Santillana del Mar

I have to play a little bit of catch up because the last week was really hectic and I didn’t have time to post as much as I wanted to…

Anyways, for our last excursion they took us to Santillana del Mar where we were free to explore the little town at our leisure. The whole time spent in Spain I was surrounded by tangible preserved history but I never lost the sense of awe I first felt on my first taxi ride into Oviedo. Walking in this town totally reminded me of how lucky I am to have had this opportunity and now am apart of the passing history of this town. All the shops are too cute  and just the setting in general is beautiful! While exploring, we found the museum of torture that we were told is not for the faint-hearted but definitely an interesting glimpse on the history of not only Spain but Europe in general. THAT was an intense experience although it was very interesting. Afterwards we just continued wandering throughout the little calles and shops until it was time to go. It will forever be a sunny-filled memory spent with good company.20140719_115556 20140719_123149 20140719_123317 20140719_134126

Pre-Departure Post

Looking through all of my posts, I’ve realized that for some reason my pre-departure post isn’t on here, probably due to error of user. Anyways, before I departed I was still a little bit undecided about how I felt about Spain in general. Naturally I’ve always had more interest in traveling to countries that were not the imperialists but those that were colonized so needless to say Spain wasn’t the first country that I thought I would study abroad in. I try not to have expectations when I travel but just as a comparison, I thought it would be more down to earth than the USA but more sophisticated than Costa Rica (which is the only other country I have experience abroad in). I had heard that Spain is a very religious country so I assumed that there would be a lot of churches and that the culture would be more religious centered than in the USA. I also wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew that Oviedo is an older, historical town but that it wasn’t excluded from the festive night life that takes place in all of Spain. I think of myself as a pretty open-minded person so I just saw myself learning to interact with the Spanish culture as best as I can. I know that making mistakes is part of it all so I saw myself enjoying the experience whether it was similar to what I thought it would be like or not. My main concern was that I wouldn’t get along with my host family because that has a significant impact on my experience in a foreign country. I was also concerned about the language barrier but I also knew that the language barrier is probably one of the most exciting challenges for me. All in all I was a bit apprehensive but also super excited and grateful to be able to visit SPAIN!! I am so fortunate for all of the opportunities presented to me and I really value being able to study abroad and see things from other perspectives!

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Art Museum

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Although Oviedo is such a small town, it seems to have it all! On Tuesday we took a trip to the local art museum. Our guide, one of the professors from school, was very informative but also conscious that we would be overwhelmed if we covered all of the pieces so she selected specific pieces to show us. Among them we saw some pieces by Goya and Dali which was amazing to see the pieces in person and not just copies! We were going to view some pieces by Picasso but they were on exhibition in Madrid at the time. Although learning the historical value of the pieces by Goya was interesting, my favorite piece was by Dali called Mariposa. The professor was not expecting to present on this piece but she was also very informative on capturing the significance of the little details of the piece and what they meant to the artist.

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Covadonga

We ended our excursion on Saturday with a trip to Covadonga. Tradition says that the first Asturian king, Pelayo had victory against the Muslims in a battle in 722. Additionally there is a cave where it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to give courage in war. At the foot of the cave there is a fountain and legend says that if one drinks from it, they are assured to have a good marriage. Also in this area is the Basilica that was built over 100 years ago.

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Los Lagos

There are no words to justify how beautiful this place is. Pictures can’t even do it justice but I’m going to try. The lakes we visited, Enol and Ercina, are situated in a national park with a mountainous landscape. There are cows all over the place which made the drive up even more challenging because they would just mosey in front of the cars. There were also sheep all along the road too. I’m pretty sure I saw a wolf but I can’t be sure because it was in the distance and people bring their dogs everywhere with them. We were told that animals similar to antelope live in the mountains as well as foxes, wolves and numerous species of birds. We got to eat our lunch with a view and later on explored the area.20140712_123047 20140712_134828 20140712_135836 20140712_141224 20140712_144610 20140712_150835

Cangas de Onis

Saturday was a full day of site seeing that took my breath away. The first place we visited was Cangas de Onis which is a cute little town but has a lot to offer. After getting off of the bus (the bus ride was an adventure itself because this area is situated high up in the mountains), we immediately walked up to el Dolmen prehistorico where la Capilla de la Santa Cruz, or the Chapel of Santa Cruz  is which was the first Christian church in the area and dates back to the times of the Romans.

