Monday, March 28, 2016

¡Saludos desde Sevilla!

¡Saludos a todos desde Sevilla, España! (Greetings to everyone from Sevilla, Spain!) As the streets of Sevilla are filled to the brim with visitors from all over the world to view the beautiful processions of the Sevillan Semana Santa (Holy Week), it’s nice to take a break from the craziness and relay to y’all some of the remarkable experiences I’ve had in Spain and Europe thus far.

This semester abroad is my very first time in Europe and what an excitement it has been! I landed in Madrid near the end of January, then traveled with my wonderful ISA program friends to Toledo and Sevilla, where I met my incredible host family. I have a host mother, father and a 9 year-old host sister that are absolutely amazing (not to mention that my host mom is the best cook I know in Spain, check out my “Food” album on Facebook for more delicious info). At university I am attending, La Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO), I have very intelligent and entertaining professors and have been provided opportunities for Conversational ESL (which I love doing) and socializing events with local Spaniards. Through the UPO I’ve begun to take private flamenco guitar lessons from a professional instructor, that way I can bring some of Spain back with me for y’all to enjoy! Throughout my time in the city I’ve made lasting friendships with many locals, with whom I hang out on the weekends playing instruments, cards, shooting pool, going out to dinner or just conversing with each other. Culturally, I’ve also been able to experience a Sevilla Soccer Club match, become a part of my family’s Catholic church, dine with Spanish families and friends, buy a bullfighting ticket for Feria de Abril and worm my way through the “buyas” (enormous crowds) of people to see the images of Semana Santa.
Pumped for the Sevilla-Levante match!

Playing cards after shooting some pool in Sevilla

One of the images of Semana Santa parading through the streets, carried by 35 men called "costaleros" from underneath
Excited for the upcoming bullfight during Feria de Abril!
Outside of Sevilla, I have been fortunate to be able to travel, from Cádiz to Antequera; Lisbon, Portugal; Berlin, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; Malmö, Sweden; and most recently, the Saharan Desert in Morocco. A superb treat while in Berlin was being able to see two fellow Levine Scholars, Eileen and Austin, and be able to traverse the city as any scholarly trio would.
Having a wonderful time in Berlin with Eileen and Austin!
Last week, I spent six days in Morocco, three of which were spent in the Sahara Desert. The trip brought back the awe, adventure and excitement of the NOLS expedition I completed with my LSP cohort and allowed me to catch a glimpse of the third-world, with its barefoot children in trash-ridden streets, jobless masses and inadequate infrastructure. In spite of the negative aspects I observed, I also met some of the friendliest people I’ve encountered in my life, all while taking in the natural beauty and vastness of the country.

Riding through the Sahara with the best camel in the desert, Kalil Hamid
Enjoying the beautiful sunrises and endless sands of the Moroccan desert!
With two months down and two to go, there are so many more people to meet, places to see, experiences to have and lessons to learn! I am so grateful for the Levine Scholars Program and this amazing opportunity they have provided me, now it’s time to make the most of it! 

--Esteban Mendieta, Class of 2018

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