Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Como un cuento de hadas

Oviedo and Woody Allen are pretty big fans of each other, so this statue is right in the middle of the city center:

The phrase in front of him translates to something like
"Oviedo is a delicious, exotic, beautiful, clean, enjoyable, calm, and pedestrian-friendly city. It's as if it doesn't belong to this world, as if it doesn't exist....Oviedo is like a fairy tale"

That pretty much sums it up.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Q&A about life in Oviedo: I'm only a little bit confused and sunburnt.

How are you doing with the Spanish?

A couple weeks ago I went to a café where I had NO IDEA what the waiter was saying. Not a clue. Sometimes, one of the teachers at San Ignacio will say something, and all the kids will laugh, because apparently whatever they said was funny, and I sit there awkwardly either not understanding the joke or not understanding why it was funny. But, these instances are becoming fewer and farther between, and in general I understand everything enough to at least know what’s going on.

Have you been homesick?

Yes and no. I didn’t actually call home until a couple weeks into the semester, partly because communicating by email is generally enough, and partly because my brother the yearbook editor doesn’t let anyone at home use Skype when he’s working on it on the computer on Sunday afternoons (yeah, that’s how important I am to him! Do you blame me for not calling? :-p ). There are times when I miss home/Canisius and my family, and there are things about the US that I miss (little things, like bagels and Dugan’s never-ending hot water come to mind), but everything will be there when I get back!

What’s one thing you left home that you wish you brought?

Sunscreen. No, I don’t know what I was thinking.

A lot of people have asked about the food here, which I feel deserves a post of its own. Also, I'm going to Santiago de Compostela next weekend, so stay tuned :-p

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Q&A about life in Oviedo, Part 1

I've been wanting to write a couple entries on what it's like to actually live in Oviedo now that thing's have settled down (sort of). So, I'm stealing the idea from a fellow blogger to post some of the questions that I've gotten from people back home along with my answers. I'll try not to bore you to death (although apparently people are reading, because this page has had about 30 views since I put the little hit-counter up about 24 hours ago. Who are you people??).

Have you realized you’re actually staying for a while, and not just on vacation?

Wait, what? This is real life?

I mean, I’ve been here for about a month so I’ve (pretty much) gotten used to life here. I have kind of a day-to-day life with classes, San Ignacio, time at home, time with friends…something that has started to resemble a routine. But then I’ll do something like to a long weekend trip to Paris, or something “strange” (I still just want to eat lunch at noon!!), or I see something like this:

That says “OH HEY YOU’RE IN SPAIN!", and I have trouble believing that this is real life.

How’s the weather?

I realize this is kind of obnoxious if you’re somewhere like Canisius, where it’s feezing and you know you’ll never get a snow day, but the weather is SO NICE HERE. Right now it’s sunny and close to 60. People still look at me funny when I go out without a coat, but whatever. Before I got here, I was told how much it rains in Oviedo, but I haven't really seen it yet (yeah, I know. It'll rain tomorrow because I said that).

What are classes like?

Classes are a lot less stressful here than at Canisius. They're all Spanish classes, taught in Spanish, with other exchange students, so I’ve met people from all over the world. I hardly have any homework, and when I do, it’s something fun like translating a scene from Friends (you can laugh at my use of the word fun, I don't care...I'm the one in Spain :-p). The classes themselves can be boring sometimes (because, you know, they're classes), but other times we do things like take field trips to the 1000 year old church down the road.

I'll post more later. If you have any questions, please ask!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nous nous sommes perdues a Paris...

We (3 friends from Canisius and I) left Oviedo bright and early on Wednesday morning for a long weekend (plus a couple days) in Paris. We took that 5-hour bus ride to Madrid, where we caught our flight to Paris. In Europe, there are a handful of budget airlines that are very reasonably priced. There is a catch to this system, however, in that there are no assigned seats on the plane, which results in what is kind of an intense free-for-all for finding a decent seat and space in the overhead compartment.

When we arrived in Paris, we went around the terminal in circles for a little while, trying to figure out where we were supposed to go to get the train to our hostel. When we finally found where we were supposed to be, we bought what we thought were the appropriate tickets, but then we couldn’t get through the turnstile at the platform (we still had a lot to learn about trains in Paris at this point). So, I went up to the guy at the information desk, showed him my ticket, and asked him how to get on the train. In half French, half English, he explained to me that we had bought would only work within the city (go figure) and that the train that we wanted wasn’t available that night for some reason that I didn’t understand. Anyway, we ended up taking a taxi to the hostel.

We spent the next few days we ran all over the city sightseeing / asking for directions then wandering around in circles as we tried to follow them (Dear France, please label things!). We were feeling pretty lost and confused when we were first starting out, and then we turned around and saw this:

The Eiffel Tower. In real life.

It's great when the thing you're looking for is extremely tall and recognizable! When we found the Eiffel Tower, we climbed up to the second level, but we couldn't go to the very top because it was too windy.

Then we headed over to Notre Dame, which is the epic kind of place that makes you feel very very tiny. We also went to the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, which is absolutely massive. We spent a few very overwhelming hours there, where we saw lots of Greek and Roman statues, the Mona Lisa, and all kinds of other art.

We visited Sacré Coeur, the basilica in Paris that is home to an amazing view of the city and the most assertive con-artists I've ever encountered. Then we went over to the Opera House, which is great whether you're a Phantom of the Opera fan or not.

And finally, we visited the palace & gardens of Versailles, which is about a half hour train ride outside the city. Like most of the places we visited, Versailles is unbelievably huge and elegant. It's overflowing with gold, art, giant chandeliers, and mirrors.

I could definitely have stayed in Paris a little while longer. There was so much to take in, and just as I was learning my way around and getting more comfortable speaking French, it was time to leave. I am very happy to be back in Oviedo though. Also, I realize I've just written around the same amount about one weekend in France as I have about one month in Oviedo. However, living in Oviedo has started to feel more like "real life" (or something like that), so I will be sure to write more about life here in the near future.