Excursiones con CIEE
This post is by Meg Lappe, a Communications major and Spanish minor student at Villanova University. During the spring 2013 semester she is participating in the CIEE Communication, New Media and Journalism program.
Before I left for Spain I was convinced I was going to have loads of free time. No more meetings, babysitting or lifeguarding, perhaps even no more homework. One of the first things that I realized here, following orientation, was that I could choose to have all that free time and watch TV with my family or go shopping during siesta or just lounge around, or I could take advantage of the many different ‘excursions’ that CIEE offers. Once orientation was over, I was a little concerned that I would have too much free time. As a person who claims to love to be busy, I was a little like a fish out of water. About 1.5 days after orientation, we received our calendars of activities. I was thrilled.
I quickly realized that the activities CIEE offers are enough to keep you busy your whole time here. Basically every day there is an activity and they are all free! You don’t even have to worry about planning trips for the weekends, as there are also day trips. Each activity is with fabulous guides.
I have also been lucky enough to take day trips to Carmona, Huelva, Itálica, the Roman Ruins outside of Sevilla, Córdoba and Cádiz.
On each day trip there are fabulous buses that take you there and back with the proper air conditioning or heat. The guides split you into groups and you get to see a little bit more of Andalusia. Each day trip has a different feel as each area has its own history and culture. Some trips, like Carmona and Itálica, only last for the morning, so you return home just in time for a fabulous home cooked lunch and siesta.
My favorite trips inside the city would be to the Cathedral and Giralda and the tour of Barrio Santa Cruz. The Cathedral is obviously one of the most famous tourist sites around, but even my guidebooks did not include all the information that our guide shared with us. I learned so much about the history of the Cathedral and in turn, about Sevilla. If there is anything you plan to do when you travel here it should be the Cathedral and the Giralda. I’ve been there twice already and now that I found out it is free to visit with our university identification card I will be returning simply to climb the Giralda and look at the view. Each time I go it reminds me how lucky I am to be studying here in this beautiful city, and also how much more I have to see!
All of the day trips I have gone on have been a great time. Sometimes I have been able to go on trips with all of my friends and sometimes just a few, but each time I have been able to meet people in different programs within CIEE, which is very helpful. My program only has 26 students, so I love being able to travel with each one of them on the CIEE excursions and being able to meet other students as well.
I would have to say that the day trip I enjoyed the most was the trip to Huelva. We went on a hike, or senderismo, and we were all prepared to hike up mountains. What we weren’t prepared for were all the farms we were basically walking through. We had fabulous guides who stopped and pointed out different flora and fauna and occasional beautiful view. It was quite comical to see all the Americans in their North Faces, leggings, and Nike sneakers walk along dirt paths, try and cross over small rivers and stop by different farms to pet the huge dogs that we spotted along the way. We stopped for lunch in a tiny town where some were lucky enough to play a little soccer with the locals.
Each excursion I have gone on with CIEE has been a different adventure and I have loved knowing that I am learning more about the city each time. It also doesn’t hurt that I never have to spend any money. To any future student, I would say take advantage of all the information CIEE can offer to you!