Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"My car is here. My car is not here. Where is my car?"

Today, my translation prof, Rodrigo, told us a story about a friend of his who went to England, although he really didn’t speak a whole lot of English. The friend drove from Spain to London, and while he was there, he parked in a tow-away zone. Of course, when he came back, his car was gone. He said to the police officer, “My car is here. My car is not here. Where is my car?” We laughed, not only because this statement was so awkward, but also because we can all relate to this guy!

Anyway, I spent the weekend in Leon and the surrounding area, a few hours south of Oviedo. The pictures below are of Las Médulas (Roman gold mines) and the cathedral in Leon. Both are absolutely amazing...the pictures don't do them justice.

We have a long weekend this weekend, which we're spending in Paris. So, I'm getting up bright and early tomorrow to get on a bus to Madrid, and then a plane to France! I'll be back on Sunday night, and I'm sure I'll have about a zillion pictures to post then!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hola, Asturias

So, classes are well under way, I've started at San Ignacio, and I have only gotten lost in Oviedo once so far! I’ve had a cold for the past couple of days, which is lame, but I’ve noticed that that’s pretty much how I start off every new semester anyway, so no big deal (Sorry, is this boring? When I told one of my friends that I would be doing this blog, he made me promise that I wouldn’t write about boring nonsense, only interesting stories and pictures :-p).

We’ve been exploring Asturias with ESN (exchange student network…the group that organizes all kinds of events and trips). At the end of last week we went to Gijón, a city not too far from Oviedo that’s right on the coast. We took the train from Oviedo, which only cost about 5 Euros round trip (I dream of a day when I can take the train from Buffalo to Rochester for $7…). While we were in Gijón we wandered around and enjoyed the views. In one of the pictures below, there’s a famous sculpture that, if you stand in the middle of, you can hear the echoes of the waves down below.

On Sudnay, we went to Covadonga, a little village up in the mountains where someone decided that it would be a good idea to put a church in a cave (leave it to Spain!). After exploring Covadonga for a while in the morning, we were supposed to go to los Lagos de Covadonga (a scenic area with some lakes even higher up in the mountains) for lunch, but the road was icy and, as our tour guide José said, “if we go up there in the bus, we die”. So, we went shopping for a while instead!

We spent the afternoon in Ribadesella, which is a gorgeous town that’s both on the coast and in the mountains. Since it was a Sunday in the middle of winter, the place was pretty quiet and not a lot was going on, but we climbed up to the scenic viewpoint and took all kinds of pictures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vistas de Oviedo

Right now I’m getting settled in Oviedo…figuring out my class schedule and making arrangements for my internship at San Ignacio. On Monday morning, we walked about a half hour to school together, where they herded all of the American students into a lecture hall so that we could watch a presentation on the program here and take a Spanish placement test. After class on Tuesday, we went on a tour of Oviedo with a whole bunch of other international students. It was great because we got to meet a bunch of people and take pictures of everything.

Today, we went with the same group to hike up one of the mountains just outside the city to the statue of Jesus. When I was in Taxco, Mexico last summer we did the same thing, but we took a taxi (and by taxi I mean a mini-van with no doors) as far up the mountain as we could. This time we walked all the way from the center of Oviedo, through the outskirts of town, and along the side of the road through the woods for about 2 hours. Along the way we saw a small palace and church from the 9th century. We got to the top just in time for a gorgeous sunset, and the views were great.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bienvenidos a España, & Felices Reyes!

I know this post is kind of delayed because the Internet was slow in Madrid and hard to find for a while in Oviedo. The past few days have been an insane blur of getting over jet lag, enjoying Madrid, and preparing to go to Oviedo. After a couple delays and an MIA flight attendant, we all arrived with all of our luggage on Wednesday morning, and then we went to the hostel where we were staying in Madrid. It was on the 8th floor of a building on the Gran Via, so we had a great view. The Christmas season was still in full swing in Spain, since Januray 6th is Three Kings Day (the day when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, and the day when gifts are exchanged here), and all the streets were decorated.

When we first arrived we went to lunch at el Museo de Jamón, where Dr. Wescott (the Spanish prof from Canisius who comes on this trip every semester) gave us tons of advice, including how to say all kinds of words in Spanish, how to eat like a European (hold your knife in your right hand and your fork upside down in your left….I still haven’t figured this out) and what to do if the toilet doesn’t work (it has a motor, so unplug it, wait a second, then plug it back in).

We spent a few days waling all over Madrid. We saw the Royal Palace as well as el Prado and la Reina Sofia (both art museums). We also went to the movies to see También la Lluvia (two thumbs up!) When we weren’t walking or site-seeing, we were sampling all kinds of Spanish food. The best were the pastries and orange juice we had for breakfast at La Mallorquina, a well-known bakery at the Puerta del Sol.

This afternoon we took a 5-hour bus ride to Oviedo to meet our host families. The ride was pretty much uneventful. When we got off at the exit for Oviedo, Dr. Wescott asked us as if we were nervous as we all frantically tried to pack our things up and make ourselves look presentable after sleeping on a bus. We all answered that YES we were very nervous, and she laughed and said, “I love this part of the trip!”. Fair enough, I’m sure that when I look back on it I will too.

My host mother is Conchita, a single woman with three grown children who lives in a cute little apartment in a nice part of town. She is a very friendly, makes a great tortilla española, and I can understand almost everything she says. Life is good.

This week we’ll work towards getting settled; we’ll start classes, make arrangements to help teach English at San Ignacio (a Catholic school just outside the city), learn our way around, etc. As Conchita said, vas a aprender todo, paso a paso… you’ll learn everything, one step at a time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

¡A viajar!

On Tuesday morning I'm leaving to spend this semester in Oviedo, Spain. So, after nearly a full day of airports and flying and a few days sight-seeing with the group from Canisius in Madrid, I'll be heading north and staying with a host family while taking classes at the University of Oviedo. I plan on posting pictures and updates about whatever this semester has in store for me.

The past couple of days have been all about turning this:

into this:

Hasta luego!