Yesterday, I returned from my week-long Spanish exchange trip to Seville, Spain – it was a long, tiring but ultimately enjoyable experience – and I’m here to give you the low-down on my experiences (plus share loads of photos I took!). Before we ~dive in~ to the good stuff, I wanted to share my primary thoughts.
forethoughts and other stuff
Before I left, my feelings about the trip wavered between extreme excitement and full-blown anxiety. On one hand, I had been looking forwards to this trip for ages: mostly since I didn’t get to go on the French exchange (it was understandably cancelled due to the situation in Paris/France in general) and the fact that the Year 11 Spanish exchange had something of a cult status at my school (spain! sun! boys!). So yeah, that part was exciting.
But then there was all the worries and thoughts of things that could go wrong. What if I forgot all my Spanish as soon as I got there? (which I kinda did to an extent lol) What if the airline goes to administration? (It only got bailed out like a couple of days before we were meant to leave lololol) What if I don’t know half the people on the trip? (So true). But in the end, I had to ditch those worries and go for it – after all, that’s the only way to live.
day 1, wednesday 12th
Wednesday was the day that I left for Spain, simultaneously filled with both anxiety and pure anticipation. I was determined to make the most of this trip, and make it an unforgettable experience. The good thing was that we didn’t have to be at the airport until 1.30pm, which meant I had time in the morning to double-check my suitcase about 10 times (gotta be prepared, right?). At around 12.30pm, we left for the airport (we only live 40 minutes away, but still). After a few anxious minutes trying to locate the rest of my group in departures, I said goodbye to my mum and began the first stage of my Spanish adventure.
If there’s one thing you didn’t know about me, it’s that airport security gives me major anxiety. Obviously, I get why it’s totally necessary and important – I just find it incredibly stress-inducing and chaotic. After I managed to make it through security, we had a little bit of time in duty-free – where my friend and I wandered around the shops, grabbed a Starbucks and then met up with some of her guy friends in Burger King. Another thing I hate (but also love) is meeting new people – but they were really nice, so it was chill.
Half and hour later, we started boarding the plane. Luckily I was sat on a row with two people that I liked (and not random members of the public), right by the window. For me, window seats have their advantages and their pitfalls – I mean, it’s good to have a bit of privacy, but seeing the plane tilt and wobble in 30,000 feet in the air can be a little unnerving. Anyway, about 3 and a half hours later, we landed in Málaga airport. Whilst it was good to finally be on the ground, I had gained a bad ‘aeroplane ear’ from the landing, which meant I could barely hear anything anyone was saying (*cue panic*). Since Málaga is quite a while away from Seville, we had to take another 3 hour long coach ride to Seville, in which I mostly slept and watched the Spanish skyline as whizzed past.
At around 11pm, we arrived at our partner school in Mairena del Aljarafe – sleepy, hungry and slightly smelly – to find our Spanish compañeros/as waiting on the street, loud and excited. We stumbled out onto the street below where we were united with our partners and whisked away one by one, off into the darkness. I met my exchange (Paula) and her family (FYI: kissing on the cheek is a big thing in Andalusia) – and soon enough, we were off to her house (coincidentally, I also forgot every Spanish word I knew). That night, I had a quick dinner with my eyes half open and tried on a flamenco dress before heading off to bed, preparing myself for everything that was to come.
day 2, thursday 13th
On Thursday, I woke up at 7.30am; it was pretty late for me considering I usually wake up at 5.30am – but still, I was slightly sleep-deprived from last night. After a breakfast of Nutella toast and chocolate milk (best breakfast ever???), Paula and I left for school in the car with her mum, auntie and two cousins. Once we arrived at the school (which kinda looked like a low-budget American high school but more Spanish-like), we were divided into our workshop groups: I, predictably, was in flamenco. Not only was I happy to do dancing, but also to speak ENGLISH (lol). Anyway, so we did flamenco in the gym for about an hour and half – it was really fun, but also really hard as you had to control both your steps and your *intricate spanish hand movements*. Plus, the year above all came into the gym like half way through, so I felt like I was under SO MUCH PRESSURE.
