The city on the cliff and city has the first bullring in Spain. These two descriptions would be the best fit for Ronda. Sadly, Visiting Ronda was our last cultural visit from the Study Abroad Program at ICS. It took about two hours to get Ronda from Sevilla. We met up by the main street and got on a charter bus that ICS prepared.
When we got off the bus, there was a tour guide was waiting for us at the bus station. Our tour started in the old town of Ronda. We visited the bullring, church, main bridge, and different viewpoints of Ronda. We had for about two hours of free time to look around the city. Some of us had lunch at a restaurant by a cliff. The view was absolutely gorgeous I don’t know how many pictures I took.
I think a full-day trip was enough for Ronda unless anyone is interested in hiking or seeing a night view of the city.
I have a quite of traveling experiences in general, but I haven’t been to the continent of Africa yet. That’s why going to Morocco with ICS was extra special for me. I always wondered how it would be like to visit Africa because it’s just unknown side to me. I don’t have much knowledge of Africa. Even though Morocco was a bit different from Africa we see on TV, it was a good breaking the ice moment to me to understand people and culture there.
I was so glad that traveling Morocco was a part of the excursions from ICS because I think it’s one of the areas that you should go with people who know about that area. Otherwise, I would’ve just stayed at a touristy area and don’t know what to do or what not to do. It’s not impossible to go by myself but would’ve been much harder to do without help.
Our trip was visiting three different cities of Morocco. It was nicely organized and I obviously wish we had more time, but I guess it’s what it is. Now I know how it is like to be over there and what my expectation should be. That’s a good lesson from this trip I would say.
Our journey started with crossing the chancel with a ferry ride. It took about an hour and again the weather was amazing. After passing the Moroccan and Spanish border safely and smoothly, first thing we did was a camel ride. It was my first experience to be on a camel, so I was a little nervous.
After the camel ride, we went to the meeting point of Mediterranean Sea and The Atlantic. There was a lighthouse that guides boats that they’re entering or existing from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic or vice versa.
On the second day, we visited a town covered with blue. It was like Santorini, A Greek Town, We had a town tour with an old Moroccan gentleman. He wanted to show us around the town and emphasized that he was showing us the town because he thought communication is really important. He doesn’t want us to have wrong idea of Moroccan culture and have misled ideas and stereotypes about Morocco.
For the dinner, we had high quality Moroccan dish with show, which was the highlight of the trip I would say. At the end of the dinner, everyone gathered together and danced. It was a such good time now I look back.
On the third way, we visited a Jewish quarter in a city and a market. Then, we came back to Sevilla.
Group shot 1 with camels
Group shot with American & Moroccan flag at the blue town
I would like to say visiting Granada was one of the best parts of the study abroad program in Spain. I’m not quite sure about living in Granada but visiting it was amazing. I’m so glad that now I have been to Granada and know about it and will think about it. Touring inside of Alhambra was so beautiful but Alhambra looks a lot better seeing it from San Nicholas, especially, at night, with the lights. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous. The small shops near San Nicolas were selling variety of accessories, bags, and clothes. I was attempted to buy some but my bag pack was packed didn’t have enough room.
I personally stayed two more nights in Granda. In second night, there was a Granada CF’s game with Atletico Madrid. I and two other guys, Anthony and Cal, who stayed one more night, went to the game.
San Miguel was another view point that I could see the amazing view of Alhambra and the city of Granada. It was a little bit of hike but it was totally worth it. I would totally recommend that view point for those who are planning to go to Granada.
The trips that I have been to with ICS have been so easy in terms of preparation because ICS organizes everything for us. I hope ICS still takes students to Granda in the future. It’s one of the cities that should be seen by more people. No wonder Granda was the last city that the Arabs gave up.
Next cultural visit that I’d like to post is Cordoba. It was a full-day trip. We traveled with a chartered bus ICS prepared. Cordoba has one of the biggest mosque and a cathedral inside of it. It is absolutely gorgeous to see the building and the details. Also, the fact that one building has more than two different religion’s styles makes it more special with the size of it. The idea that there was time that more than two religious peacefully existed made me feel a little excited to visit the city. The cathedral inside the mosque is a cross shape.
We also visited Jewish quarter and part of the castle. After visiting places according to the plans that ICS prepared, we had free time for a couple of hours.
Inside of the mosque. Beautiful arches and the size was enormous
Inside of the mosque & church
The cathedral part
the mosque from the Jewish quarter
Touching the foot of the statue will make you smart!
After having the great Welcome Week, cultural visit to Italica was the field trip that ICS planned for us. Italica was a half-day trip, which was just enough amount of time to visit the area. Judy explained a lot about Italica and the mosaic. Italica is basically amphitheater shown in a movie like Gladiator. I wish I remember everything Judy said but the whole point is that Italica still exists with great history. Also, visiting historical places are always better with stories about those places. Italica was one of the places like that. The pictures below are from Italica and the entrance of the restaurant that we visited after the trip. The pork was as tender as beef and some of our guys are going back there just for the food. I hope the pictures help deliver how it feels like.
