Pinch me because I MUST be dreaming
¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?
(Hello! How are you?)
It feels like forever since I’ve last written to you all. This journey has been truly incredible!
Before leaving to study abroad, the Center for International Programs advised all the study abroad students to be sure we enjoy our time abroad and not to spend too much time on social media. In this day and age, it seems we are all always looking down at our phones and missing all that is around us, or that we always feel the need to share every moment of our lives with our friends and family on social media. Well, I suppose I have been trying to listen to the advice we were given. Though I love to write and share my life on social media just as much as the next person, I am trying to savor every moment of my month here in Spain. Thus, I have not been online much lately.
Beyond doubt, Oviedo is a dream. I cannot tell you how many times I have been pinched by friends to see if this is really real! And while the pinches don’t seem real, I now have a ton of bruises!
I will first tell you about the culture here that has been shocking me the most. ¡Qué raro! –> this means, “That’s strange (or weird)” and is an expression I am using almost all day every day. The Spanish truly ENJOY life. They seem to have the crazy idea that life is not only for work work work. Every day you will find them out in the streets until 2, 3, 4 AM and this is normal for the youngest of children, or babies and the older crowds too, even elderly. Kids even play in the parks after dark! Babies go into bars with their parents! There are huge “fiestas” (parties) on weekends all over this area in Asturias, Spain! The parties are like county fairs. There are stages that usually have live music or a DJ pumping the most popular music extremely loud and crowds of people in front, drunk off their you-know-what’s and dancing, smoking, and acting crazy. There are bouncy houses and rides for children to keep occupied, trailers full of hot food, like chorizos and french fries, and wide open spaces with trash scattered from the drunkards and groups of friends drinking and laughing together in these areas where there seems to have been stadiums from the 5th century or something because the land has levels separated with stone structures and stone steps. You can hear fire crackers on the regular, here on Oviedo. And while all stores close on Sundays and early on Saturdays, bars are almost always open and usually very busy. Drive around this area and you will see people smoking, drinking, laughing and enjoying life almost all the time!
That is, unless it is siesta time. Ay, such pain it is to be an American from New York during siestas. Everything closes at about 2/2:30PM every day until around 4PM. Not to mention, the Sunday closings. I still get frustrated when I need to buy something, like let’s say, toilet paper or deodorant or a blanket for the beach. I constantly have to remember that oh wait, it’s siesta time, nothing’s open, or oh wait, it’s Sunday, I’m screwed for a beach blanket.
I know, I know how can I complain when I’m in Spain? Well, it’s been quite an adjustment here but I absolutely love it. Why should people have to work on Sundays? Why not have nap time every day to rejuvenate your body? Why not enjoy the summertime out in the street with your children and elderly all night long? Don’t we say YOLO in The United States all the time? Heyy now, Spain is where it’s at!
Here is a few more cultural differences I’ve noticed:
- Women often go topless at the beach.
- It is legal to drink alcohol at 16 years old and to purchase alcohol at 18 years old.
- The Spanish eat bread with EVERYTHING.
- In Oviedo, they are very clean. I believe it is the cleanest city in all of the country. They clean the streets with water and/or soap every night. They collect garbage every night. There is a very precise garbage system. They collect organic food garbage containers (with excess food that you’ve thrown out) separately, paper and cardboard separately, plastics separately and glass separately (I believe there are certain days of the week for each but they’re very strict with it). They also have special places in which to dispose of cloth and electronics. I know the United States recycles in a similar manner but here, it is enforced, like you don’t have any other option but to comply. They take great pride in their city. Trash cans are available everywhere and I have yet to see anyone litter (with exception of the drunks at the fiestas I mentioned before– yet the area will be super clean the following morning).
- Education is a bit different. I may do another blog just on education but the most notable difference is the cost of College or University. It is approximately 600€ (about $659) per year for college here. Most students do not dorm, it is strange to them that we send our children off to study. Most students attend university close to home and/or if they must travel far, they’ll find a cheap place to share an apartment with a friend.
- The Spanish humor is different. It’s such fun though, I must say. My host father explained it to me this way: The Spanish like to talk about everything in the opposite way of what they actually mean. For example, if you like the food you are eating you don’t say that it is good. You say it’s terrible, really bad or that you’ve never had worse! I tell my host dad that he is the worst person I’ve ever known and that I hate Spain and that I’ve never lived in such a trashy place!
I could go on forever about this wonderful country, but I must save some for next time! I’ve only got about one week left and I really don’t want to leave! But hey, if this is a dream, anything is possible, right?