According to the myth, the city was founded by the Greek demigod Hercules. The Tartessian Spal, the Roman Hispalis, and the Arabic Isbiliya from the nearly 800-year Muslim rule of Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia), the modern Sevilla, the gateway between the Old World and the New, has managed to keep traces of all the most important periods in its history.
It would be wrong of us to say that Seville is just about the past. Southern Spain’s capital is both European and cosmopolitan. It is an open-minded, tolerant society. It is always at the forefront from the cultural point of view. It sets trends, and is a city full of contrasts, a place where tradition and innovation walk hand in hand. It is probably the city of Spain where you will meet more poets per square mile.
The University of Seville combines the values of tradition with being an innovative institution of quality and excellence. It is a university as cutting edge and cosmopolitan as the city of Seville itself, and can boast a history of more than 500 years. And although SIGE is younger (Geranios, mother of SIGE, was founded in 1982), we take pride in our practice of a global, intercultural, responsible and innovative education.
Europe: Seville is a European, Spanish, Andalusian city. In the XVI century Seville was the most populated city in Europe. Nowadays, Paris or Rome is just two and a half hours away from Seville by plane.
Latin America: Seville, the gateway to the Americas, maintains a strong historic and sentimental connection with Latin America. El Archivo de Indias preserves the memories of our peoples.
The Arab World: In the past, al Andalus lived under Arab rule for almost 800 years. In addition to our common past, our closeness is physical: only 14.4 km of ocean separate Morocco and Spain.
In Seville, there is a perfect combination of a relaxation during the day, a lively nightlife, and a culturally rich history. And not to mention so much sunshine that you might end up missing the rain. You will not discover greater joy of living in any other city.
Sevilla represents one of the richest Spanish cities where its cultural heritage is concerned: it was a magnificent Roman city; the Visigothic and Arabic capital; the most populated city in Europe in the XVI century; the gateway to the Americas, etc. It is a cultural attraction, a literary, musical and artistic city par excellence. However, it is also a city full of social contrasts. It has an aristocratic past and today is the political-administrative headquarters of Andalucía. People from different parts of the world, diverse races and socioeconomic status can be seen here.
As you walk through the streets of Sevilla, one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world, you will be plunged into Spain’s wonderful culture edged with Moorish influences. Sevilla is surrounded by hills. An hour and a half away by car from the local Spanish beaches of Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol, and two hours and a quarter away from Madrid by train, it is easy to visit Sevilla and its neighboring cities and enjoy beautiful varied landscapes, all within reasonable distance.
The city was founded by the Greek demigod Hercules -according to the myth. The Tartessian Spal, the Roman Hispalis, the Arabic Isbiliya from the nearly-800-year Muslim rule of Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia), the modern Sevilla, the gateway between the Old World and the New, has managed to keep traces of all the most important periods in its history. Sevilla’s past, where Muslims, Christians, and Jewish people lived side by side, can still be felt today through the city’s architecture, streets, aromas, food, music, and culture. It is a place full of history, culture, pride and tradition.
However, it would be wrong of us to say that Seville is just about the past. Southern Spain’s capital is both European and cosmopolitan. It is an open-minded, tolerant society. It is always at the forefront from the cultural point of view. It sets trends, and is a city full of contrasts, a place where tradition and innovation walk hand in hand.
There is so much to do, so much to see, and so much to learn about in this unique place. You can enjoy a café con leche, (a flat white) sitting outside at one of the many bars, watching the world go by. You can walk around the Alcázar gardens taking in the sights of this Islamic Palace where the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, later lived during their reign; or you can visit one of the many Flamenco clubs any night of the week. In Sevilla, there is a perfect combination of a relaxed feel about it during the day, a lively nightlife, and a culturally rich history.
