My experience as a gap year student in Seville

I’m Matthew Rowe, and I have just ended my semester abroad with Centro Mundolengua in Seville, Spain. I’m from Austin, Texas. I just graduated high school, and I’m taking a gap year before attending Georgetown University in the fall.

I decided to spend the fall of my gap year studying abroad in Seville because I wanted to improve my Spanish in an immersive environment and get to know Spanish culture better. I’ve previously studied abroad in Japan and so I can say with confidence that actually being in the country is the absolute best way to learn the language. I also know just how eye-opening it is to live in a new country, and I think my study abroad experiences have been the times that I have grown most as a person in my life.

Living with a Spanish host family in Seville

Leaving home for a new country, away from everyone and everything you know, is always a little bit scary. Four months ago I had never been to Spain and all I really knew about my new home for the next few months was a few names and addresses, and some vague visions of paella and bull-fighting. That changed quickly.

From the first moment that I was invited into their house, my host family have been the most welcoming people imaginable. There were no shortage of cultural differences and adjustments that I had to make. The constant support and encouragement from my host mother and host sister made the adjustment to life in Spain so much easier.

My Spanish host family, like most Spanish people I have met, is very talkative, and they were always excited to both show me all the wonderful aspects of their culture and learn about my culture as well.

Some of my fondest memories in Seville will always be the normal days, sitting and talking after lunch with my host family about anything from Spanish politics to sports, art to pets.

My Spanish has improved extraordinarily during my gap year experience in Spain, especially in terms of my speaking and understanding. I think a lot of that is down to the time my host family has been generous enough to spend talking with me.

Learning Spanish language and culture in Spain

Furthermore, the other people who have been crucial in making my stay in Seville exceptional have been everyone at Centro Mundolengua: all the teachers and staff we can reach out to with any problem, and of course the amazing friends I have made with every other student in the program.

Classes, both Spanish class and our History, Culture, and Gastronomy seminar, included in Centro Mundolengua Gap Year Program have been constantly informative and entertaining. I honestly looked forward to every class because I knew that I would have fun and learn interesting things that would improve my experience in Seville.

The History, Culture, and Gastronomy seminar in particular has been a fantastic way to get to know this amazing city, Seville. My favorite part about Seville is the unique and interesting culture and traditions, and I would never have been able to learn deeply about Semana Santa or Seville’s Golden Age in the 1500s without these classes. I have been able to really engage with Seville more than I have with almost any other city. This truly has been one of the most valuable parts of the experience. I can assure that with Centro Mundolengua and my host family I have been able to go beyond of just being a tourist and gotten to meet and know lots of Spanish people and some of the realities of living in Seville.

Travelling around Spain and neighbouring countries

Everything I have done during my gap year experience in Seville alone would’ve been worth it, but I have also taken advantage of Seville’s location and the great train system and cheap flights to travel around a lot. Andalusia is one of the most interesting places I have ever visited and I have really enjoyed exploring around the region. With friends from Centro Mundolengua I have visited Cadiz, Granada, and Cordoba, and I have explored some more places on my own as well. Moreover, the group activities and trips organized by Centro Mundolengua were also absolutely amazing.

Our first trip to Morocco was packed with amazing experiences. In just one weekend we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar on a ferry, visited multiple beautiful beaches, old cities and medinas, drove past beautiful mountains, and ate some great food. A few things I got to do in Morocco will stick with me forever: riding a camel, taking a sunrise swim in the Mediterranean with friends, and playing soccer on the beach with a group of Moroccan kids because, even though we didn’t have a language in common, sports can be an international language. Even in such an unfamiliar environment, the program made sure we all felt safe having a great time.

Our second trip to Lisbon was also great. With Cultural Coordinator from Centro Mundolengua, Antonio Cuaresma, guiding us, we saw some of the best of Lisbon which quickly became one of my favorite cities I have ever visited. I had some of the best seafood I have ever had, and I also loved trying Pasteles de Nata. Centro Mundolengua succeeds in making us like we were seeing cities in more depth than average tourists.

The Bottom Line

If you are considering doing any study abroad program, my advice by this point is probably obvious: DO IT!! And especially do it with Centro Mundolengua.

These past few months have been some of the best of my life. I will always be glad that I decide to enjoy a gap year experience in Spain, both for the memories and the things I have learned and ways I have grown. There will be challenges of course, studying abroad is not an easy thing to do, but the resources are there to help you overcome them and to ensure you have an amazing time. Make the most of it, and you will be so glad you did!

Gap year students in Seville

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