Studying abroad can be a hugely rewarding and exciting experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. It can also be a little scary at first, especially if you’ve never spent more than a week or so away from home. Culture shock is a very common experience, but luckily there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you land on your feet, ready to embrace everything that comes your way. Here’s your guide to studying abroad in one of Europe’s greenest and most cosmopolitan cities: Seville.
Before you go
Packing for a long stay of several months or more can be a complicated business. Although the summer months are reliably warm in Seville, you’ll need at least one reasonably warm coat for winter, and something waterproof for the occasional rainy day. Try to pack practically; you really don’t need more than three pairs of shoes! It’s a far better idea to save room in your suitcase for things you might want to bring home instead.
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Don’t forget to check what your accommodation provides – you might need to bring your own sheets and pillowcases, towels, and a hair dryer.
Trying to navigate a new environment can be stressful at the best of times, but without a good grasp of the local language it can be an absolute nightmare. Seville’s buses are probably the easiest way to get around – there are stops on almost all of the main streets and they’re easy to recognise. If you plan on travelling a lot by bus, it’s a good idea to pre-buy a monthly ticket known as a bónobus, which you can get from most newsstands and tobacco shops. Always have a map of Seville and a map of the bus routes to hand and plan your journey in advance.
Seville is fairly flat and has plenty of cycle routes, so renting a cycle is another option, but it’s best to familiarise yourself with your route first. There’s also a tram running from Plaza Nueva to the Prado de San Sebastian Bus Station, with automated ticket machines at each stop, and a simple one-line metro system.
Etiquette and culture
The Spanish are pretty relaxed and friendly so there aren’t too many unfamiliar points of etiquette to worry about, but if you don’t already speak Spanish, practise a few choice phrases before you get to Seville. Attempting to speak the language is considered respectful and will always be appreciated.
Finally, you might be surprised to find that most restaurants don’t even open for dinner until around 9 or 10pm in Spain, and that many businesses close between the hours of 2-5pm for a long lunch and siesta. Life in Seville is designed around avoiding the hottest part of the day, and the only way to deal with it is to fully enjoy an afternoon siesta along with the locals before a long and leisurely late dinner.