After the workshops, we had an Andalusian taster breakfast (tortillas y pan) made by the cooking workshop, and a slightly awkward break in the courtyard. Then, we made our first excursion to central Seville, where we took a boat trip along the Guadalquivir river. Although some of the views were nice, I spent most of the time socialising and getting to know everyone, which was actually pretty fun:
We also went to Parque María Luisa for lunch, visited the stunning Plaza de España and saw SO MANY horse-drawn carriages everywhere.
After that, we went on a trip to the aquarium. I was actually looking forwards to it (who doesn’t love fish?!) – but it was kinda disappointing, since we had to this boring workshop about freshwater/saltwater first, and then the tour was guided and took forever. After the aquarium, we went back to our exchange’s houses, which was quite daunting. However, we did go out quite early in the evening and meet up with some of Paula’s friends on the exchange, which meant I got to see some girls from school! First, we walked around the town centre of Mairena, and went to this cute balcony with some awesome views:
Later on, we went to the football pitch at the sports centre, where a lot of the boys were (predictably). We all hung out together for a couple of hours which was really nice, and we even took a squad photo (plus, we saw some players from Real Madrid walking past!!)
day 3, friday 14th
On Friday, we had a whole day trip to medieval/central Seville, which means I got SO MANY PHOTOS. Not to mention, it was also super interesting to see all the old Spanish buildings, especially as I kinda have a thing for European architecture. In the morning, we had an hour or so walking tour (god, I hate walking) of Barrio de Santa Cruz, which is totally cute and instagram-worthy:
We also visited the centre of Seville, where the famous shopping street Calle Sierpes is located (it also has 3 ZARAs in ONE PLACE), as well as the magnificent Metropal Sarasol at La Encarnición Square (literally such great views of Seville from 85ft high):
After that, we visited we visited the Seville Cathedral, which is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. It was literally SO GORGEOUS. Even the inside of the cathedral was impossibly ornate and gothic – not to mention, the beautiful artistry of every statue and model in the cathedral. But I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
After looking around the cathedral a bit, we climbed the 31 floors of La Giralda (the bell tower of the Cathedral) to get some great views of the city. Fun fact: instead of having stairs, the route to the top of the tower consists entirely of a circular slope. This is due the remains of Muslim architecture in Seville, as a muezzin (caller to prayer) would travel by horse up and down the tower to call worshippers to prayer 5 times a day.
After a bit of shopping time (I didn’t buy anything except a smoothie lol), we returned back to our exchanges’ houses. Later in the evening, we had a music and dancing concert to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the exchange between our school and the partner school in Seville. It featured two girls from my school, a few (slightly hilarious) performance from the boys (including a ‘heart-wrenching’ rendition of Jerusalem) and some really cool performances from the Spanish school, including some flamenco dancing and a flamenco percussion band. Since I can’t upload videos on WordPress (*cries*), here’s a selfie of Paula and I pre-concert.
After the concert, we headed off to Burger King in the shopping centre (literally EVERYONE else from their whole school was there – it was kinda crazy) – it was actually pretty lit since most of my friends were there as well. Then a whole bunch of us started wondering about the streets, visited an empty children’s playground, had bants (then inevitably got kicked out). Then we walked around a little more and decided to play a good game of ‘baloncesto’ (basketball) – however, the courts were locked up when we got there. Finally, we hung out on the side of a street in true Spanish style until midnight, having #purebants – it was probably the best night I had in Spain to be honest!
Want to find out more about my Spanish adventures? Check out ‘Adventures in Seville: Part 2’, coming *hopefully* very soon (mostly because this post is already over 1500 words long lol). I’ll also do a photo/slideshow post so you can see all my pics in one place!