Our Monthly Dinner


Every month here in Oviedo, our program director Jaime organizes a group dinner for all of us to get together, catch up and eat good food. Here’s photos from our recent dinner at La Marimorena:

DSC_5322La Marimorena, one of the prettiest restaurants in all of Oviedo.

DSC_5351A huge, diverse seafood platter made for sharing.

DSC_5353Students getting ready for a feast.

DSC_5359Students taking their first cracks at the massive seafood smorgasbord.

DSC_5366Students catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

DSC_5396Junior Emma digging into some tasty seafood.

DSC_5399More yummy food served up fresh for some hungry college students.

DSC_5400Senior Max getting ready to dive into some delectable ice cream.

DSC_5426Simply delicious.

DSC_5446Students playing cards and enjoying the night well after dinner is over.


Hiking in Oviedo

Hiking in Oviedo

This past week, I discovered perhaps my favorite thing about Oviedo—its surrounding nature and outdoor opportunities. Living in Oviedo, we are situated in the extremely mountainous principality of Asturias. I had heard rumors that the hiking around these parts was phenomenal, but it took experiencing a day trip for myself to realize how amazing it really is.

Over the weekend, a group of 6 of us from Temple decided to seek out a trail called “La Ruta de Las Xanas,” or “the route of the fairies.” My host mom had been encouraging me to explore Oviedo’s surrounding nature for weeks, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally jump on this opportunity. Before going on the hike, she made sure to give me all the background information and history of the area. I was pretty excited to see it for myself, because she made it sound pretty magical. There is a lot of folklore in Oviedo’s culture, and according to legend, these mountains are home to “las xanas,” or the fairies.

Getting to the hike couldn’t have been easier—a local bus passes right by the head of the trail, and all we had to do was alert the bus driver to where we were going. I found this pretty cool, since I don’t know of any buses where I’m from back home that take you straight to a hiking trail! The ride was only about 40 minutes, although I have to warn anyone who’s thinking of taking this trip in the future to take some motion sickness medication first… the route twisted and turned quite a bit, and let me just say we were all ready for some fresh air when we reached the stop!


Temple students at the head of the trail

We couldn’t have had more perfect hiking weather. It was nearly 70 degrees, the sun was shining, and there was a slight breeze. After only about 5 minutes of hiking we reached the main trail, and we were all pretty awestruck. Before coming that day, a friend from school had given me these words of advice: “Just don’t fall off!” He of course was only joking, but when I realized we would be hiking next to a cavernous ravine, I stayed as far from the edge as possible…


The winding path of “La Ruta de Las Xanas”

We hiked along this winding trail between two mountains for about 45 minutes before making it to a path in the woods. My favorite thing about the hike was how drastically the landscape changed as we went. In the beginning there were cliffs, in the middle a shady grove, and at the end, a mountaintop meadow like something out of “The Sound of Music.”


We made it to the top!

We all agreed that it was a pretty perfect day, and felt quite accomplished when making it to the tiny village at the top of the mountain. We were greeted by an enormous flock of free-roaming sheep with tinkling cowbells, 3 extremely fluffy and friendly dogs, and a crazy view of where we had just come from. On our hike back to the bus stop, we even saw some mountain goats…


Some mountain goats that got quite close…

As someone who has always felt at home in nature, I was thrilled to discover how exceptional the hiking is around Oviedo. As the weather gets warmer, I have plans to do many more day trips like this, and to experience as much of the countryside here as I can!

Til next week!

Oviedo by Night


Oviedo is a beautiful place by day, and by night. The mountain ranges that surround the town make for a gorgeous dusk, and the urban environment offers plenty of ways to enjoy life at night. Here are some photos of Oviedo by night:

DSC_4553A scenic Oviedo sunset.

DSC_2447Oviedo’s Parque de Invierno during the evening hours.

DSC_2495An empty Oviedo street as dusk turns to night.

DSC_2605Junior Nikki playing pool at Master, a popular bar for young people in Oviedo.

DSC_4001Sophomore Chris digging into some delicious fish while out at dinner.

DSC_4850Students Hannah and Emma enjoying some late night Té Verdes.

DSC_4787Students Nina and Matt enjoying their night at Per Se, an upscale bar in the heart of Oviedo Antiguo.

DSC_4792Students Nina and Matt posing at Per Se.

DSC_4805The packed Calle Mon, Oviedo’s busiest and most electric section for nightlife.

DSC_4866Students Emma, Chris and Jess at the end of a fun night on Calle Gascona.

Missing the Little Things: Know Your Essentials!

Missing the Little Things: Know Your Essentials!

