Amigas… Finding Friendship in Sevilla

By Eileen Giudice, API Seville Peer Mentor from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Above is a picture of the purse and bracelet referenced in my essay along with a picture of María (right) and I at Feria with a dress I mentioned she let me borrow. I recently sent her this photo collage framed for her birthday.

Afternoons lying in the grass along the sun-sparkling river. Nights of botellón next to the famous Torre de Oro. Tapas and authentic Spanish meals with our host families. Mornings walking past the third largest cathedral in the world…My American friends and I had a saying for our study abroad life in Seville: This is not real. It truly did seem that every moment of our study abroad experience was too wonderful to be reality and instead seemed as though it were a scene in a movie in which we were fortunate actors pretending to own these wonderful lives. Though my last night in Seville was nothing too extraordinary, especially compared to so many other things I had done, seen, and experienced, it was the most powerful moment in my time in Spain.

It was a beautiful night on my last night in Seville, the air warm from the blazing heat of the day and the sky clear dancing with stars. I attended a block party in the heart of the city solely with my Spanish friends. We danced Sevillana, a traditional Sevillian dance that I had learned weeks before in order to participate fully in Feria, a week-long festival that occurs once a year in Seville, ate my favorite tapas, sang Spanish songs I had come to know, and shared laughs with a group of people who had welcomed me like an a friend from the instance I met them. With two hours left before my plane would take off, I told my closest friend María I could stall no longer and that it was sadly time for me to leave. Walking with María to the street to hail a cab, I turned around to see tears in her eyes growing bigger and falling faster with each blink. After a few moments, she choked out, “I don’t want you to go,” a statement she would continue to repeat until my own eyes were blurred. I looked down at my wrist at the gift she had given me earlier that night. It was a bracelet identical to hers, a bracelet that was the reason we became friends. On my first day of class, I had gone up to her to compliment her on a simple strand of beads around her wrist with hopes that I could spark conversation and make a Spanish friend—the one thing I had deeply desired to do in coming to Spain. Despite my fumbled compliment filled with grammatical errors and quivering words from nerves, she smiled at me and asked if I wanted to hang out that weekend. From then on, I would spend almost every weekend with her, meeting her friends, seeing all parts of Seville, and learning about her life as she learned about mine. Without that bracelet, I may not have gone up to that girl who had become not just my closest Spanish friend but one of my closest friends ever.

Standing there almost wishing no cab would arrive, she suddenly began pulling everything out of her purse, a purse I had always told her I loved. “Eileen,” she said, “I want you to have this.” I stood there shocked, staring at the second gift she had now placed in my hands, this time an item that was part of her life, as it had been her favorite purse that she used daily. The fact that she was willing to give up something she loved because she knew it would make me happy exemplified just how kind she was and always had been to me. From the times she brought me to barbeques with her friends, helped me with my Spanish, let me borrow a dress to wear for Feria—she had done countless things that were beyond caring and here she was acting more thoughtful than anyone has ever been to me.

With my things now filling María’s purse, I reflected on the symbolism of this purse that would remind me forever of our friendship and keep us connected, just as the bracelet also served to do. In that moment I realized how kindness is not limited to one culture or one people, but is within the capacity of all humans and more importantly can be shown to those who may be the most different from us. I saw then too that what we call language and cultural barriers do not have to hold us back. They can be broken down, hurdled over, and understood. I chose to double-major in Spanish and Communications for my love of people and connecting with others, as I believe our ability to better understand and relate to one another will lead to a more peaceful world. In my Spanish friend’s selfless act, I witnessed firsthand how important that connection truly is and how powerful it can be. It made me realize I want to continue to make that connection happen, not just for my own personal benefit but on a more global level. Without having studied abroad, without having pushed myself to talk to a Spaniard on my first day of class, without loving people like María, I would not have learned this amazing lesson that impacted me then and will reside with me forever along with a purse and bracelet I will always treasure.

 

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Comments

  1. Julie Leitman says

    Lovely, Eileen. You brought tears to my eyes and transported me back to my time in Sevilla. Thank you.

  2. Friendship is a lovely relation among all relation and friendship between friend is something very good, so its a very good discussion, thanks a lot

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