’s costumes), a marathon and the "Piromusical" (fireworks and lights accompanied with music all over the Montjuïc).

Día de la Hispanidad - Fiesta Nacional de España (October 12)

This is the national day of Spain. The celebration traditionally includes a military parade attended by the King, along with the Royal Family, the President of the Government and other high representatives of all the powers of the State. October 12 is celebrated in Zaragoza too with Fiesta del Pilar (local festivity).


Día de todos los santos (November 1)

This day (All Saints’ Day) many people visit the graves of their deceased and they pray for those who left. We do the same thing the 2nd November and it is called the “Deceased’s day”. On the other hand, the night of Halloween is celebrated on Oct. 31 (1 night only) and is more and more popular in Spain.

The Constitution Day (December 6)

This is the day that our constitution was signed after several years of dictatorship and a process of transition. Two days after this day, we celebrate the day of the Immaculate Conception. Although Catholic in its origins, this festivity remains as one of the official State holidays and there are events in some cities like Sevilla. In this city the Tunos go around the city singing and glorifying the Virgin.

May 12, 2017


¡Hola de nuevo!

Not long ago, you were arriving at the airport with all your luggage, trying to get through your jetlag, full of doubts and mumbling an ‘hola’. How were you going to survive your time in Spain? Well, time does actually fly, and now you can laugh at all the insecurities you had when you first arrived in the country.

Now you probably know more places in the city than many locals, you have traveled around Europe (and even Africa), you can speak Spanish without going blank and you have boosted your confidence. To sum up, YOU have changed and that is fantastic.

photo 1 (post 3)

We are sure that you are looking forward to seeing your family and friends back home, but at the same time you will certainly miss this whole experience. How will you get back to your ‘normal’ life? We have all been there before and we know that it can be hard sometimes.

‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’ is a quote to follow during this transition but, what it is more important, try bringing everything you have learnt to your daily life back home. What about helping exchange students arriving to or departing from your home university? Why not engaging in some youth initiatives? And a masters overseas? How about getting a job where you get to practice your Spanish? Your experience abroad opens the door for many other experiences that are about to come. Your time here is not the end but the beginning of many other things! So, embrace it and keep the sparkle!

See you soon here, back home or in another corner of the world!

photo 2 (post 3)


March 10, 2017

The perks of being an exchange student

¡Hola a todos!

We are already halfway through the semester and most of you are now working on your midterm exams. For this reason, we thought that this would be the perfect moment to cheer you up by reminding you about some of the reasons why studying abroad is awesome!

  1. Learning a foreign language. Whether you like languages or not, being able to speak a language other than English is a great advantage. While studying abroad, you do not only learn a new language in class but also in real-life situations! This means that you get to learn words that you would never learn in a language class, including some slang words that locals use all the time.
  2. Getting to know other cultures. When you are abroad, you come across different traditions and customs that can help you understand how people in other countries think. The best thing is that, if you like them, you can incorporate them to your daily life when you come back home!


  1. Making new friends. Being abroad and speaking other languages means that you do not only meet other Americans, but also international students and local people. And having friends all around the world is the best excuse to travel.


  1. Getting out of your comfort zone. It is only when you try new things, when you really learn and acquire new skills. Being abroad does not only contribute to your resume, it also helps you to learn more about yourself and to become a more independent and resolute person.
  2. Doing new things every day. One of the best things of studying abroad is being able to answer ‘two hours ago’ or ‘today’ when asked ‘when was the last time you did something for the first time?’. In addition, when you come back home, you will have lots of stories to tell your family and friends.


  1. Appreciating your family and friends even more. Spending a time away from your usual social environment helps you reflect on how much you value them.

Can you think of  more advantages of being an exchange student?

Have a fantastic weekend!

January 27, 2017

Spain’s rich cultural heritage

¡Hola a todos!

I hope you’re having a fantastic beginning of your spring semester here in Seville. As you might have already noticed, in Spain −especially in the region of Andalusia− there are still traces of all the civilizations that once lived in the peninsula. One of the cultures that had more impact on the south of Spain was the Islamic one. The Iberian Peninsula was almost completely conquered by Moorish Muslim armies from North Africa in the early 8th century, and they remained here until 1492, when the Reconquista was completed and the Catholic Monarchs −Queen Isabella I of Castille and King Ferdinand II of Aragon− expelled the last Muslims living in the sultanate of Granada. All that happened a long time ago but we can still physically see this part of the Spanish history and you, as students of our Spring Program in Seville, have the chance to visit two of the major monuments of that period: the Alcázar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada.

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Located right next to the Seville Cathedral, the Alcázar is a beautiful royal palace that serves as an example of the mudéjar style. It was originally built for the Moorish Muslim kings and it’s still used by the Spanish Royal Family as its official residence in Seville. What’s more, in 2015 it became the set for some episodes of the well-known TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. How many rooms of the Alcázar can you recognize in the first episodes of season 5?

Alcazar de Sevilla

Alcazar de Sevilla

Alhambra de Granada

This impressive nazarí palace is located in Granada, the city in which the last Muslims lived before being expelled. Its rooms are richly decorated and its Court of the Lions (in Spanish, patio de los leones) has become one of the landmarks of the city.

Apart from these beautiful palaces, the Islamic period also left an indelible imprint on our language. Some everyday words such as almohada (pillow), aceite (oil), aceituna (olive), café (coffee), or naranja (orange) are derived from Arabic!

Alhambra de Granada

Alhambra de Granada

December 20, 2016

The new you

Granada trip, Fall 2016

Granada trip, Fall 2016

Only a few days left for your new adventure, you are going to live in a different city, miles away from your town. You have to pack all the stuff, because you want everything with you. Now it is time to go to the airport! Just three planes, and here you are. This was you, four months ago.

This experience is coming now to an end, and you are not the same person who arrived here, with all your suitcases and saying ‘adiós’ when you meant to say hello. But this was just the beginning. You used your time travelling around Europe (and even África). You learnt a little bit about Andalucía and our culture. You can now impress your family and friends dancing Flamenco, or at least, trying it.  You learnt Spanish, or how to order things in a bar. You were brave riding a camel, because you wanted your souvenir photo. And the most important thing, you have pictures in the places where Game of Thrones was filmed.

But let’s be serious. This experience abroad has changed you, a lot. Maybe you are not going to realize of that at the beginning, but as time goes by, you will. You are no longer just a USA citizen, you are now a world citizen. In a few weeks you will remember this like a very happy period of your life, but in a few months, you are going to miss it. You will want to feel this in your body again. This is the emotion of living new things and meeting new people in places where you can’t even imagine. You have to live with that, or… you can take a map, point a place and travel again!

I studied abroad in Finland during the 2015-2016 academic year, right before you came to Sevilla, and  I can tell you, this is going to be one of the best things in your life. All the bad memories are going to be eclipsed by all the good you have experienced. Because at the end, you only take the best part and keep it in your heart. And this is why I want to thank you for all this amazing moments, and for letting me relive the experience with you guys in Sevilla!


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