I can still clearly remember sitting in the Education Abroad Office this past November for our group’s information session, discussing how to best prepare for our upcoming journey. We covered various bases and received a wide array of tips ranging from mental preparation exercises to packing suggestions, but there was one piece of advice given that I almost completely overlooked. Jaime made it clear: Bring any sort of personal care items you’re attached to, especially important medications, because these might be tricky to get in Spain. I of course took this part seriously and made sure to bring along any prescription medications that I would need, but beyond that I didn’t think too far. Being a bit type A, I did bring a small bag with an assortment of things like NyQuil and Advil, but nothing that would last more than a few days.

So far during the program, I’ve had 2 colds and occasional allergies as well. This is abnormal for me, thus why I came quite unprepared without thinking twice, but colds have definitely been going around. Some locals say it’s easier to catch a cold here because of the fluctuating weather patterns, but who knows. I never thought I was attached to brands, but let me tell you, I’ve never missed Mucinex, NyQuil, and Halls cough drops more. Don’t get me wrong, they do have plenty of medicine here, and very helpful pharmacists. But there’s something strange about reading active ingredients on a box in another language, even if you know by googling that you’ve found the generic form of the same thing you use back home. Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but I love the cold medicine I’m used to, and I absolutely wish I had brought more along just in case. The same thing goes for cough drops- in general I’ve found that cough drops aren’t very commonly used here, and while I was sick I sorely missed my favorite flavor, Honey & Lemon. Luckily, I found loads of Honey & Lemon cough drops during a trip to Glasgow a few weeks back and made sure to stock up. I also snagged a few boxes of Ginger Tea, another personal favorite that I can’t seem to find in Oviedo.

I also assumed that I would be able to order more of my favorite face wash online after it ran out, but after a few online searches, I realized that the company I use doesn’t ship out of the United States. I then checked Amazon, and learned that because of certain import laws, my U.S. Amazon account wouldn’t ship to Spain either. I was starting to get frustrated—was I even going to get it shipped to me? I spent almost an hour on Google until I found that I could order my product through Amazon France, and I’m pretty sure I checked about 7 other countries’ Amazons before I found one that would ship to Spain! Although I felt silly for “needing” the same old product I’m used to, I think there’s a lot to be said for remaining consistent with the personal care items you’re comfortable with.


A few essentials that I could have brought more of…


I now know that if there’s something I’m pretty attached to, I need to prepare when traveling by bringing enough for the future. Sure, they have everything you need here and more, but there’s something comforting about using personal care essentials you’re used to. In the midst of all the other cultural adjustments, it’s nice to at least drink your favorite flavor of tea or know that you won’t have to spend weeks letting your skin adjust to a new face wash! Leaving behind the things you know is a beautiful part of immersion, but it can’t hurt to bring a few things you rely on back home to make your time just a little bit easier.


León for the Weekend


Not far from Oviedo is the wonderful city of León, which is home to a vibrant community of people and an incredible Tapas culture. Here are photos of a recent weekend trip:

DSC_4618Sophomore Jess posing in León.

DSC_4636The outside of the magnificent Catedral de León.

DSC_4677Students taking in the beautiful weather and scenery of León.

DSC_4686Students enjoying a quick stop at one of León’s many vegetarian/vegan-friendly cafes.

DSC_4713Students deciding on where to head next!

DSC_4720Students posing in the bright León sunshine.

DSC_4724The breathtaking interior of the Catedral de León.

DSC_4763A packed flea market in León.

DSC_4771A park in León with some super cool trees.

DSC_4780One of León’s several lion statues; lions were prevalent all throughout the city!

Beginning to Feel at Home

Beginning to Feel at Home

Yesterday evening I was sitting and chatting with a friend in El Parque de Invierno, a gorgeous park on the edge of Oviedo. Here, sitting on the top of the grassy hill overlooking the park, it’s easy to spend hours passing time and admiring the nearby snow-capped mountains that cradle the city. We were exchanging thoughts about our adjustments to being abroad, and she said: “Yesterday when I returned back here on the bus from Leon, I texted my parents in the U.S. that I was home. When did this place become home, and not just Oviedo?”

We sat pondering this, and started to reminisce about happenings from earlier on in our stay. Heck, moreover, when did it become the middle of our stay, and not the beginning? In just a few short days it will be March, and we will have been in Spain for more than 2 months. We agreed, almost proudly, that perhaps we’ve made it through one of the most difficult parts of studying abroad— what I’ll dub the “getting used to” phase.

