The answer to that question at this exact moment in time is Seville, Spain. It’s 8:41 PM by the local clock, and I’m laying backwards on the bottom bunk of my bed multitasking– and by multitasking I mean flipping between Spotify, Facebook, and this post with a practiced, truly expert lack of focus. I wish I could say that I’m just taking a breather, that I’m laying here because I chose to, just resting a bit and then gearing up for another night of European mischief and fiestas and overall adventures. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It’s not even close to the case. I don’t currently have enough energy left in my system to convince you just how far from the case it could possibly be, so I’ll just approximate it to about…the distance between North and South Pole. The Earth and the Sun. Or maybe just myself and everything in this beautiful, historic, pedestrian hell of a city.
I’ve always allowed myself to claim some athletic skill, I’ve always been in some kind of passable shape, and yet no amount of peak-summer heat soccer camps or preseason track conditioning workouts could have prepared me for the test of mental and bodily strength that is my daily commute here in Seville. Today I walked eight miles to school and back again. Eight miles! The days here are long as well, much longer than I’m used to, and scheduled very differently from any place I’ve lived before– the morning doesn’t start until 8:00 am at the absolute earliest, and dinner won’t usually be served until 10:00 pm. Throw in a nationally observed mid-afternoon nap time and a nightlife that doesn’t begin until 1 am on top of all that and you might start to imagine how challenging it has been adjusting to the pace of life over here. But no matter how exhausted I am at the end of the day, no matter how many blisters I can count when I take my shoes off (although the going tally makes me wince), I am absolutely falling in love with this city.
In appearance, it’s gorgeous. Incredible. Winding, cobblestone streets lined by cafés and boutiques and terraced apartments lead out to fountains. Sculptures. Breathtakingly ornate and decorated buildings, the likes of which I’ve only ever seen in history books or movies. I walk to school everyday alongside a green river lined by palm trees and orange trees, where the low horizon permits perfect views of both the sunrise and sunset. The culture too is just as exotic as the city looks, and it’s found everywhere: in the rich food, the bright colors, the flamenco rhythms, the strong and distinct accent of the people. I’ve been here for two weeks and can finally say that some of the initial awe is wearing off, although I do still feel as though I’m walking on a movie set a good fraction of the time. I’m adjusting and settling in to the vibrant pulse of life here in southern Spain, blisters and all. It’s quite a lot to take in, and there’s much to get accustomed to (note to self: stop trying to shake hands when meeting new people at the bars), but there is even more to just accept and absolutely adore.
Friends who have been to Seville before warned me that this would happen. They loved it here, they told me I would love it here and madre mia were they ever right. I’m very much so looking forward to seeing what else this semester and beautiful city have in store for me. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.