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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.