Andalucia [ahn-dah-loo-SEE-uh] is the region of southern Spain that Seville exists in, as well as Granada and Málaga and Córdoba. It’s like a county, basically. It also is the region with the most intense accent. And they’re pretty proud of it, too. Andalucians will tell you all about their history (from what I’ve heard, it’s mostly Sevillanos bragging about Sevilla) and how their accent evolved. Basically, Seville sits on the Guadalquivir River, which slices the city in half. This made it an excellent city for industry during the industrial revolution, because it allowed easy access for ships and traders to get into the city and back to the ocean. This also meant that the Spanish language was exposed to other languages, and the Andalucian accent was born. (This might not be the most accurate history lesson, so please don’t quote me, I’m just going off of what I’ve gathered from all the people talking about it). The Andalucian accent contrasts mostly with the “standard” Castellano in it’s relaxedness. Sevillanos (I can’t speak for all Andalucians) have a tendency to not pronounce their consonants, especially [s]s. Their vowels are also fairly relaxed, which means that when you have someone speaking quickly, not enunciating their vowels or their consonants, and it’s not your first language… you’ll probably be in for a rough time. However, they’re pretty good about repeating words for you, and using gestures to help you out. In addition, most people that I’ve met know a little bit of English and love the excuse to practice it with you.
Also important to note: Spain uses the vosotros form of conjugation, the equivalent to “all of you/y’all” in America. That means you’ll be hearing a lot of “ai” [eye] and “ei” [ayy] sounds, and it’s probably them addressing you.
The thing about the accent here is that they know it exists, and they’re proud of it. It represents a lot of history, and it distinguishes them from other regions. So, you’ve just got to go with it.
Also somewhat related, if you head further north, and east, to the Cataluña region (think Barcelona), Catalan is the preferred language. That is to say, it’s a separate language. They know and will speak Spanish with you, but Cataluña is also trying to declare themselves independent of Spain, so it’s a little bit different– just something to keep in mind! I know a few people who are studying there, and they’re still learning Spanish, but the host families also will tend to speak Catalan when it’s just within the family. (( Disclaimer: the people I know who are studying there all LOVE Barcelona, and have no shortage of wonderful things to say about it. My host family, in addition, raves about trips to Barcelona. All I’m saying is that if you choose to take a trip there, keep in mind that there is another language that is very present, so don’t be shocked if you’re thinking “wow what a strange accent…” without realizing that it’s not the same language!! ))