Spanish Sisters

Name: Natalia Serrano

Location: Los Angeles, California

Relationship to Jessica: Friend/Fellow Trianera/Part of her extended Spain family

Jess and I were connected by our Spanish host family in 2004-05. We eventually met in New York a year later and then had a fabulous European weekend getaway in December of 2009. Jessica was a beloved friend and I will always consider her part of my family in Spain.

Natalia & Jessica in Sevilla, December 2009


My first introduction to Jessica was through the continual praise of my Spanish host family. Jessica was the first American student to live with them and I was the second. According to Marta, our Spanish sister, we had so much in common (including the fact that both Jess and I looked more Spanish than she) and she insisted we meet.

I met Jessica about a year after I finished my year abroad and was going to graduate school in New York. We decided to meet up for brunch and I remember my curiosity and excitement as I approached the restaurant. I had heard so much about Jessica during my year in Sevilla from our Spanish family and friends that it felt like I already knew her. You could tell Jess was a special breed just from the way people talked about her. After our brunch I couldn’t help but gush about her, too.

Our time together was brief, but the connection undeniable. We would schedule phone dates, email back and forth about the happenings in our lives, and send each other unexpected messages and photos of New York blizzards, California palm trees, and the Italian countryside. Our friendship may have been untraditional, but it was strong nonetheless.

In December of 2009, I decided to take a trip back to Spain. I mentioned the trip to Jess and suggested she come along. We excitedly began planning our trip back to Sevilla to celebrate Marta’s birthday and have a Spain host family reunion. Jess stayed with me in an apartment I rented in Triana and together we spent three whirlwind days rediscovering Sevilla and living life to the fullest.

I have many memories of Jess— her smile, her laugh, and her New Jersey way of saying “yea, yea, yea” when she agreed with me —but what resonates most is the memory of her sparkling spirit. I will be forever thankful for her presence in my life.


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  1. Bill Williams says

    That slideshow is truly great and inspiring Natalia. I know Jess had the time of her life in Sevilla – made me so jealous that I never studied abroad. Glad you had this great memory with her.

  2. Natalia Serrano says

    Thanks, Bill. I know Jess loved her time abroad in Sevilla and our 2009 trip was epic. In true Jess fashion, she spent the whole trip laughing as she rediscovered her love for Spain and the street piropos (cat calls). I’m glad was able to capture her laugh to share with everyone. I can’t help but smile every time I hear it.

  3. Sandra Mergeanian says

    So, that must be where my “yea, yea, yea” comes from! ha I remember when Jess started doing her “due diligence” to find out who would be next to live with her host family. The whole time I was thinking you’re ridiculous. Who cares? But look at what it turned into! So happy she was able to experience Sevilla again with you. xoxo

  4. Lauren Albert says

    I love seeing how happy Jess was in Sevilla – it was such a special place to her, and she is glowing and so beautiful in your video. After Jess met you, she was definitely gushing about you too, Natalia!