Living in Oviedo has many perks – great food, a great atmosphere, and accessibility to many great places. Also, it has the University of Oviedo, where the Temple in Spain semester and summer programs are held for Spanish language and culture courses. With three weeks of school already completed, it’s hard to believe that my group and I have been here for over four weeks. As homesick as I’ve gotten, I definitely would not have been able to cope as easily as I have without the wonderful distraction of school.
Personally, I’ve always secretly liked school: it gave me something to do, it kept me busy after hours, and, of course, it’s taught me some incredible lessons. Being in a school in another country is no different in these respects. Luckily, there are no classes held after 3:00 p.m. each day, giving us plenty of time to explore the city of Oviedo and, on the weekends, giving us time to reach the airport for an early flight if we wanted to travel. So far, my classes have varied between reviewing grammar material to learning the history of Spain and the culture that I wouldn’t have learned in a language class. I can definitely see that I will learn a lot in my classes and I am excited to learn more.
Some breaks from homework consist of meeting up with friends and heading down to Gascona – El Bulevar de la Sidra [Boulevard of Sidra]. Gascona is a small strip of restaurants – mostly sidrerías – where you can have anything from a drink with friends to a full meal. The two times I’ve gone thus far with friends, I have had tapas and sidra, the traditional Asturian drink of cider. The first thing visitors realize about sidra is the way it is poured: the bottle in one stretched arm and the glass held at the hip. This process oxidizes the drink; if this process weren’t to occur, the sidra would be similar to flat soda. In the glass, you will be served a culin, which comes from the word culata meaning “butt.” A culin of sidra is the typical amount (about 6oz.) and is meant to be drunk quickly, as the sidra “dies” if it sits (no worries, it just gets flat—still safe to drink but definitely not as appetizing).
When needing a weekend break, Oviedo offers easy access to other places in Asturias, Spain, and the rest of Europe. Two weekends ago, many of the Temple students took a day trip to Gijon, which is easily accessed from Oviedo through a quick train or bus ride. Gijon is a beach town located in the north of Asturias against the sea of Cantabrica. It is similar to Oviedo in the way that the streets are winding and sometimes confusing, but is still small enough to figure out how to get back to the train station. Unlike Oviedo, however, Gijon is very flat with very few hills. We spent the day discovering many of Gijon’s seaside sights from exercise parks and cliffs to famous statues and fancy restaurants.
Since then, the entire Temple group has been travelling. This past weekend, I went to Germany to visit family, two girls went to London, another went to Madrid, and the rest on a trip to Brussels, Belgium. The quick and easy (and usually inexpensive) flights offered from Oviedo and surrounding airports allow us to travel without missing too much school, but still give us the experience of a lifetime.