Letter From Abroad: Carlos Melgar

by Carlos Melgar
Abroad

Greetings from Spain!

I am currently studying abroad in Seville, which is located in the south of Spain, about one hour from the beach and Morocco. I have been here for three weeks but it seems like I have been here longer. I am staying with a host family that consists of an elderly couple but no family members my age to take me out to well-known Spanish places.

Junior Carlos Melgar is studying abroad this term in Seville, Spain.

During my three weeks so far, I have visited the third-largest church in Europe after St. Peter’s at the Vatican and St. Paul’s in London. Santa Maria de la Sede was such an amazing sight to see. In 1401, a mosque made of brick was ripped down where the present-day church stands. The Reconquista Christians bragged that they were going to build a cathedral so huge that anyone who saw it would take them for “madmen.” It took 120 years to complete the church, which currently stands at 126 meters long, 82 meters wide and 30 meters high.

There is plenty to do here but not enough time. The days go by fast (probably because I stay up until the wee hours of the morning talking to everyone on Facebook), but in general, this is a typical Spanish day:

After going out for tapas, which are small appetizers, and a cerveza or sangria, we get up usually in the late afternoon. Breakfast consists of a couple of pieces of toast with a small coffee. Around 2 p.m. lunch is served and is the heaviest meal of the day. The majority of the stores close around 4 p.m. for a siesta, or a nap, and then open back up around 6 p.m. for a few more hours.

Dinner is later here than it is in the United States. It is generally served around 9 p.m. and consists of soup and some other entrée. After dinner, the family usually spends time talking about their day and enjoying each other’s presence.

A Spanish custom that took some getting used to was greeting people. When greeting someone new in the United States, we usually put out our hand and shake it firmly. Here in Spain, they do not do that. When greeting a woman, you kiss them on their cheeks starting with the right, then the left, then back to the right. When greeting a man for the first time, you give them a handshake, and say “Encantado” or “mucho gusto,” which means, “It’s a pleasure.” At first, this was hard getting used to, and when I went to put my hand out to shake a Spaniard’s hand, he or she just looked at me like I was weird and carried on with their business.

Every day is a new day here in Seville, making new friends and trying new food. I do not want this time to go by fast, so I am enjoying every single minute of it.

As they say in Spain,
¡Ciao!

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