Seville offers a multitude of Sports and Recreations opportunities, a few of which include:
Our aim at SIGE, through continual dialogue and encounters with people of different cultures, beliefs and ideologies, is to provide the possibility and means for cultural and intercultural understanding. Our programs ensure personalized attention every step of the way. We strive to make your stay abroad a wonderful, unique and enriching experience you will remember for the rest of your life.
It was January 10th, 2013 at 6:15 am. I had just said my final goodbyes to my mom and headed through security at LAX airport. I couldn’t believe it- I had done it. I had said all my goodbyes, only slightly overpacked, and I couldn’t turn back– I was leaving for my semester in Sevilla, Spain.
I met up with Lily, another girl from my university and on my program at the JFK airport. We nervously sipped coffee while we talked about what was ahead of us. We were both pretty unprepared, no idea what could really be waiting for us on the other side of that 10 hour flight.
Getting to Sevilla was a long trip, but the second I stepped out of the airport and into the cool, orange scented air I was recharged. Even though I was there, physically there, no doubt about it, I still couldn’t believe it. I had let go of what I knew at home in exchange for this completely new and foreign experience. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited or terrified for my adventure to begin.
Meeting my host family didn’t exactly pop my bubble of disbelief. My host mother, Juani, was amazing from the second I stepped in the door. My room was waiting for me, lunch was served, and Juani was already treating me like one of her children- “No, you need to eat more, I am worried about you, you’ve been traveling. At least eat a yogurt? Some fruit? Please?” I was amazed at my luck, within a week I was already integrated into the home and family life.
The reality of it all finally set in the first night some of the girls from the program decided to go out and explore. We found a bar, later we realized it was one of the most expensive we could have found, sat on the terrace, ordered a Sevillan beer and talked about how we had made it, what it would be like, and our goals. It is one of my favorite memories of my semester—the night before it all started.
Orientation started, class from 10am to 1pm everyday, brushing up on our grammar and conversation skills, learning about Spanish culture and history, and getting to know each other. That first month went flying. We went on excursions to explore Andalucía and became more integrated every day. Finally, our university classes started. Our classes were interesting and fun, and most importantly, applicable to our Spanish lives. As a Political Studies student, I had often found that while my classes at my home university were engaging and enriching, it was seldom that what I learned was applied directly to my real life. Yet in Sevilla, my Anthropology of Andalucía class taught me about the history of what was around me, and my cooking and literature class helped me connect the food with the culture and history of the city. It was an amazing and almost unexpected interdisciplinary learning experience.
Though don’t let me fool you- my life was not dedicated completely to academics. I was living in one of the most beautiful cities I had ever seen, I was committed to exploring and meeting new people. My luck came when Lily, from the program, asked me if I wanted to go out to watch a fútbol game with her and her host brother, Nacho. We went and had a fun time, exchanged Facebook info, and hoped we would go out again. Soon after, we were invited to go out with Nacho and his friends. That was all the connection we needed. One night out and we finally had Sevillan friends! Girls that invited us to go shopping with us, guys who wanted help practicing their English, generally amazing people that invited us into their social lives.
I am currently living in Madrid for the summer, one semester in Spain wasn’t enough for me. As I look back on my experience, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities I had in Sevilla. My academic life was challenging yet fun, the city and my host home had been warm and welcoming environments, I had made lasting friendships with Spaniards, and I was completely and undeniably in love with Spain. Yet what I gained from my semester in Sevilla goes beyond new friendships and better Spanish. For me it was a crucial moment in my life in which I had to grow up, be responsible yet completely let go and dive in. I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to go back…
Here you will find an interview with one of our host families to give you an idea of what you can expect from the host family environment. This family hosted Lily, an American student, for a four month long semester.
SIGE: Hello! Thank you for talking to us today. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself? And where you live?
Lourdes: No problem. Well, my name is Lourdes. I live here in Nervión, a great neighborhood here in Sevilla. I live in my apartment with my son and my nephew. I have a daughter that lives in Huelva that comes to visit a lot. As far as this area, I think it’s a great area for young people. We are close to Nervión Shopping Plaza, three minutes from a metro, train, and city tram station, and about 20 minutes away from the old city center. Lily could get to the university in about 20 minutes.