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Next we walked over to el Puente Medieval also constructed by the Romans. It is situated on the main street and is one of my favorite places that we have visited because it is nature’s eyecandy. The weather at this point was also treating us well so that made everything even better! Wow we are so lucky :)

Gijon

On Wednesday we all got to go on an excursion after class to a close-by coastal town called Gijon. The weather wasn’t awful but it definitely not the weather one imagines at the beach. Nonetheless we had an excellent time exploring the little town. First we went to a museum that focuses on the traditional Asturian life. It was quite interesting although I didn’t go on the entire tour because I stayed back to help interpret for one of my classmates. Since I’ve always considered being an interpreter this was a really fun experience for me and it was totally worth it.

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Next we went to visit the fisherman’s town part of Gijon. The route we took had incredible scenery of not only the ocean but also the European style little streets. We ended the whole thing with a trip to an ice cream shop…and can I just say that they have got the perfect recipe for ice cream figured out here in Spain!It was artisan’s ice cream but the texture is like no other here and the flavors are delectable! To any future travelers in Spain: NEVER pass up an ice cream opportunity.

Fiesta+Family+Friends

Monday night my host, Pepita, and Lexi and her host, Nieves, all went to a fiesta up in the hills. I asked what the occasion was but all Pepita told me was that it was a family gathering… That being said I think it was more of a family gathering bringing whoever else they wanted because there were so many people, I’m guessing about 300. I was really excited because Maria Jose (Pepita’s daughter and the person I stayed with the first week I was in Spain) was going to be working at this event in the kitchen so I got to see her. I also got to see Jose, her husband, and their daughter Maria. The week I had stayed with Maria Jose and Jose, Maria and Pepita had been in Madrid together so Maria had bought me a little gift of a notebook and a pen; so cute! At the party there were two bouncy houses for the kids so Lexi and I watched Maria release some of her energy out on those before too many people got there. Then we went for a walk around the country to explore and Maria taught us what different bugs and plants are called. She found a baby snail for us to hold and we named it Charlie.

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When we got back the food was ready and I enjoyed the tortilla de patata which is kinda like a cross between an omelette and a quiche but not really…anyways, I love them so much so I was very satisfied. Additionally there was a lot of sidra, of course. Then once it hit 10:30 the band, Domino, came out and they were a lot of fun to watch. I have limited knowledge of the dances here but it made my night to watch everyone have a great time together dancing the night away. Many of the women in our group are definitely fanatics about dancing and didn’t hold back at all. I loved it!!! However, since Lexi and I had school the next day we went home before the party ended.

Espicha (Asturian Typical Festival)

On 4th of July, Friday, we had a get together with all of the students from the program but Asturian style. They have long tables with small plates of food that each person picks from. Also served is red wine, sparkling water to go in the wine and water. There is a good variety of little snacks available for everyone and everything is delicious. Among everything is their famous cheeses and huge barrels of sidra. They played typical Asturian music (with bagpipe form of instrument) and had authentic dancing. It was a very fun experience and I got to meet some new people!

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Being the Mayor

On Tuesday we got take a tour of Oviedo and get to know the town a little bit better, Afterwards we went to the city council and into one of the government buildings. On entering a man directed me to a chair in the center next to two others that obviously meant power. Being shy I suggested that someone else take the place but he insisted so I went up there. In a representation of how the government works here we had to reenact everything and I was the mayor.Miranda Mayor

My job was to hypothetically invite an artist (Beyonce) for the town festival coming up soon. However, in order to afford her entertainment, I had to decide what to tax the city on. This was kind of a peculiar situation for me because just that morning my host had been telling me that everyone was struggling just to make it day to day and that she was not happy with how things were being run… SO, having this information prior to being put in charge of increasing taxes was interesting. Although we had fun learning how decisions are made here for the city and having the opportunity to be in such a beautiful building.

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