One of my best decisions while studying abroad in Seville was choosing to live with a host family when selecting my housing option. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to immerse myself as much as possible into the culture wherever I studied abroad. It would only enhance and fulfill my study abroad experience even more.
I chose to study abroad in Seville, Spain, where it’s always sunny and Sevillanos pretty much live outside! My housing arrangement ended up being in the center of Seville. My host family lives in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, which is only a five-minute walk to the CEA center and on the same street as the cathedral! I fell in love with the location as soon as I moved in. I would hear the church bells ringing and people chatting in the cafes on the street right below our apartment. When walking outside of my apartment, I felt like I was in a movie. I would walk past buildings filled with rich history every day. I embraced these little moments as much as I could, because I knew it wouldn't last forever. Not only was the location of my housing ideal, but my host family was amazing as well!
I lived with my roommate Zoe from Texas, host mother, host sister and a cute dalmatian! My favorite part of the day was sitting down for dinner with the family. It was exciting to try homemade Spanish dishes that were all new to me. We would converse in Spanish, which at the beginning of the semester seemed quite intimidating, especially trying to catch on to the Sevillan accent. Once we became comfortable with one another, my roommate and I were able to improve our Spanish way more than expected. We also got to experience some very “Sevillano” activities with them. Our host sister, Maca, took us to Feria, which is a big fair in Seville where everyone dresses up and has fun for a week! We also went snowboarding in Sierra Nevada and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean together. Without them, we couldn't have done these activities like a real Sevillano.
Living with a host family exceeded my expectations for my overall study abroad experience. I learned so much more Spanish, and more about the culture and customs than I thought I ever would. Most importantly, I created a lifetime bond with a family abroad that I can now call my second family.
Gabrielle Ciuteikis is the Spring 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Illinois at Chicago.