SIGE: Nervión really is a great area. Let’s talk a little more about Lily, can you tell me what it was like before she came? And how you prepared?
Lourdes: Well, we were all very nervous. We knew we were getting an American girl, but we didn’t know much else. They did tell us that she was allergic to gluten and a vegetarian, which was even more nerve wracking. But before she got here I went online and researched gluten allergies and talked to a few of my friends that were more familiar with it. I was able to plan a menu for the first weeks so I could keep organized and respect her dietary needs. Thankfully I got the hang of it quickly and it was no problem at all.
SIGE: Can you talk a little about changes you might have seen in Lily during her stay with you?
Lourdes: Yes, absolutely. Lily really did change while she was here. First and foremost, her Spanish changed drastically. She had a hard time at first, especially with my son and nephew, Andres and Nacho. We all have Andalucian accents and Andres and Nacho speak like young people which is always a little different. But by the time she left, it was completely different! She could understand and interact with us in such a natural way. And I guess most importantly, the change we all saw and enjoyed the most, it the way she really became part of the family. We really love Lily, she was a daughter and a sister. It’s hard to think about her now because there really is something missing in this house without her.
SIGE: It’s so nice to know that you connected so well. That’s the experience we really want for all our students. Can you tell me more about what you gained from this experience? Of having an American student in your house?
Lourdes: You gain so much- it’s a whole new person in your family that brings a new excitement and energy. Like I said, I really felt like she was another daughter for me. I guess beyond that, we really benefited from the cultural exchange. We learned a lot about her culture and her life at home.
SIGE: Is there anything else you want to add?
Lourdes: Having a student was such an interesting experience for my family, from the nerves at the beginning to the sadness when she left. Lily will always have a place in our home and our hearts. But we are looking forward to meeting our next student!
Andrés is Lourdes’s son, he is 18 years old, and a baccalaureate student.
SIGE: Andrés, can you tell us about the experience of having an American student live with you?
Andrés: Well, it was nothing like we expected. I guess because we really had no idea what to expect. Lily was the first American I have ever met. It was great- I learned so much about American culture. Everything I knew before had come from movies and TV, Lily showed me a whole new side that I could have never known on my own. And I think she really learned a lot about Spanish culture by being here. Nacho and I would take her out with our friends and she got to see what life is like for us here in Sevilla.
SIGE: How was your relationship with Lily? How is it now that she is gone?
Andrés: Lily is like the sister I always wanted. We talked a lot and shared ideas in a way that benefited us both. Her friends always called her the “Princess of the Family” because we loved her so much. Now that she left for the United States, we still keep in touch. We send messages back and forth and I am already trying to convince her to come back to Sevilla soon!
Nacho is Lourdes’s nephew. He is studying tourism at the University of Sevilla.
SIGE: Nacho, thank you for talking to us, can you tell me a little bit about the cultural interchange between you and Lily?
Nacho: Of course. Well, Lily is from San Francisco, a city I have always wanted to visit, so she told me a lot about her life there. She also taught our family a lot about her Jewish culture, she even made matza ball soup for us all one night! Being with Lily changed our perspective of Americans, which has mostly been influenced by movies and tv. And she learned a lot by being with us. She got to truly live the Spanish culture in our home. Our house is always full of visiting friends and family, with everyone sharing stories and eating. Her Spanish was so much better when she left and I believe she took advantage of the opportunity to explore and get to know the city.
SIGE: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Nacho: Well, having a student was a great experience for us all. We learned a lot and loved teaching Lily things about our culture. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I really loved the experience of bringing a new culture into our home and getting to share the Spanish lifestyle. I know she left with a solid understanding of the Spanish identity, we aren’t just naps and bull fighting- by her last day, she was practically Spanish herself.