Through my Public, Community and Alternative Media course at LSE, four classmates and I were able to attend the V Congreso Internacional de Radios y Televisiones Locales Públicas y Alternativas in Seville, Spain. Spain never held much interest for me, but when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t turn it down. While I learned a lot at the conference, it’s what I learned outside the auditorium that has made this trip stick with me.
Lesson #1 – My Fantastic Sense of Direction Works Even When I’m Anxious
Upon arrival at the bus/train depot in Seville, I had to part ways with the male half of the class’s contingent as my and the yet-to-arrive rest of the females’ hostel was in the complete opposite direction to theirs. I was afraid of getting lost and not being able to get help with my rudimentary Spanish. I appealed to their gentlemanly duties to aid a lady in distress, but I couldn’t compete with a bus that needed to be caught. Armed with only a map, I crossed the busy avenue after bidding them an unpleasant adios and a ‘you better hope you see me later’ for good measure.Standing out like a sore thumb in my heavy winter coat in the 70 degree sunshine (it was February and that morning it was cold in London), with a traveler’s backpack on my back and map in my hand, I made my way through the maze of Seville’s narrow streets. I only had to turn around once, right at the beginning while I was trying to figure out which way I needed to hold the map. I was so pumped when I reached the hostel without getting lost.
Lesson #2 – Coffee Can Not Just Smell Good But Taste Good Too
After a late night and early rise our group needed a coffee break. We went into a coffee bar not far from the conference. I was hesitant because I’m not a coffee/espresso/latte/whatever drinker. Every time I’ve tried it, it never tastes how I think it should – which is as good as its aroma. But this morning we were hurting and I needed the caffeine to stay awake for the rest of the day’s sessions. I saddled on up to the bar, mimicked the more experienced drinkers by adding sugar, and downed the shot in one go. It was freaking delicious. I wanted to return there every day. Sadly, I’ve never found a cup as good as those in Seville.
Lesson #3 – Accessories Make the Outfit, Well, an Outfit
My dress style was pretty blah. The only rule I tended to follow was v-necks are better than crew-necks. Looking at the women on the streets of Seville, I couldn’t help but notice their effortless, yet fashion-forward, style. I thought the fact I had a structured jacket on would equate to style. I was wrong.
My two roommates in Seville were more on the put together side of fashion. The second night in town they showed me the power of adding accessories to your clothes to create an actual outfit. Fully aware of my ineptness, I was a willing student. They made me change my jacket, and gave me a sparkly, thin, colorful scarf to wear wrapped around my neck. They were disappointed I couldn’t fit into their shoes. Arriving at the bar, I did feel more put together.
Lesson #4 – Wow. This Liverpool Side Isn’t Bad
Arsenal was a stone’s throw from my flat in London, José Mourinho was coaching across town at Chelsea, and it was Wayne Rooney’s first year with Manchester United. There was plenty to watch without Liverpool. The UEFA Champions League was in its First Knockout Round while we were in Seville. A classmate’s friend was in town visiting another friend who was from England and a huge Liverpool fan.
One afternoon a few of us met up with this Liverpudlian to watch the Barcelona/Chelsea match. While watching the game he filled us in on the previous day’s Liverpool match that they won – thank goodness or he might not have been a happy camper. This introduction to the side couldn’t have been timelier. With all I learned from this fan, I made sure to watch what turned out to be a fantastic run for the Championship, which they ultimately did win in a shoot-out.