¡Hola de Oviedo! Today marks one week since Temple’s Summer in Spain program began. For the past 7 days, I have been experiencing Spanish culture first hand, through short trips with Temple students and professors, classes with people from around the world, and time spent with my caring host mother.
The first few days of my trip were spent in Madrid. During a brief orientation, all the Temple in Spain students met the program director, toured the city, and got some much-needed rest. We started to become more comfortable speaking Spanish to one another and visited some of the most historic sites in Spain. Almost before we knew it, it was time to travel to Oviedo and to meet our host families.
Once in Oviedo, I became fully immersed in Spanish life. I speak with my host mother about Spain, its history and the customs of the region. I have learned so much already, but I know there are many more things I will learn in the coming weeks.
Though I completed some preliminary research on Spanish culture before leaving the United States, Spain has brought me many surprises. I have compiled a short list of some of the most surprising aspects of life in Spain below.
1) The history
Having lived near Philadelphia my entire life, I always thought that I had a profound sense of history. Growing up next to the Liberty Bell made me think that 1776 was a very long time ago. Yet, after learning about some of the histories of Spain, I feel a bit naïve.
The cultures of Spain are deeply rooted in the lives of the Spanish people. Each custom is embedded in centuries of Spanish life. It seems like every region, city, neighborhood, and building has some sort of valuable cultural significance. In Oviedo, buildings that are older than the United States casually line the streets of the historic district. It is stunning to see the history of Spain in everyday life.
While I was packing for study abroad, I somehow forgot that Spain is a massive country. Like most large countries, Spain has several different regions with various weather patterns. Oviedo is not hot all the time. Actually, it is known for cool weather with some drizzles (think mid-April in Philadelphia). It’s hot enough that I don’t need a sweater, but cool enough that I can wear long pants.
Spain, unlike what you may have heard, is not actually hot all of the time. While Madrid is going through a historic heat wave at the moment, with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Oviedo so far hasn’t reached temperatures over 70 degrees.
3) Pace of life
It seems like everything in Spain takes much more time than in the United States. While I am sure this isn’t true everywhere in the country, in the places that I’ve been, things move much more slowly. Spain feels more relaxed than America.
Here, meals take multiple hours, taking a break to nap in the middle of the day is normal, and staying up past midnight is common. In America, I eat quickly, rarely take naps, and go to bed early. I hadn’t expected Spanish culture to contrast so starkly with my daily routine. However, I am enjoying the more leisurely pace of life.
Over the course of the next month, I will continue taking classes at La Universidad de Oviedo and learning about Spain through my host family. I’ll keep blogging to document my journey.
Hasta luego, Ali