Although I can’t speak for everyone in the group, I think I myself can finally say that I’m getting into the swing of things here. There are still many places and things to be discovered, but I walk the streets of the city easily now, rarely relying on my GPS. My walk to school is familiar, as are the group’s favorite spots to grab tapas and a drink on the weekend. I’ve even come to befriend some stray cats that linger around the corner from my apartment building, and to recognize certain strangers on my daily commute. I know the customs within my house here well, am communicating more easily than ever with my host mom, and find myself always looking forward to her go-to meals and our long dinner conversations. Recognizing that things have become more comfortable and routine is a breath of fresh air—what can I say, humans thrive on familiarity!

Yet, as things get more familiar here, I continue to work on finding ways to step out of my comfort zone. Most often, this takes the form of attending some event I’ve seen posted on fliers around the university. This past weekend I went to a free day of yoga that a nearby studio was offering, and it was yet another way to get involved here and experience something new.

Having done a 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2017, I was extremely interested in comparing the yoga culture here to what I know in the states. What I found was actually quite surprising—aside from the obvious difference that the classes, meditations, and Spanish “charlas” (chats on specific subjects) were taught in Spanish, the root of everything was quite similar to what I learned and teach in the U.S. I felt immediately welcomed by the fragrant incense, smiling faces, and free Chai tea and cookies in the studio, and was pretty gratified when I realized I could follow along with the majority of the teacher’s directions during class. I attended the day alone and even made a few friends during breaks, who recommended studios and classes I could attend regularly here in Oviedo.


Free Yoga Class at El Centro de Yoga Ashtanga in Oviedo

As different as things may seem here in Oviedo, I’m coming to see day by day that things may not truly be as different as they appear on the outside (cliché, I know… but true!). Sure, there are handfuls of new customs, foods, and traditions to be experienced and learned (as well as an entire new language, yes), but there’s really not so much to be feared. The longer I’m here, the more I try new things, the more I practice my Spanish, and the more I recognize the connectedness of the world as a whole, the more Oviedo starts to feel like a home away from home.


Carnaval in Oviedo


The celebration of Spain’s Carnaval festivities wrapped up this past weekend in Oviedo. Carnaval, which is very similar to Mardi Gras, involves getting dressed up in costumes, going out & celebrating. Here are some photos of the festivities this past weekend:

DSC_4120Some decorations set up in the Cathedral Square, in preparation for Carnaval.

DSC_4132Store windows full of costumes as Carnaval approaches.

DSC_4145Some day-time prep for the concert in the Cathedral Square.

DSC_4183Performers storming Calle Gascona with drums, flags and costumes.

DSC_4203Calle Gascona fulled with perfomers and onlookers.

DSC_4222Students hanging out in the large groups of young people congregated in Oviedo’s streets.

DSC_4224Students enjoying their night at La Caja.

DSC_4225Students dressed up and enjoying their night.

DSC_4250La Caja, the bar in Oviedo owned and operated by my host dads!

Football or Fútbol?

Football or Fútbol?


So what’s better– football or fútbol (soccer)? Two weekends ago our Temple group was frantically searching for a restaurant or bar that would air the American Super Bowl on February 5th. Of course, to all of us from Philadelphia, it was pretty important that the Eagles were going to be playing in the game. But when we called places to ask if they were airing the “game,” we realized quickly that we needed to specify. The majority of public places that night were swarming with fans, but they weren’t football fans- they were fútbol fans. Apparently, Spain also had a very important match that night. It was pretty lucky when we finally found a place that was going to be airing the Super Bowl, but it was quite funny, because aside from our group and several other international students, the other fans were soccer fans who had just finished watching their own game.

I grew up absolutely adoring soccer. I love many aspects of the game, but perhaps my favorite thing about the sport is its simplicity. You can play almost anywhere, as long as you have something reminiscent of a ball and some posts or goal markers. It’s no surprise that it’s dubbed the “most popular sport in the world,” because it truly is played almost everywhere. Before coming to Spain I knew that there was a large soccer culture here, and I made it one of my goals to attend a professional soccer game.

Mission=accomplished! In class last Wednesday, our program director Jaime said he had 5 free tickets for the next soccer game in Oviedo. When he asked who wanted them, I think my hand was already in the air.

On Saturday afternoon, I made arrangements to meet 4 friends (the others who were also lucky enough to snag a ticket) at the stadium before the game started. They all live across town from the stadium and wanted to take a bus, but I live quite close in city terms, so I elected for the 20-minute walk. For the first 10 minutes my face was buried in my GPS, but at one moment I lifted my head and found myself surrounded by soccer fans donned in blue and white scarves and jerseys. Clearly I was going the right way– no need to waste data on a map. I put my phone away and followed the crowd. Already, still 10 to 15 minutes from the stadium, there was an excited buzz in the air.


