Being in a new city always inspires me to become more like the locals there. When I visited New York for a week, I began jaywalking everywhere and ignoring all traffic signs. When I lived in Japan for a summer, my style became a lot more colorful, and I wore things I would have never worn in California. While in Mexico, I could haggle everything I bought down more than half the original price.
Similarly, Sevilla has sparked in me that same desire to fit in. So to help myself, I came up with a short list of things I do to become more Spanish, specifically Sevillan. If you want to feel more local, too, then help me help you.
1. First of all, never call Seville “Seville.” It’s pronounced Seh-vee-ya, I always contemptuously say as I correct my friends and family. Sevilla is the Spanish version of what Americans know as Seville. Not only is it more fun and authentic-sounding to say, but also you will automatically sound more Spanish.
|My roomie rocking a flowy blouse, dark denim jeans, and black booties, with a cross-body black leather bag. Instant Euro.
2. Pronounce all of your v’s into b’s. All vamos’s must be said like bah-mos. Southern Spaniards all speak this way. Go to Barcelona and they might not understand you, but that’s okay because you’ll be a faux-native Sevillan.
3. Use vale (remember, pronounced “bah-leh”) as a response for everything. It means okay in Spanish, and I put it at the end of sentences, in between lines of conversation to show that I understand (even when I don’t), and just by itself.
4. Leave the workout gear for the gym, and instead dress yourself up nice and classy while walking around! You can almost always point out the tourists in shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. There’s no need to go all out, but the nicer you look, the better. Ladies, it can be as easy as pairing flats with jeans and a blouse. Guys, ditch the tees and rock a button down shirt (buttoned to your neck!) with khakis and brogue boots.
5. Don’t make eye contact with people in public, impersonal areas, like riding the metro or walking down the street. If you’re from a big city like New York or San Francisco, you might relate to this, but typically in America, accidentally making eye contact isn’t a huge deal—just smile and look away. Here, eye contact can be flirtatious and get you unwanted attention so just don’t do it for your sake, por favor.
|Taken while on a walk home from class, and I decided to sit along the river and watch the sunset.
6. Lastly, relaaaax. America is all about time, efficiency, getting things done, and work. En Sevilla, people would be described as very—as a true Norcal like myself would say—“chill.” In America, if you show up late to meet someone that would be considered very rude, but here it’s quite common to be “late” because there is a different notion of time. It’s a very I’ll get there when I get there kind of mindset which is a reflection of their lifestyle. Obviously please go to class on time, but other than that, quit stressing out! Spend an hour or two eating dinner and chatting with friends, and once you’re done you can flag the waiter down. Taking food or coffee to-go is not a concept that is understood here anyways, so sit down and chill for a bit.
| Yes, I'm wearing flip-flops. I learned the
hard way, but having a blast!
So there you have it, six things you can do to bring out your inner Sevillan. Of course when you come and visit, you will have to let me know of any other tips that will help complete my Sevillan transformation!
Cynthia Hara is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain. She is currently a junior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
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