The second half of the welcome week begins with the visit to the beautiful Parque de Maria Luisa and picnic on Sunday morning. With Judy’s explanations and stories of buildings in the park and park itself, I was fascinated by not only the buildings but also the stories. The buildings in the park are absolutely gorgeous. Luckily, the host family I stay at is only a couple of minutes away from the park. Actually, ICS is also only 5 minutes away from the park. Therefore, some of the friends from ICS go visit the park after classes or weekends. I particularly pass the park when I go to the city center. It’s one of the places that you never get tired of seeing.
After the tour, we had a small picnic. We firstly sat down and had lunch because it was about the lunch time. Then, we played with a football, soccer ball, and badminton that Lisa brought for us. I think everyone had a great time at the picnic because we still didn’t know each other well since it was still the first week. Throughout the picnic, we got to know each other more through conversations and playing with the balls and badminton.
At Monday night, we took a guided night walk through downtown Sevilla and learn of different tales and legends. I, unfortunately, forgot the guy who guided us. He told us so much about the city of Sevilla and the building with stories. The city looked different after hearing about the stories of it. The most memorable one is the names on the walls of the cathedral. Spanish didn’t find out names on the until recently. It turned out to be those names are from the students with outstanding grades when they graduated.
Finally, the highlight of the welcome week happened at Thursday Evening. The boat ride down the Guadalquivir River was the one. We already knew the night view of the river was amazing from walking along the river at the other night. Boat ride made the city look even more beautiful. Also, it was fun to be on the boat with music and some snacks. We took pictures of each other and the landmarks with the lights.
After the registration and orientation in the morning, there was a reception that ICS prepared for all the students, professors, and faculty members at a tapas place nearby the school. Because all the students for Spring 17 semester just arrived in Sevilla a night or two before, I didn’t know everyone in the program. Throughout, I got to see who I was going to see during the semester. Also, being able to communicate with the faculty members and professors made me feel more relax and comfortable about the school since it was the day one, and I didn’t know what to expect from the school.
In next day morning, Friday morning, we walked through downtown to see some of the most historic sites. I was so excited to see downtown Seville because I heard about the amazing cathedral and Alcazar from friends back in Korea and Hawaii. Downtown Seville was absolutely amazing. Because there are plans to visit the Alcazar and the Cathedral, we didn’t go inside at this visit instead we had a sample of Desayuno Andaluz at Le XIX. I meant to go back to the place even though it hasn’t happened yet. This was pretty much what we did for the morning and had free time until next activity, belly dancing show at a tea place.
At the evening we met up at a place in the downtown area and walked to a tea place called “Teteria Bagdad” to experience an Arab Haven filled with exotic teas and belly dancing. While waiting for the dancer, we got to drink two different types of tea. I forgot what it was exactly called and from, but one was from Kazakhstan and the other was from Turkey I believe. I’ve had different types of teas before, but they were different. I think it’s something like different types of coffee tastes different depending on how a barista drops coffee.
As soon as the dancer walked out of the changing room, music was changed, and she started to dance. It absolutely was amazing. She danced three songs with different items like castanets, scarf, or just bare hands. In the middle of dance, she made some of us join the dance as making eye contacts with them. The atmosphere of the tea place and the dancers dress and make-up style made her dance more wonderful.
The first day went by pretty fast. I met up with University of Hawaii students and some students from other states who are going to International College of Seville. We wandered around the neighborhood and discovered it as much as possible. It was really cozy and neat. Everything is close to each other. There are so many hidden tapas places and bars that look good. Also, some of us signed up for a gym membership. Later that day, my roommate Keao arrived at the house. Because Keao speaks an intermediate level of Spanish, he helped me out with things that I wanted to talk to the host family.
I was going to talk about activities that we did for the first week but I’m not even sure if I will be able to cover everything because we did so many things that ICS prepared for us. In one of our meetings at University of Hawaii, it was mentioned that ICS arranges activities like city tours for students to buffer culture shocking. Now I looked back at the first week, it went really smoothly without thinking about being alone or bored. I’m already used to living in the neighborhood and already know where to go to catch the bus, buy things, eat tapas.
Because I arrived at late night at my host house, my host family and I just exchanged names briefly. Because my Spanish is very limited, I needed to hold my phone to use Google Translator during the entire conversation, but I knew they were welcoming me for sure, and my job for next 4 months is to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with the host family and people in Spain. I also believe that it’s not fair for me to expect Spanish people to speak English because I’m a visitor not they are. Furthermore, the given situation with the language barrier in the host family will push me harder to learn Spanish.
In the next day, because I arrived one day before the official arriving day, I had a lot of free time to look around the neighborhood. The neighborhood is called Porvenir. It felt somewhat different from France, Germany, and the UK. There’s a funny story about when I was leaving the house. I’m not sure if other houses are same, but to leave the house, I had to use a key to open the door from inside. A little technique was required to open but obviously, I was not used to it, I was “stuck” inside of the house for 10 minutes and people passing by the house looked at me like an idiot. I felt like they looked at me saying “How did you get in? you idiot”. The problem was solved when the host mom came back home. I would’ve been stuck in the house longer if the timing was not right.
On day two, there was an orientation. During the orientation, Gina, Lisa, and Ignacio talked about academic plans, insurance, manners at the host house, excursions, and activities that the students will have next four months. After the orientation maybe because the orientation was taking place in between breakfast and lunch, ICS prepared some snacks and drinks.
I’ll continue with the excursions that we did in next posting.