Monday, April 20th, 2009
I saw Marcy´s comment and I realized that I put up pictures of my new apartment, but I failed to mention the switch! Yes I switched apartments 2 days before I went on my Spring Break trip with mom and dad. I´m now much much closer to the center of town and getting around has been a million times easier. I am no longer living with a family, instead I am living with 2 Brazilians and 1 Uruguayan. The Brazilians are two girls who are also international students here at Oviedo and the Uruguayan is a woman in her early 30´s who works in Gijón. I also have internet and a desk, which is really handy as a student :) . The desk is pressboard on two sawhorses (you can see it in my photos) but hey it beats doing my work on a twin-sized bed as I was doing. The apartment itself is ridiculously big... in total there are 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a giant kitchen, giant family room, porch type deal, and like a million closets. And somehow, with such great location, functional equipment, internet, huge room, etc., the rent is only €200 a month! Of course that doesn´t include my food expenses, but considering the rent was €575 a month to live with a host family in a small room, no internet, on the outskirts of the town, I totally scored. The obvious downsides are: I have to cook, clean and do all the chores now. But totally worth it I say. The family was extremely helpful the first month or so as far as getting my bearings, learning Spanish to a functional level and trying the local cuisine (of Ham, Bread, Cheese, Potatoes, and Olive Oil haha). A higher level of independence for sure. My roommates are all extremely nice and the apartment is very well kept!
Food expenses run maybe €25-30 weekly. Not too sure yet on that because I´ve only been in the apartment a week and a half or so... However there is one supermarket where you can get great deals on pretty much everything and it´s the second closest supermarket to my apartment so I try to go there.
So yes new apartment, it´s great, I have my own bathroom. Enough said.
I´ve been buying the paper everyday because it´s great language practice, there´s some pretty sweet puzzles and sudokus, and the international section provides an interesting perspective on U.S. issues (as well as other countries). I combine that with cnn.com and I get my daily dose of news, both American and Spanish. Obama is in the paper pretty much everyday, but right now that´s because he was doing the G-20, then he visited some other countries in Europe, and now he´s making the news with his politics during the American countries summit. And there has been an amazing amount of coverage on Bo, the Obama´s dog. Mathieu, another friend of mine from Belgium, put it all in perspective when he said that it´s amazing that the whole world knows the name and story behind the Obama´s dog, I mean, it´s just a dog. It just goes to show how bent on U.S. news the world is. But yeah Bo was on the televisions and in the papers for 2 days.
On a similar note, my fellow Hokie and pro-John McCain friend Bo from South Carolina was rather upset that he now shares his name with Obama´s dog.
Also another interesting note this week, I was visiting my host family on Thursday, and on my way there I was noticing an incredible amount of police standing in the sidewalks. Upon arrival, my host family told me that the King and Queen of Spain were about to pass through Oviedo. They told me (and I remembered Fran had told me this too) that they were on their way to visit an opthamology institute here in Oviedo because apparently the opthamologists there are the best in Spain. Their office is up in the mountains just a little bit right on the outside of town, but long story short, I got to see the King and Queen of Spain´s motorcade as it passed through the street to this institute where apparently all royalty get their eyes checked out. So that was pretty cool.
I´m working on making more travel plans as we speak. For sure I am going with a bunch of friends to Barcelona to see a home soccer game there (Barça is the best in the Spanish league right now! They are also in the semifinals for the Champions League Cup which is coming to a close here shortly). We wanted to go see them play Real Madrid (translates to Royal Madrid), their rivals in early May, but the game is incredibly expensive, minimum €325 I saw. So I think our choices are... Villareal and Osasuna, two teams that Barça will probably destroy.
On that note, I´ve been watching an immense amount of soccer, considering it´s one of the few sports they broadcast here. It´s soccer, formula 1 (there´s a famous driver from Oviedo, Fernando Alonso, hence the coverage), sometimes tennis, and sometimes european basketball. But usually just soccer because there´s so many games. Also in the papers it´s these sports, PLUS! from the NBA the Lakers, Grizzlies and Heat, because those three teams have Spanish players. The most famous being Pau Gasol from the Lakers, his brother plays for the Grizzlies and I forget who plays for the heat (I think it´s the Heat at least...). So it´s interesting to get random American sports coverage depending on the consistency of the team.
I am also looking at going to Pamplona for la Fiesta de San Fermin aka Running of the Bulls. We´ll see though because I am still trying to form a group.
Also I am looking into setting up a small trip through some major cities in Europe with some friends. I am looking to do the trains/hostal to keep it on the cheap.
We´ll see though! It´s a bit early and nothing is definite yet. The hardest part is finding a group of friends that are interested in the same places. Seeing as how the majority of my friends are European they have an agenda of their own, and many aren´t traveling, just going home once the semester is over. My American friends have decided they want to go to Andalucia (southern Spain) and Morocco, but I would rather see the rest of Europe instead so I probably won´t go with them. I know I have at least one friend interested in doing the major cities tour with me, so that will probably happen.
That´s pretty much it... my mom was worried about my lack of cooking skills but so far I am surviving. Proud to say I haven´t yet bought any prepared meals or microwave and go type deals. And proud to say I haven´t gotten sick from my cooking haha. Boy Scout skills at work (aka boiling water). No I do more than that but my skills are still pretty limited. I just make sure to hit all food groups + my daily cup(s) of coffee and bingo good to go. No soda neither. Believe it!!
Culture note for my mom: Check out music artist Melendi. He´s from Oviedo and he has a pretty interesting style I guess. I think it´s boring but you can listen and see if you like it.