¡Bienvenidos!

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The rainbow we saw as we were driving into Oviedo!

Here in Oviedo at La Casa de Las Lenguas, students attended their first full week of classes about a week ago. Before I start talking about the beautiful city of Oviedo, I want to rewind to our week in Madrid, which was full of wonderful excursions in and around the city. When we first arrived at Hotel Asturias, we needed to wait a while until we could check in, so we had a chance to explore some local shops and try to familiarize ourselves with this foreign city. At first, it felt as if we were on vacation and were only going to be in Spain for a short time. It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we are actually going to be staying here for a whole semester!

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Segovia Cathedral, the last Gothic cathedral to be built in Spain.

As we wondered the streets of Madrid, it seemed very touristy which was expected. It was the first time I was fully immersed into the Spanish language, which was very overwhelming but exciting! From the many stares and pauses in conversation from the locals, it was obvious that we stuck out…a lot. It was like we had “estadounidenses” (people from the United States) written across our foreheads. I figured this was something we needed to get used to. The typical spot for Temple students to go for some café con leche y postres was a little café called “Nebraska.” This is where our Spanish was put to the test. If you can’t order, you won’t eat…and we all know that no one’s happy when that happens. Luckily, we were able to get our thoughts across and converse across language boundaries.

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Hilltop view of Toledo.

There were various day trips planned for the group including trips to Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, and el Museo Nacional del Prado.  All of these places were filled with rich history, and to be able to walk down the streets of such beautiful cities with breathtaking views was unforgettable! Our tour guide, Gerry, who traveled with us to these places was basically a walking encyclopedia. He knew all there was to know about the places we visited and was ready to answer any questions we had.

We were lucky enough to be in Spain for el Dia de Los Reyes on January 6th. This translates to “Three Kings Day” or “Epiphany.” It is an important holiday for Spain where the kids receive gifts, just like it is in the United States during Christmas. To celebrate, there was a parade the night before, and the streets were filled with so many people that it was almost impossible to move through the crowd!

After being in Oviedo for about two weeks now, we are all settled in with our host families and trying to get used to a different lifestyle. My host parents are kind, hospitable people and are very forgiving of my less-than proficient speaking skills. But I know and hope that it will slowly improve. I’m a foodie, and I am being spoiled with delicious, traditional Spanish comida cooked by my host mom, Mariluz. Aside from meals, you can never go wrong with a plate of tapas and a table of friends

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Mike, Gerry (our tour guide), and Lucas posing in Ávila.

Not only are my host parents nice, but mostly everyone from Oviedo that I have talked to is friendly. I can’t count the number of times I have gotten lost and needed a local’s help finding my way back home. They will physically walk with you to where you need to be. I can definitely get used to the calm pace of Oviedo, and I look forward to experiencing all it has to offer!

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