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Saturday, February 16, 2013

One Month

February 16th: Exactly one month since I've arrived in Spain. It's hard to believe...time seems to have both flown and crept. I think back to how I felt when my plane landed in Sevilla, to my reactions at my first sight of the city and its countless orange trees, and my excitement for the coming semester. In just one month, I have already learned and changed more than I could have imagined. It was fitting that today I went out exploring alone, to the far north of Sevilla, to La Macarena.

Yes, its true. The song "The Macarena" came from two brothers from Sevilla, who named their hit after  la Virgen Macarena, an important figure in the neighborhood and in the Semana Santa celebration. I walked all the way there--3.5 km!--and encountered the mighty yellow Macarena gate that marked the entrance to the neighborhood. Beside it was a pretty yellow and white building with wrought iron gates. I decided to go inside, because, why not?

La Basilica de Macarena
Earlier today, my host mom had mentioned la Basilica de Macarena, but I didn't really know what is was or where it was. Turns out, I had just walked into it. My unsuspecting self was immediately overwhelmed by its beauty. La Basilica is the most gorgeous church I have ever been in. It isn't overwhelming like a lofty cathedral is; it is warm and inspiring. Magnificent murals of biblical scenes stretched out through the ceiling, while three intricate golden altars decorated three sides of the church. The centerpiece of the church was the grand altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who gazed out at the pews. I took a few pictures and then sat down to enjoy the artwork around me. And as I sat, while tourists milled around, taking photos and whispering to each other, I thought. I thought about God, about my life, about my purpose on Earth, about everything--for some reason this church inspired a wellspring of emotion within me.

Inside la Basilica

I wandered back home, through the tangled streets, past vegetable and meat markets and crowded bars, continuing to think. I can't say why this happened, or even what's different now...what I do know is that I am so incredibly grateful to be in Sevilla. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to explore and to learn. It's funny, I didn't really think that learning about myself would be one of the classes I take abroad (if you can forgive the horrid cliché). Anyway, it seemed appropriate that I have such a day of introspection on the anniversary of my arrival in Spain. If you are studying abroad and reading this, I urge you to take advantage of everything and keep your mind open--you never know what will surprise you next. I hope that I have many more wonderful experiences like this one!

Adios,
Shannon 


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