Real Oviedo vs. Albacete at the Carlos Tartiere Stadium

Although the Real Oviedo soccer team isn’t in the country’s first division, the players are of course still seasoned professionals and there is nothing short of pure spirit amongst the fans. When I arrived and found my way through the crowd to my friends (thank god for the ability to drop pins on iPhones!), we entered the stadium and climbed up to our seats. The stadium isn’t huge in terms of soccer stadiums, but there were more than 17,000 fans there that night.


Joe and Lucy Enjoying Some Sunflower Seeds

Between cheering along the team as if they were my own, clapping along to the fans’ chants, and eating salted sunflower seeds, I’d say I had a pretty successful first experience at a Spanish soccer game. In the end, neither team scored a goal, but simply soaking in the spirit of the night was exhilarating and more than worth it. I’ve never eaten so many sunflower seeds, or seen so many of their shells on the ground… apparently this is the snack of choice at soccer games here.

Of course it’s not a contest, but if it were… fútbol has my vote all the way. (Sorry, USA!)

My Oviedo Homestay


Throughout the Spring semester, all of us Temple students are living with host families throughout the city of Oviedo. Here are some photos of my homestay, the surrounding neighborhood, and my host dads Pablo & Oskar.

DSC_2181My apartment complex’s outdoor patio area.

DSC_4023My room!

DSC_4037My apartment’s hallway.

DSC_4044The MonteNuño office buildings, right across the street from my apartment building.

DSC_4048The outside of my apartment building.

DSC_4054Some of the gorgeous mountainside that resides right across the street from my apartment

DSC_4073More amazing mountainside right down the street.

DSC_4086My host dads, Oskar and Pablo.

DSC_4103My apartment’s kitchen and dining area.

DSC_4117Me and my host dads!

Lifestyle Takeaways from Oviedo

Lifestyle Takeaways from Oviedo

While I must say that some of the cultural differences here have thrown me for a loop (i.e. adjusting to the new sleeping & eating schedule), there are other differences I’ve found myself quite at home with. Early on in my stay here in Oviedo, and for the weeks that have ensued, I’ve noticed one thing in particular that I’m pretty fond of– the majority of people here seem to be quite environmentally conscious. In the United States, environmentalism seems to be something hopelessly entangled in politics, and more of a personal choice. Here, being extra thoughtful about your energy consumption and your impact on the surrounding world almost seems like a cultural phenomenon.

I say this only after comparing notes with many other students in our group, and I’ve had several conversations about it with my host mom. But of course, like all generalizations, this could just be the specific experience in Oviedo. When I got here, I knew friends were having difficulty adjusting to the fact that their laundry was done at only certain points in the week, or that they were expected to turn lights off behind them in the house. But this lifestyle, for me, is something I’ve been working at honing all my life, and something that gives me a lot of hope about the state of the world. I think it’s safe to say we could all learn something from some of the environmental habits I’ve seen here.

As I mentioned above, the majority of the host families only do their laundry at specific points in the week. I myself re-wear things like jeans and pants pretty often, unless they’ve gotten extremely dirty, and don’t rack up laundry extremely quickly anyway. However, I’m glad to hear that many of my friends are getting used to this adjustment. I’ve also been pleased to see how many people hang their laundry out to dry here. In fact, my host mom told me that most people simply do without drying machines. This might seem contradictory to the weather forecast here (did I mention there’s a lot of rain?), but somehow, most people manage with a clothesline and some sun. This is how my family often dried clothes when I was growing up in rural Lancaster County, but I love that living in a city doesn’t seem to stop anyone here. Here’s an example below- as you can see, there’s some sort of line outside of just about every window.

Apartment Complex Clothesline in Oviedo

Apartment Complex Clothesline in Oviedo


In addition to laundry habits, there is also a general expectation that you won’t shower for too long, especially if you do so every day. During previous travels I learned to cut my consumption down to an every-other day shower (which is great for maintaining healthy hair, too…), but I try to keep in mind that there is always more room to save water. For example, it’s not too big of a sacrifice to simply turn the water off while taking the time to shampoo, and in the long run, it can save quite a lot.

All in all, I’ve felt like I’ve been able to maintain integrity with my own values in terms of the environment during my stay here, which I really appreciate. I’ve been more conscious than ever about turning off lights, shutting doors to save heat, and watching my water consumption– and it feels great. Some of these things are habits I’ve been practicing all my life, but other tricks are new to me, and I’m grateful to be able to take some of these lessons back home with me to the states.