- Try taking at least one Flamenco or Sevillano dance class. A group of students in our program have found a weekly dance class that is taught on Wednesday evenings. We are all preparing to show off our new talents during the week of Feria in early May, at the end of our program. Feria is a famous festival that is hosted in Sevilla each year in the spring, usually two weeks after Easter Sunday. Here you can see photos of a few UW-Madison students with our Flamenco instructor.
UW-Madison students taking a local Flamenco dance class with our teacher.
- Attend a cooking class, or ask your host family to give you a lesson. We were fortunate to have a cooking class organized by our program, and it was a blast. It was hosted in a Spanish woman’s apartment, and she walked us through the steps of making a traditional Spanish dish—tortilla Española (which is essentially a Spanish omelet with potatoes, eggs, cheese, and onions), and a delicious orange salad. I am looking forward to making the dishes when I return to America. Here you can see a photo of me flipping the tortilla Española over the stove.
Taking my first cooking class in Sevilla—flipping the tortilla Española over the stove.
- Consider attending a local church or synagogue for service. I ended up going to church for Ash Wednesday with my 80-year-old neighbor. Although I was only able to understand about 40 percent of the mass, the church itself was beautiful and everyone was very friendly to me. I was able to meet a few more of my neighbors, and they invited me to attend church with them on Sundays if I ever wanted to go. The church was called Hermandad de Santa Genoveva, and is apparently the best church in our barrio (neighborhood). Other observations: children still misbehave and get shushed/yelled at by their parents. Overall, a great experience!
- Check out the local theatres and operas. One Monday evening, another UW-Madison student and I bought tickets to see an opera along the river in Sevilla. The famous theater, Teatro de la Maestranza, was beautiful inside, and we were lucky enough to see the opera Cinderella. Although the music and lyrics were in Italian, they also included Spanish and English subtitles, so it turned out to be a great time. No matter what country you are studying in, I would recommend finding hidden gems and attending a local performance or theatre. Here you can see a photo of Rachael Gaenslan and me at the theatre.
At the Teatro de la Maestranza, getting ready to watch the opera Cinderella.
- Get involved in the community! Whether it be student orgs or volunteering, there are numerous ways to give back and become acquainted with the locals. I have recently started volunteering for a local primary and secondary school in a neighborhood nearby. The school, Portacelli, has asked me to read children’s stories to three-, four-, and five-year-olds in English, as well as help teach them basic conversational English. It has been so fun, and also very rewarding. Because I have been mostly meeting college-aged Sevillanos or adults, it has been refreshing to work with a younger sector and also learn more about their education system and serve as a basic TA.