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A Window to the Past: My Connection to Seville

Seville is incredibly beautiful and bathed in a rich history stretching thousands of years, which made the decision to study here an easy one. In addition to the city's deep history, my main motivation was to discover a part of my past I didn't know much about. I always knew my family was Spanish, but I never had a real connection to that part of me. Growing up, I would always hear about Spain and I experienced small pieces of the culture that my family still held. I grew up eating tortilla de patatas and paella mixta, always hearing Spanish spoken around me. I was never really a part of the culture myself, it just happened to be there. The distance from my Spanish heritage was never really something I thought about, up until I was taking courses in Spanish at university and cursing my family for letting me grow up without a real grasp of the language or culture. I am doing much better now, but every struggle with Spanish makes me upset I don’t know more about my family’s origins.
 Here I can visit the Plaza de España and the adjacent Parque de Maria Luisa
where my great-great-grandparents, great-grandmother, grandfather, my father and his sisters used to visit.
 My grandfather in the same spot of the Plaza de España probably 65 years before me.
 Now I can visit the same places as my family before me.

This summer I visited Seville for the first time, along with my dad (he had not been to the city in probably 30 years). We went to the neighborhood where his great-grandparents lived and saw the places he remembered as a child. We ate at the freiduría where they used to buy adobo and croquetas in the summer time. Seeing him reconnect to his past made that part of my past feel more real.
 The freiduría my great-great-grandparents frequented in the Triana neighborhood of Seville. I went the other day just to get the abobo (fried fish marinated in vinegar and spices) and fish croquetas - I have to say they're definitely worth the trip from my apartment in El Centro.

We saw the apartment where my grandfather was born in the city center, which is now the well-known bookstore Casa del Libro. In my classes my professors have referenced the bookstore as a landmark quite often and it feels surreal to think that to people walking by it’s just a bookstore, but to me there is a deeper connection to my family’s past.
 The building my grandfather grew up in.

I have eaten at the well known tapas place Blanco Cerrillo on the corner next to that apartment and I just wonder if my great-grandmother ever ate there and enjoyed the tapas as I have.

Being here studying gives me the opportunity to explore my connections to Spain, to Seville, and to my family that I had never been able to explore before. Walking the same streets as my ancestors before me, learning about the history of their city and their country, making new memories here for myself – it really is an indescribable feeling.

Caitlin M. is the Spring 2017 MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Spanish & European Studies at Humboldt State University. 

Cover photo: My great-grandmother (right) in Seville

Caitlin McCollum-Martinez is the Spring 2017 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at Humboldt State.
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