I find myself to be well-adjusted to living here in Oviedo, despite the fact that it has only been two weeks. In this short time, I “found my way,” so to speak, and am settled in to the daily routine of school, late lunches and dinner, etcetera. Now that the woes and feelings of shock and nervousness of being in a new city have dulled down, I feel comfort to go out and explore in my free time. I finally had the opportunity to take a picture of the Oviedo sign, a staple of the city, that I too often just walked by without acknowledging its large presence. I also visited Oviedo’s version of Central Park, called el Parque de San Francisco. Though much smaller, the park is rather big to be situated in the center of a city. It boasts a children’s playground, a doggie park, a pond, and an array of statues. One of those status is of Mafalda, a cartoon character known throughout Spain, who is propped on a park bench sitting quaintly and facing the pond. (Of course, I took a picture of this too.)
Food, Libations, and Celtic Music
Though most of our time post-arrival has been spent outside of the group setting, our program director hosts monthly group dinners where we all get together, dine, and talk about our experiences. On Thursday, our Temple group convened at a local Sidreria to try the region’s best sidra (alcoholic cider) and local Asturian dishes. The assortment of food was very typical Spanish food: meats, breads, fish, and veggies. We also tried cheese made in Asturias, which was delicious when mixed with an Asturian-made jelly. While we ate and indulged, a live band played at the restaurant. What I was most intrigued by during the dinner was not the food, but the music. Some songs had an Irish feel to them, and I soon learned of the Celtic traditions of Spain. I had always thought such traditions were only in Ireland, but our director and native Ovitense, explained that the north region of Spain, parts of France, as well as Ireland have a strong Celtic tradition. This information served me well because the following morning my host mom was playing Celtic music while she cleaned and I was able to share with her what I learned. It excited her that I already knew about the music that she was bobbing her head to when she asked me if I was familiar with this genre.
Out of class learning: Movie time
I found that the class structure at the University of Oviedo is much different than at Temple. The Spanish saying, “no pasa nada,” truly applies to school life at the University. I find this low-pressure environment refreshing, however, because we are truly able to focus on specific aspects of the Spanish language without the worry of trying to juggle an exorbitant amount of assignments. I believe a lot of the learning is going to come from out of the classroom, and I think the professors agree. With that sentiment in mind, I have been trying to get engaged and participate in life as an Ovitense (on a budget.) This past Monday, I went to a see a free screening of a movie in Spanish as to 1) have something to do in the evening and 2) work on my auditory skills. I was happy to enter into a packed audience of locals; it turns out these movie showings, which happen weekly, are a part of a cultural series that highlight human rights through film. That was my second film, and I plan on going for as often as the program continues.
This upcoming weekend I am traveling to Bilbao to visited the Guggenheim Museum, and to San Sebastian, which is supposedly one of the most precious beach towns in Northern Spain. Get ready for pictures and a recount of my experience in other parts of Spain!