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April Internships - Life in Seville Part 2

Katey works as a research assistant at Donana Biological Station

Photo curtesy of Katey: Flamingos at Donana Nation Park

'It’s honestly been an amazing start to my trip in Seville. I love waking up to the beautiful weather every morning and having days to explore the new culture, food, music, wildlife and amazing landmarks around the city.

I am currently working at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD), the Biological Station within Seville. I am a research assistant looking at the invertebrate activity that enhances greenhouse gas emission and in addition, the implications flamingos and other birds are also having on greenhouse gas emissions. These first few weeks have involved field work in the wetlands of several areas of Doñana National Park and a small amount of lab work within the Biological Station. It is incredible being a part of this exciting project and contributing to research which puts flamingos in the spotlight. While, currently around the world, the Extinction Rebellion and Climate Change marches are taking place, it’s great to see other contributions to climate change through the research I am performing. As a Zoology graduate, I am really interested in the amazing wildlife within Doñana National Park, even within the city centre of Seville, so it really takes my breath away to see a variety of spectacular species up close. In the field I have already seen flamingos, ‘Retuerta’ horses, boar piglets, calves and cattle, red deer, lizards, birds of prey and many other birds such as stalks, ibis and the beautiful Bee-eaters.

I have taken every opportunity to experience as much as I can here in Spain. A small group of us went sightseeing in Córdoba and we’ve been sunbathing (+ free walking tour) in Cadiz. While in Seville, we’ve visited the amazing Plaza de España, Metropol Parasol (The Mushroom), Italica – Roman Ruins, CAAC museum (art and music gigs!), including other small music gigs and bars around the Alameda. I have also been to a Flamenco show in Triana, as well as helping at the local farmers market. As an Erasmus group, we get on so well that we’ve had picnics, tapas, played sport and created an art class together, which makes the experience even more enjoyable! It was also great to experience Semana Santa (the Easter Holy week) and this week is Feria (Seville’s April Fair) so we’re all very excited to get dressed up too.

At first, it was quite overwhelming living in a country where you don’t speak the native language, however I love learning Spanish and the people are so friendly. Seville is such a sociable and vibrant city and there’s always something going on, which I love! I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity to live abroad and I can’t wait to enjoy the next 2 months.'

Tavia works at Colegio Britanico de Sevilla

Photo curtesy of Tavia: 3 interns in Seville

'I work as a year 3 teaching assistant at Colegio Britanico de Sevilla. My colleagues and our pupils all have unique personalities; each day is exhilaratingly different because of them. The main challenge of my work is consistently engaging our class, who have a range of needs and short attention spans. However, the children all have their individual talents and it is heartening to help support them and build rapport. This particular role takes more focus and energy than I expected it to – after the first week I was exhausted – but the reward is also greater than anticipated.

Our Erasmus+ team is quickly becoming like family. From the first day at training in Brighton and through navigating daily life in Sevilla, the people on this program have been the most important part of my best encounters so far. In my free time, I like to catch up with them; we toma una copa in the Alameda or explore an Andalucían city on a day trip. I also enjoy experiencing the music and art of Sevilla; flamenco, live bands and visual exhibitions at CAAC have been among the highlights. At the end of a busy weekend, there is nothing I like more than to come home and sit on the balcony to watch the remaining sun settle from a stunning red sunset into the warm night.

Adjusting to life in Sevilla has been a cornucopia of extremes. I’ve questioned myself, felt lonely and I’ve missed home. However, I’ve also laughed until it hurts, lost myself on the dance floor and felt moments of complete freedom. Now, one month in, I’m finding balance and relaxing into this new rhythm of life.'

Photo curtesy of Tavia: Water Fountain Seville

Cristina works at Co-operacion Internacional

Photo curtesy of Cristina: Seville Interns

'My role here is twofold: with my colleague Penny I work in a foodbank and give English after-school support classes in a secondary school in the East of Seville. The foodbank is completely volunteer-run which makes for a wholesome and jovial atmosphere. The work is often physical and people-facing which I enjoy and the operation is smoothly run by Esperanza (‘hope’ in Spanish), a glamorous Sevillian matriarch who tries to provides food, clothes and prayers to anyone who happens to turn at our door. Individuals with referrals from social services come to the foodbank to collect food parcels made up of local supermarket donations and EU food distribution programs. It has felt great to be welcomed into such a genuinely local space and to feel part of a redistributive project. My colleague and I have taken over the clothes donation rails, making them more accessible to people whilst doing our fair share of recycling! Working in the school has been more challenging than anticipated as the students we work with have varying levels of knowledge, engagement and interests. We are slowly building relationships with them and finding engaging activities which build their vocabulary, grammar and speaking skills.

