First and foremost, I would like to apologize to all of the devoted COB blog readers out there for my clear lack of blogging commitment. But that is all about to change. I certainly enjoy sharing my experiences with my closest friends back home, but this experience was not solely encouraged by them, it was supported by others. That includes all donors and boosters of the College of Business and it certainly includes the fine people in the advising office that had to deal with my constant misunderstandings and forgetfulness in trying to put my trip together in the weeks and even months leading up to my flight to Spain. So for that I would like to say thank you to all those who have been involved in allowing me this amazing experience and I hope you all enjoy my deep and insightful revelations and adumbrations. These could very well be misconstrued as mindless babble but I can assure you it’s all insightful or something.
With all of the good stuff out of the way, let’s get into some more good stuff.
My name is Sterling Baker and I am an Accounting Major pursuing Minors in Spanish and International Business at the UofL College of Business and I have been studying in Sevilla, Spain for almost two months now. To be honest, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. Sevilla is a place of astounding beauty, history, and passion. It is constantly brimming with life and there is absolutely never a dull moment. Whether it is the Americans I am studying with or the Spaniards we meet that toss aside their daily duties to show us a good time, there is always something to do and someone to accompany you. I have already visited Madrid, Toledo, Matalascanas and Malaga in Spain, I have visited Lisbon and Evora in Portgual, Paris, France, and Hallgarten, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt, Germany and I can tell you Sevilla is a place in which I could spend the rest of my life.
With all of this travel, of course I am focusing on my studies as much as possible but let’s be honest, I’m in Spain. That isn’t always the most important thing. I feel like I have seen every nook and cranny of the city already while I know that I have barely scratched the surface of the history that this place holds. It is easy to fall into a routine: To go to the same restaurant/bar every night and take the same route to school every morning and take your siesta every day exactly when your body tells you too. However, I have found that spontaneity is the way of life here in Spain. Learn something new every day and talk to someone new every day and you can’t be left wanting. They told me that the pace of life is slower in Spain, but that isn’t something that I ever planned to adapt to, and I haven’t. Putting a little American twist on your cultural experience abroad can be a good thing, and of course help counteract any culture shock that presents itself.
With all of that being said, I have been told that I always look too much like an American in Spain. Well… if I am not trying to be an American in Spain then what am I trying to be? A Spaniard? Too many people try to become one of the locals while they’re here, but in my opinion that is a misguided way to spend your study abroad experience. I have grown to respect the culture in Spain, in Andalucia, in Sevilla, way too much to think that I could ever consider myself a Spaniard. I am a guest in this country and I am here to learn the culture and language and maybe even impart some of my own culture to the locals here. But I am not here to become a Spaniard, and I think that outlook has helped me immensely. It is easy to take random tourist traps and foreigner discrimination (Nothing crazy, just some higher priced English menus and guys trying to make you play goalie because they think you’re an American that doesn’t speak Spanish and can’t possibly be any good at soccer) too seriously when you are under the illusion that you’re a local. Just a small rant and a little bit of advice to help yourself stay on the ups in the roller coaster that is adapting to a new way of life.
To continue, the culture is amazing. The culture is absolutely amazing. Why go to sleep at 2 when you could have a couple more hours of fun and get a couple less hours of sleep? (Opportunity cost at its finest) Why have a 3 Euro coke at a meal when you could have a 1 Euro beer? (I’m no drunkard, but who am I to spit in the face of Spanish culture and ask my esteemed camarero(a) for something other than a beer?) Why be tired when you could siesta? Why siesta when you could visit a castle in the middle of a city, or see Roman ruins underneath a city, or see a chapel in Portugal literally made out of human bones? These are hard hitting questions if I’ve ever heard one. And the answer to all of them is: It’s your choice. These things are all part of the culture and you can choose to embrace any and all parts that you choose. Many Spaniards don’t even do all of these things while others do. Spain is diverse in itself and dabbling in every part of the culture is part of the fun. Sure bullfights are said to be gruesome and inhumane, and this castle or that castle is just another castle, but I’m going to experience that for myself. When else will I see a Corrida del Torros or visit El Torre de Belem sitting surrounded by a body of water off the coast of Lisbon? Live life one day at a time and put exhaustion in the back of your mind for a few months. It’s all about the Carpe Diem, really.
To sum up, this has absolutely been two of the best months of my life so far and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. I have met friends, best friends, and just so many awesome people in general while missing all of the awesome people back home. But it has all been worth it so far. This has been just a taste of my experience and I look forward to uploading a few more posts in the near future (i.e. less than two months from now). But until then, thanks for taking the time to read, y hasta la proxima.