Seville is a beautiful city. From the grandeur of the Plaza de España to the breathtaking views from Las Setas, it boasts countless Instagram-worthy places. But the best memories of my semester haven’t been in any of these spots. They’ve been under harsh fluorescent lights, gathered around plates of patatas bravas on sticky metal tables at the bar downstairs with my little friend group. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
La Prensa has a sort of modest charm. It’s not the prettiest to look at, but it’s always packed with locals, so you know they’re doing something right. The first time the five of us sat down there, we were practically strangers: wide-eyed, taking in the thrill of moving to another country for a semester, full of orientation-week jitters. We marveled at how cheap everything on the menu was and fumbled to order in Spanish before the patient waiter.
As the days passed and we learned how to navigate the city, balance our classes, live with our host families and understand the Andalusian accent, we found ourselves reconvening at La Prensa again and again. Sharing tapas and swapping stories together in the plastic chairs became our nighttime ritual.
One of the cool things I’ve learned about in Seville is the emphasis on relationships between local businesses and their regulars. My host mom always tells me about how the mercados she’s frequented for years will do her special favors and set aside the good produce for her. She has that kind of close relationship with the owners of La Prensa, too.
So I was thrilled when, about halfway through the semester, the waiters at La Prensa started to show us a little special treatment. Once, we were short on cash, and they told us not to worry about it. One of them knows us by name, and we’ve started to have friendly conversations with him when we visit. He puts out little plates of olives for us—something we’ve noticed they only do for locals.
Exploring Seville has been wonderful, but sometimes it makes my head spin. All my years of Spanish couldn’t have prepared me for the confusing accent, the culture shock or the feeling of loneliness that comes with suddenly moving away from everyone you know for a few months. That’s what makes La Prensa so great: to me, even though I’m thousands of miles away, the bar downstairs feels like home.
It’s a place where I feel known, both by my friends and by the people who work there. There’s a special comfort in knowing there’s somewhere I can go that’s familiar and comfortable, no matter how out-of-place I’ve felt during the day’s adventures.
If you’re studying abroad, try finding your own Prensa, whether it’s a bar, coffee shop or restaurant. Going a couple of times a week, leaving a few cents as a tip once in a while and striking up a conversation can go a long way. It might just become your home away from home.
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