i did a study abroad once | sunday stories #1

This is the first post in a Sunday series I’m doing. I’ll be telling my adventures from my  time studying abroad during a summer in college. Back then, I started my first blog (which has since been deleted) and it’s fair to say I didn’t post as consistently as I wanted to while in Spain. Now, I feel it’s time to bring back those vintage posts starting now!

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I’d always wanted to visit Spain. My ancestors hail from the Northeast region aka The Basque Country near San Sebastián and I was drawn to the country and the culture from a young age. When my Spanish teacher during spring semester of my fourth year in college mentioned that he led a partial summer-intensive study abroad in Northern Spain, I was instantly intrigued. He highly encouraged me to apply. So I did.

Spoiler Alert: I got into the program and was both ecstatic and nervous to be going on such a grand adventure. A group of about 30(?) students from the University of Utah (my school) were going to be traveling and studying together. This structure made me feel a LOT better. Plus, my Spanish teacher was leading the trip which also added to the comfort level of the whole excursion.

You see, at this point, the only time I had been out of the country was to go to a week-long summer camp in Canada. So Europe was a whole new world as far as I was concerned. I needed an adult who knew what they were doing to guide me (and everyone else) through said new world.

We had several pre-trip meetings so we could get to know our fellow travelers and plan flights accordingly so we wouldn’t be navigating alone. Again, more comfort before the discomfort began.

I studied in Oviedo, Spain, which is in the Northern region of the country and about a 30 minute bus ride to the northern coast. If you’ve seen “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” you might have heard of the city. Side Note: Woody Allen loves Oviedo so much they have a statue dedicated to him. True story, see below.

Though you may have never heard of this city or consider it a tourist town, it is for Spaniards. Oviedo is the capital city in the region of Asturias. From what I was told, this is the place where the Spaniards won their first battle in taking back Spain from Franco. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m going based off what my Host Grandma told me!) Hence why this is such a big attraction for Spaniards.

Oviedo is the chosen city for this particular study abroad program because Americans don’t visit, usually. AKA English isn’t widely spoken. Which means when you’re struggling to order a Spanish Tortilla (also known as the greatest thing besides wine to come out of the country), you are forced to find the words in Spanish to complete your order. This is the best way for your brain to learn and store a new language, to be thrown into the scenario and just do it. I guess this is why they call it an “intensive.”

The program was about a month and a half long, which was perfect for someone who couldn’t see themselves dedicating an entire summer to living abroad away from my friends and social life in Utah. Looking back on it now, however, I wish I would have spent more time in a study abroad program. Such is life!

Overall, you must know that this trip absolutely changed my life. I got to make some amazing friends, see a beautiful part of Spain I would have never considered visiting, travel to the small, mountainous village where my great-grandfather was born and finally have my own sort of “Midnight in Paris” adventure with my family. Most importantly, on this trip I discovered that I am a writer through and through.

I’m excited to share my adventures, thoughts and vintage blog posts with y’all over the next few weeks. The idea of revisiting them and providing fresh insight is also very exciting to me, so, stay tuned!

I also highly recommend you listen to the song “Oviedo” by Blind Pilot. While there is an Oviedo in Florida, the lyrics of this song convinced us that it was, in fact, written about Oviedo, Spain. Plus, I love it and it reminds me of my time there!

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Read post #2 here!