Well I’ve only been in Oviedo for 4 days and I already am completely in love with this place. Let me start by talking about the very beginning of my Spain adventure, before I even left.I’ve never been outside of the United States (unless you count Canada…and even if you do then I’ve never been more than an hour outside the US), but I’ve always always always been drawn to the idea of exploring the world. So, I really grabbed the bull by the horns in this situation by plopping myself in a country for 5 months, with no friends and horrible spanish speaking ability. ¡Ay dios mio! However It didn’t really hit me how insane this sounded until I was saying goodbye to my family and stepping onto an airplane as possibly the only person on board (including the flight attendants and pilot) who spoke english as a first language…..yikes.
Fast forward to today and I’ve already had a crazy amount of great experiences!! The first week in Madrid was great. I’m not sure if we all just got lucky but we have a pretty awesome group, we all have so much fun together and I think I laughed for an entire week straight while in Madrid. Our hotel was right in the center of town which was a great location for exploring purposes. The very first day me and my roommate Amy explored Madrid. We wandered through Plaza del Sol, Plaza Mayor, beautiful streets and met some friendly people from all over the world! The best part was that when we spoke in Español, people actually understood us and we could understand them! It was definitely a confidence booster.
We spent the week in Madrid getting to know eachother and learning about the Temple Spain program, and about Spain, claro. We went to places like Segovia, Ávila, Escorial, Museo Nacional del Prado and we got to experience one of the biggest holidays of the year, Día de Los Reyes! The Spanish celebrate Christmas but they also celebrate the Day of the 3 Kings or “Epiphany” which is the day when all the little niños receive their presents, like how kids in the States receive lots of presents on Christmas. The kids in Spain usually have a smaller Christmas while Epiphany is the day whe they reciece a lotttt of gifts, rather than Christmas like here. We watched a parade the night before Epiphany and the next daywhen we woke up and went to Ávila, the streets were completely empty, everyone was sleeping in and celebrating Reyes. As the day went on people started to slowly pour out of their homes, mainly the children going to show off their toys to their friends in the streets.
The experience in Oviedo has proven to be much different than the one that I had in Madrid. Madrid was more of a touristy experience, and I barely ever got the chance to speak Spanish because more people in Madrid know English, and they automatically start speaking it to us. I know I have blonde hair, but is it really THAT obvious that I’m an estadounidense (person from the states) ?! oh well. Here in Oviedo its different though, our group doesn’t get stared at like a circus attraction as much, and I feel more at home here, not just on a touristy vacation. Today is my 3rd day and I’m just beginning to settle into a routine, although I think it I will take a while for me to totally catch up with this experience, it’s already going so fast! Sometimes I feel really discouraged about my
Spanish, but I’m hoping that will change soon! I really want to become fluent, I never knew something could be so fun yet so frustrating at the same time! My host mom is absolutely wonderful, she lets me have my independence but is super friendly and a great cook. She kinda looks like my real mom which is funny. But I feel bad because my vocab is very limited, so we usually run out of things to talk about quickly. She knows I’m learning though and is very patient. She knows a little english so sometimes shes able to help me with words. Her boyfriend, Marcos comes over every night, he’s also very nice but he’s much harder to understand than mi madre, which I also feel bad about! Mi madre said something funny, that since he is from southern Spain he has a very strong accent that even she can’t understand sometimes! Who knows why I can’t understand him, but I hopeone day I can have an extensive conversation with him, thats a goal :]
The food is awesome here, although I might get sick of simple carbs pretty soon. I think I’m going to have to start a list of weird things that I eat, so far I can add liver and Octopus tentacles. ¡que rico!
Tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m really excited for that! We’re going salsa dancing with a student organization at my school, Universidad de Oviedo, that has been organizing different excursions for us for our “welcome week”. Exciting!