Some time in the last week the other Temple students and I started to realize that we’re already about a third of the way through our semester here in Oviedo, and we’ve been talking about how quickly the time seems to go by. While my friends back in Philadelphia are eagerly awaiting their spring break, I keep wondering how it’s possible that mine is only one month away—what have I been doing with all this time?
Earlier this month we spent several days enjoying Carnaval all around Asturias. Until I started preparing for this semester, I had only seen pictures of the famous festivals in Rio de Janeiro and Venice, but here I was able to celebrate the pre-Lent season in three different cities. The first and most elaborate event was in Avilés, a nearby city that hosts the popular Decenso de Galiana every year. People from around the region go in costumes to watch the parade, and canon-like machines spray foam to cover the street and everyone in it. Although the crowd this year was smaller than usual because of the cold and rainy weather, there were still plenty of people who didn’t want to miss out. During the week following the parade in Avilés, the Carnaval festivities continued in nearby Gijón and in Oviedo. There were parades and other events for families during the day, and at night the streets were again filled with people dressed up. Between shopping for simple costumes and taking buses to the different events, the week of celebrations flew by.
There isn’t always a series of festivals occupying the city, but during a typical week there are still plenty of activities to keep us busy. Erasmus, an organization for European exchange students, plans trips and hosts events like “Martes de Tapas” (Tapas Tuesday) every week for local and international students to get to know each other. A lot of students have also started meeting with conversation partners. This week we were matched up with Spanish students through the Tandem program run by the university, and there are also flyers around campus with other opportunities for language exchanges. Just this week I met with two different girls who are hoping to practice their English. Meeting students from Oviedo has helped me get more confident speaking Spanish outside of class, and it’s also been a great way to learn more about the city.
We’ve also done a good bit of exploring as a group. Yesterday Jaime took us to Oviedo’s art and archeological museums, where we saw works by famous Spanish artists as well as examples of local history and culture. Although the museums are smaller than ones in cities like Madrid, access to their collections is free to everyone. I thought one of the art museum’s most impressive pieces was Picasso’s Mosquetero con espada y amorcillo, but I’m also excited to go back to see the paintings that were being restored.