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Hayley Rozman

Living Like a Local

by Hayley Rozman Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A few days ago, a friend said to me, “I spent all my money traveling. I wish I would’ve stayed in Seville more. You’re so lucky.” Another person said, “You know so many Spaniards—it’s so cool.”

It’s true, I do! Here’s a photo from a fun night out with two of my closest Spanish friends—my orientation guide, Enrique (left) and Manú (right)—also featuring my accidental bunny ears.

But in all honesty, I felt a lot of pressure to take advantage of the proximity and cheap travel to many countries in Europe. It’s hard not to feel left out when your friends are sharing photos of exotic beaches, ancient architecture, and rolling hills, and you’ve chosen to stay in your home city for the weekend (or in my case—for many weekends). But if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Around two months ago I met my best friend, Nacho, when a few locals joined my class for the day to discuss cultural differences between the U.S. and Spain. A week later, he convinced me to try dancing (bachata and salsa), and I’ve spent the past two months falling in love with the dance community here. During the week, Nacho helps me stay on track with my studies by inviting me to the library and by acting as my personal dictionary for all the hip Sevillian Spanish phrases I could ever need. And on the weekends, bailamos! We dance! One time I was even invited to a barbeque with his family—complete with four different kinds of meat, bread that you share by ripping it apart with your hands, and a lot of sobremesa, or table talk.

Feeling like a celebrity when the professional photographer snapped a photo while I was dancing bachata with a gentleman at baile social--social dance!

I decided to stay in Seville for Spring Break #1—Semana Santa, or Holy Week. This was the first time I could spend a lot of time with my host mom and sister, as we usually have pretty busy schedules. Together we went to see one of the religious processions called a Paso (see below). We also took a day trip with their family friends to a summer home where we had a pizza party, played Uno, and enjoyed the sun. On Palm Sunday, a friend and I went to a Spanish misa, and despite not being able to sit down nor hear a single thing, it was neat to see a church mass here.

This Paso of the Virgin Mary was breathtaking—there are around 40 men underneath to carry it, for the procession that can last upwards of 12 hours.

We had drinks and hung out outside after the family lunch. My five-year-old host sister played hair stylist and took a photo of my host mom and I.

My point is, it’s okay to not travel every weekend. I was riding some major guilt trips at least once a week about how I was only in Seville (the most beautiful city around, if you ask me). I came to Spain to immerse myself in the culture and improve my Spanish, and I’ve gotten all of that and more.