Sometimes we try to imagine how life might be in another country, if it is too different from ours, if it would be easy to adapt ourselves, what would be the biggest cultural shock and all these sort of questions that come to our minds. This week World By Isa will be launching it’s first Guest Series, “Throught Foreigner Eyes”, that will share with you guys, the experience of different expats around the world.
The series will go out every first week of the month, featuring a different expat and their unique stories. This month we will be interviewing Ania, check out below!
So Ania, tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you and where are you from?
Czesc! I’m Ania (An-ya) a 26-year-old Polish-American travel junkie. I’m a sushi eating, wine drinking, beauty loving, adventure freak! I’ve quit my 9-5 corporate life and salary for a budget and carry-on. I am a traveler with a purpose to inspire. I’m originally from Poland but I grew up in Chicago. Currently living in Seville, Spain.
What did bring you to Spain afterall?
Since I left Chicago I’ve kind of been chasing the sun. With Chicago being cold during the winter months I wanted to go somewhere warm. I spent some time in South East Asia but it was time for a change for me. My heart has always belonged in Europe so I figured I had to head over that way. I’ve always loved the Spanish culture, food, music, and I spoke a little bit of Spanish so that made the transition easier.
I feel you, I would be get tired of the cold weather too! So you found a place that mix the European lifestyle with the warm weather and people you needed!
What were your expectations before arriving there?
Spain was one of the only countries in Europe I haven’t been to before I arrived there. I knew it was a place with amazing food and music and that’s pretty much it. I also knew it would have the laid back feel that most of Europe has. Just with warm weather all year round, siestas, and tapas instead of full meals.
What about your first impression?
I absolutely fell in love with Seville right from the get go. I remember getting off the airplane and gust of warm air hitting my face that automatically put a smile on my face. I loved all of the small streets, the colors, and how the entire city smells like orange blossoms.
Did you have any cultural shock? What was that?
I had a couple. The main one was with teenagers and young adults speaking English. Usually, whenever I travel I would think that the people in their teens and 20’s would know English and I would go to them for help. That’s not the case in Seville. The younger generations know almost no English whereas the older generations (mid 30’s and older) do know English.
I also had a culture shock with the way they celebrated Easter here. Being a Polish-American we start our holy week with Palm Sunday, bless our eggs on the following Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Wet Monday and have an Easter egg hunt somewhere in between. In Spain, they celebrate Semana Santa (Holy week). Every day of the week they have processions where they sing and pray walking across the city (essentially a huge parade). But this isn’t like any parade I’ve ever seen before. Everyone is dressed up in religious costumes with floats that are extremely detailed and beautiful (each can weigh up to 1000kilo and is carried by 30 people). The costumes they are dressed in are called Cofradias (they look like KKK costumes), they represent the sins of the people carrying the cross since they are sinners they cover their faces not to be recognized by the public. Each day there can be up to 10 different colors of Cofradias seen around the city. These processions last for 7 full days from 13h all the way till 4 IN THE MORNING, and Thursday being the most important night. TOTALLY different than what I am used to.
Wow, it’s interesting. Although having the same religion, different countries have their own way to celebrate!
What’s your favorite historical or cultural spot nearby?
There is so much history in Spain and each place is so beautiful that it’s hard to pick just one. But I think I would have to choose the Royal Alcazar. This is a Moorish royal palace dating back to the 12th century. The place is absolutely breathtaking with its art and architecture. You can spend hours there just being lost and admiring its beauty. There is also a royal garden that has a cafe where you can enjoy a glass of vino and people watch. But I think the best part about it… Parts of Game of Thrones were filmed here.
What would you miss the most if you moved away?
I think I’ll miss the quick access to tapas the most. I’m a huge foodie and tapas are just so dang good. I love quick bites and sharing. Not having easy access to tapas will definitely be heartbreaking.
Now, if you could add anything from your country in Spain, what would it be?
Room temperature wine. I understand that it gets super hot here and you even need to chill your red wine on hot summer days. But what about the rest of the year? This girl loves (and misses) a good room temperature Rioja or Tempranillo.
You can find Ania here: