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.