Thinking back on it, I would have to say my trip to Spain has been the most incredible experience of my life, so far. I have never had more fun, more crazy times, or more life-changing experiences than I did in that five weeks. Let’s be honest: school is school. It’s not all that different whether it’s in Europe or America, though I did love all of my instructors. The most memorable parts of my trip, though, were the times I spent with my amazing host family. I couldn’t have asked for better people to interact with, learn from, and live with.
My host family was absolutely wonderful and I can’t say enough good things about them. They were honestly the best people I could have ever been placed with and it’s because they really felt like my family. They cared for me when I was sick, helped me with my homework, took me shopping, and bought my favorite foods for me to put in my suitcase and take back home. I would also have to say that my experience with my “familia española” was probably made a bit easier due to the aid of their seventeen-year-old son, Oscar. Oscar spoke the tiniest bit of English, and was sometimes able to translate when the message just wasn’t being received.
There were so many fabulous things to do in Oviedo! Most places were well within walking distance for me, since I lived right behind the train station and right near the bust station. El Parque San Francisco was only a ten-minute walk from me, and the Catedral only a fifteen-minute walk. Not only are bars, cafes, and sidrerias plentiful and easy to find, but shopping is always a great option. There are stores, of every kind, all over the city. The most common kind of store in Oviedo seems to be shoe stores. Another nice thing is that there are many interesting places to go outside of the city as well. Gijón is a town only forty minutes away and Llanes is another town that is also not far from Oviedo. Llanes has a sunnier beach and a beautiful surrounding landscape. A favorite place to meet was Kin Café. It had a great atmosphere and fabulous music. It turned out to be a great place to meet friends and do homework, as it was incredibly close to our school campus.
The Spanish food I’d tasted was beyond delicious, but I’m not the best person to ask about food, because I couldn’t/didn’t eat most of it. I’m a vegan, and even though I adhered to a vegetarian diet while abroad, my experiences with the cuisine were quite limited. I was lucky to have a great cook for a host dad. He cooked up all sort of new dishes for me to taste. Cream of zucchini soup, garbanzo soup, rice with boiled vegetables and pimiento. I’m a HUGE Thai food-lover and,as you may have guessed, there’s not much Thai food in Spain. While that was an incredibly disappointing discovery, I enjoyed all of the things that I was able to eat - like croissants, pastries, and churros. I did, however, find a nice mediterranean restaurant in the middle of the city, called King Doner Kebab. I visited the establishment three or four times during my five-week stay and I can say that I became a favorite of the owner. He frequently gave me a free drink or plate of food (probably because I brought many friends in) and he would always give me and my companions candy, even if we’d only stopped by to say, “hello.” If you like sea food, though, you’re in luck! There’s tons of fresh sea food, especially if you happen to be traveling to or through Barcelona.
Travel to and from Spain was absolutely insane. Luckily, I was able to get around my dismay about my travel issues and have a great time. While I won’t be going to an airport, getting on a plane, or traveling any long distances for a VERY long time, I don’t regret any of my time in Europe or how I came to be there. I will say this and then be done with talk of travel: PREPARE and confirm your flights ahead of time. Don’t wait until you’re at the airport for them to say that all of your flights home have been cancelled!
I would have to say that my time spent in Spain was well worth the money, risk, problems, and anything else! I can’t wait to return someday to visit my, now, second home and second family. I also can’t wait to get back to school in the Fall semester and continue to learn and improve my Spanish. Hopefully the next time I see Oviedo I will be able to converse fluently with all its awesome people!