Seville is a bustling cultural city bursting with food, music, art, dance and energy. I have been slowly discovering new and inspiring spaces in the city as well as attending events like a music festival at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo or the Festival de Alternativas at the Alamillo park, where free workshops and talks took place over a whole weekend. I have been dipping my feet into the poetry scene here and cycling around the city with a second hand bike. Spanish is my mother tongue so it’s really fun to be able to speak to local people who are fooled by my ‘guiri’ appearance and to support my new friends in finding their way around the Spanish language.

Moving to a new city always takes some adjusting, even if you speak the local language! I feel really grateful for the group of people I have met through this programme. From starting a weekly art club, to people sharing their enthusiasm for music, dance and cycling, I feel I am learning a lot from my peers not just my placement. Settling into the routine of the placement has helped me settle here along with getting a Sevici subscription and finding the local vegetable shop and bakery. Locals have been infinitely welcoming and the slow, street life of the Seville easy to embrace. As temperatures rise here I just need to make sure I don’t forget to put sunscreen on – crab stick is not a good look.'

Photo curtesy of Anna: Interns Seville

Kate works at Ecologistas en Accion

Photo curtesy of Sophie: Allotment site of Ecologistas en Accion

'None of the days have been the same at Ecologistas! Usually we do some maintenance on the allotments such as weeding, watering and planting. We sometimes visit other allotments around the city for adult courses that my host, Susana, delivers. We usually have at least one school workshop per day where we teach kids from the local schools about things such as beneficial vs damaging insects, how to plant seeds and treat plant diseases. Last weekend I worked helping out at the monthly market that they host to raise funds for Ecologistas which was a great event with people selling artisan breads, cheeses and honey. My host only speaks Spanish so whilst working I am improving my Spanish alot and my vocabulary for all things related to vegetables and garden tools!

In my free time I have been exploring the city and the many cultural activities it has to offer. There is lots of live music, festivals and relaxed bars to enjoy. Last weekend there was a free festival in a park nearby where there was yoga, music and dancing and we were able to meet local people and learn more about the city. I have seen 2 flamenco shows which have both been brilliant and have also taken a trip to Cádiz. I have been trying lots of great Spanish food and wine as well.

I have settled into life in Seville really easily. The first week we arrived was a little crazy as there was Semana Santa, their holy week. During this week there were lots of religious processions through the streets which were interesting to see. After that things settled down and work properly started and I got into a routine. I am really enjoying the Spanish way of life - work in the mornings, siestas and then relaxed long evenings. Now there is another festival called Feria which the whole city is excited about.'

Sam works at Donana Biological Station in Seville

Photo curtesy of Sam: Collecting and marking tortoises in Doñana National Park. This was a young one at around 3 years of age.

'My first three weeks in Sevilla have been both interesting and exciting. Adapting to life in Sevilla has been fun and relatively painless. There is generally, from my experience, a very relaxed attitude here and the people are normally pretty friendly and helpful.

I work at the Doñana Biological Station which is 15 minutes from where I live by bicycle. Work is so far both interesting and engaging. I mostly spend time in the laboratory helping out with particular tasks, but I have also had the opportunity to spend two days in Doñana National Park. This has included helping search for tortoises and marking them as part of a long-term scientific study as well as a day setting up sediment guards as part of a flamingo study. This mixture of tasks and activities has made my time at the Biological Station very enjoyable.

Making the most of my spare time in Sevilla is not difficult, Sevilla is an extremely lively city with lots going on and plenty of nightlife. Likewise, Sevilla is a very beautiful city with a great culture and plenty of interesting architecture to admire. The Sevici bicycle service available for €33 has been particularly useful in allowing me to access areas of the city that would otherwise be too far to get to on foot whilst also cutting down on travelling time. During our second week it was Semana Santa (Holy Week) which can get pretty intense with people coming from all over Andalucía to observe and partake in the religious processions. This made it a perfect opportunity to visit the nearby cities of Cordoba and Cadiz and some of us are planning to visit Granada in the near future.'

Photo curtesy of Sam: Knocking in iron bars to build sediment guards to prevent flamingos and other birds from disturbing the underlying sediments in particular areas.

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