When we got off the plane in Seville, we had no idea what to expect. Jet-lagged and cranky, all we wanted to do was find the nearest bed and fall into a deep sleep. However, our tiredness quickly turned into excitement when we walked out of the airport and got our first glimpse of beautiful southern Spain.
Over the summer, I went on a Spanish immersion trip to Spain with fifteen other Collegiate students and three Collegiate faculty. During our two weeks in Spain, we traveled to three main cities: Seville (or Sevilla in Spanish), Granada, and Cádiz. Seville quickly became my favorite because of its beautiful scenery, close-knit host families, and personal connection to Collegiate Spanish teacher Sra. Esperanza Soria-Nieto.
After landing in Seville, we took a bus to Colegio Internacional Alminar, Collegiate’s partner school in Dos Hermanas, Spain. We were quickly introduced to our host sisters, who then showed us around their school and played ice-breaking games with us. Later, our host sisters gave us our first taste of traditional Spanish food, including the delicious tortilla española, which immediately became a group favorite. Once we finished, we were picked up by our host families and taken home for some much needed rest.
Staying with host families in Seville was the highlight of the trip for many Collegiate students. Cristina Muncy (‘17) says her host family in Seville is now her second family. She says that when she got to Seville her family welcomed her with open arms and made her feel like she belonged there, even though we were only staying for a few days. I personally loved my host family because despite a slight language barrier, they always made me laugh and feel at home, even though I was thousands of miles away from my real family. Many of the students from the trip, including myself, still keep in regular contact with our host families and hope to visit them again one day.
While sightseeing in Seville, we visited three main sites that Collegiate students claimed as their favorites. First, we visited the Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The Seville Cathedral is incredibly decorated, with ornate carvings on almost every surface of the building, and it is surrounded by massive, looping chains that separate it from the rest of the city. Soria-Nieto, a Seville native, fondly remembers using the chains of the cathedral as a safe “base” in games of tag with her elementary school friends.
Once inside the cathedral, visitors can see 80 side chapels, discover “secret” tunnels leading to different parts of the cathedral, and even visit the tomb of Christopher Columbus. My favorite feature, however, was La Giralda, the cathedral’s bell tower. Standing 103 meters high, La Giralda offers breathtaking views of Seville from a bird’s eye view. Although reaching the top was a struggle (it involved trudging up 35 inclined stone ramps), it was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip.
Next, we visited the beautiful gardens of Alcázar of Seville. These gardens are most widely recognized as one of many settings for the popular television series Game of Thrones. Filled with bubbling fountains, colorful flowers, and the occasional angry peacock, Alcázar of Seville was the perfect place for group photos and a refreshing change of scenery. Muncy enjoyed walking around the gardens because it “was enormous and beautiful, and we got to get to know our hosts better as we were walking through together.”
Finally, we visited the ruins of the ancient castle of Alcala De Guadaira. The castle, located high on a hill overlooking the city, loomed high above the ground and was different from any castle I had ever seen. We climbed up the narrow steps of the ruins’ two observation towers, jumped over the elevated, rocky floor, and took countless pictures against its stone walls. Everyone left the castle a little out of breath but grateful for the opportunity to explore genuine ruins for themselves.
The city of Seville truly has something to offer everyone. It provides a different feel for tourists; unlike the craziness of Barcelona or Madrid, Seville provides visitors with southern Spanish charm. Its countless historical sites are very entertaining for tourists, and its little shops are perfect for souvenir shopping. I would highly recommend Seville to anyone visiting Spain in the near future.
All photos by Claire Andress.