It was time to move. I mean, everything was fine with my university, with Padua, with Italy, with my friends. But sometimes you feel that something is missing.
I missed Europe. Of course there was news about the European Union on TV and politicians gave big speeches on European citizenship, editorials on the role of the EU in Italy’s economy. We knew that Brussels offered us economical agreements, but aside from that, what does the average Italian student know about Europe? Europe is missing in their fixed paths: doing exams, getting a bachelor and then looking for a job (preferably nearby home). This was not enough for me. I had to take my chance.
I landed in Seville, southern Spain, full of expectations. One has to have big expectations when he is 23 years old, no? And I was going to have the best trip of my life, a trip with the Erasmus space shuttle.
A shuttle that offers you the possibility to get lost. Getting lost geographically and getting lost mentally. To rethink the goals you have set for your life, what you think is important, to open your mind. Briefly: the best way to grow up.
The first words I learned in Andalusia were corridor, apartment, rent, classroom and of course beer. Beer is the bond between students all over the world, it makes you feel at ease and friendly with mates. And beer was cheap in Spain, so we did a lot of bonding.
I walked a lot the first days through lovely Seville. The weather is great and the city centre is not too big to walk through. But still big enough to allow you some ‘breaks’ to devour a tapa (A tapa is a tiny dish, a little snack), a beer and send a text message to your jealous friends at home. Especially those who live in the northern part of Europe: “Hey, it’s October and I’m still wearing a T-shirt!”
Walking through Seville there are some ‘must-have-seen’ locations: the cathedral, built on a mosque (peculiar architectural mix!) and La Giralda, the tower, originally a minaret. Then visit the Alcazar (the old Moorish palace) and its wonderful gardens. Have a walk along the river Guadalquivir and stop by La Torre del Oro, built by the Almohad dynasty as watchtower. Have a relaxing terrace at Plaza de España.
The best parts of being an Erasmus student are not those things a local tourist office can inform you about. I mean, I loved, for example, the sun. It was like being closer to the sun in Seville than in northern Italy. The light is brighter, and this lives up your whole day, even when you are walking in a hurry to the bus stop. That is probably the reason why a lot of people stay outside, por la calle (by the street), walking from bar to bar, having tapas. They even have a word for it! Tapear, which means hanging out and getting tapas in different bars. I just loved this way of life. Being Italian, it’s in my genes to have special attention to food. And we know food is not only nutritional, it also nourishes your soul.
Here is some insider information: have a walk in calle Sierpes, it is full of shops, ideal for getting hungry. Then start your tapear with a montadito (little sandwich) at El patio San Eloy (in calle San Eloy). Don’t forget to ask for a Cruzcampo beer, of course. Then walk to Plaza Cristo de Burgos and look for El Coloniales. I would kill right now for a solomillo al roquefort (fillet with melted roquefort cheese on), have another Cruzcampo while waiting for a seat and a Tinto de Verano (wine with ice and orange juice) before leaving. This embeds for me everything about enjoying life. To make your evening perfect you have to see the flamenco show at La Carbonería (calle Levies). But, since you are not in a hurry, on the way to La Carbonería, stop at bar Levies. Look for something you don’t know on the huge list and get it. That is THE way to discover Seville.
La Carbonería is always crowded, even during the winter, but the fireplace and the gipsy piano player will warm you up in no time. The atmosphere and a good glass of rioja wine (from rioja region, northern Spain) will provide the rest.
In La Carboneíia you might end up talking with other young Europeans. Being on Erasmus in Seville is a guarantee for having a good time, but it is also a great opportunity to talk about the German welfare system, Belgian federalism, the Spanish scholar system, the Czech economy, or whatsoever. Because, hey, you are Erasmus, you are not supposed to hang out with people from your country!
On the way back stop in Plaza Alfalfa for a chupito (shot). The little street is still packed, but don’t worry, get in a chupito-bar and try a ron miel (honey rum, so sweet!) or be brave and suck dry (with a straw) a chupito de fuego (blazing shot), trying not to burn yourself.
Since you have a lecture tomorrow, you’d better go home. Be careful not to wake up your French (or Finnish, or Slovenian, or English…) room mate once at home, right? You have enjoyed Europe enough for today. Wasn’t it a great idea to take your chance to discover Europe?