One week later, and life in Spain has calmed down a bit. Well, actually scratch that–I’m just getting into the swing of things now. Life in Oviedo has many similarities to life at home, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also need to make some big adjustments.
The most prominent difference in day-to-day life (other than language) is Spain’s schedule. Like in The States, many wake up early in the morning to head to work or school. It’s noteworthy that breakfast isn’t normally as heavy as in the U.S. – instead, it’s normally a cup of coffee and piece of toast and fruit. Lunch happens around 2:00 or 3:00 pm, with a break in the day afterwards. While taking a midday nap or siesta isn’t universal, there is a break in activity, as most businesses will close from around 2:00 – 5:00 pm. Things resume after that break until dinnertime, which is a lot later than in the U.S., at around 9:00 pm or even 10:00 pm. On weekends, nightlife starts a lot later too, with some people not heading out until as late as 1:00 am!
Because of this, an average day for me looks like:
8:00/8:30 am (when I’m sleepy) – Wake up, get my things together, eat breakfast
9:15 am – Head out to El Campus de El Milán where we take classes in La Casa las Lenguas.
9:30-11:30 am – The first part of our first class, where our professor likes to focus on grammar.
11:30 – 12:00 pm – A short break where students can get a snack in the school’s cafeteria. As anyone else can tell you, I basically get a meal.
12:05 – 1:00 pm – The first class resumes–here, our teacher focuses on conversation and vocabulary.
1:05 – 2:00 pm – Our second class of the day focuses on different aspects of the culture of Spain. We just finished our first module on the history and art of Spain in the 20th Century.
2:00pm – 8:00 pm – This slot varies a little day to day. A lot depends on what day it is, how much work I have, and what Oviedo’s unpredictable weather is like. Here are some options for how I can spend my afternoons:
Explore the city. Whether it be the shops in center of town, the old city near La Catedral de San Salvador, or walking through a park, Oviedo offers a lot if we’re itching for something nearby.
- If we’ve got a lot to do, stop by a café, get some coffee and get to work! My favorite is II Melenio, which is right around the corner from campus and has a bookstore inside.
Go on a hike! El Monte Naranco just north of town offers some relaxing hiking trails and great views of the city.
- Go to the beach! If the weather’s nice and there’s not too much homework, my friends and I can get a bus at the station near my apartment. It’s only about a 20-minute drive.
- Try some Asturian food! My new favorite is cachopo – ham and cheese, deliciously fried.
9:00 pm – After getting back home and relaxing for a bit, I usually have dinner with my host family. Alternatively, I’ll try a new place with friends or go to one of our weekly group dinners.
After – This depends a great deal on the day. Often, I’ll relax in my room, read, and finish up my work if necessary. On weekend nights, it’s great to go out and see Oviedo at night!
Saturdays are always different, and this past weekend La Universidad de Oviedo offered an excursion to Cangas de Onís. There, we saw its iconic Roman bridge, El parque nacional de Picos de Europa, and La Santa Cueva de Covadonga.
Some other stray observations on differences here:
- Eggs are never eaten during breakfast. Instead, you’ll see them frequently during dinner
- There are vending machines that can serve you hot coffee prepared how you’d like. The U.S. needs to follow.
- There are also snack machines outside on street corners. Super useful.
- Spanish advertisements for junk food will have some text encouraging healthy decisions at the bottom (eat veggies and fruit, get plenty of exercise, etc.) sort of like Surgeon General warnings.
Don’t be fooled – while I understand how things work here a little better now, every day is still a new adventure. I can’t wait to share more with you soon!