OVIEDO! My home for almost 8 weeks now! It’s been an extremely busy month of incredible highs and a few lows. So let’s rewind…
Firstly, there was Welcome Week set up by ESN – Erasmus Student Network. (There’s not really a Freshers week here for Spanish students, this was set up solely for Erasmus).ESN is an extremely helpful organisation that create social activities, nights out, trips… whatever, for Erasmus students (they’re all over Europe). Here in Oviedo we had a fun filled first week. We were given a tour of the city, we saw the old town, some impressive architecture, Woody Allen’s statue, La Gorda (a statue of a rather large woman in Plaza Escandalera) and another oddly shaped statue… Yeah no clue.
THEN I went on a hike up an impossibly steep mountain called El Cristo where at the top is a large statue of Jesus, not dissimilar to the one in Rio. This is entirely out of character for me, I can step foot in an air conditioned, clean, if slightly sweaty gym but braving the outdoors and nature is a whole other ball game. Dare I say it… I enjoyed it. It was such a nice way to see the city and the surrounding area and it’s also a great to be able to say “I got a selfie with Jesus!”
After a good ol’ hike the next thing on the agenda was EL BOTELLON. Botellon is an entirely Spanish thingymajiggy. It’s basically a massive pre-drinks and something that all young Spaniards do before a heavy night out. It starts around 11/12 and carries on until about 2/3am when they all start going out. It’s usually in a large open space (like a park) where there’s tons of people and tons of calimocho (wine and coke, the Spaniards vodka coke) and Sangria. The alcohol is kept in massive buckets of ice cold water to keep your drinks fresh while you all chat in groups. In Oviedo we went to Parque Invierno which was on the other side of town to the uni, there was a lot of sangria and I have to say, it was great. And memorable. SO memorable.
Then there was a tapas night, where we all tried some great Asturian food and consumed copious amounts of Sidra. The next day, having had just a taste of the local food I tried the famous Asturian FABADA. It was fabulously delicious and rich and warming and OHMYGOD my mouth is watering right now. It’s basically a stew with fatty meat, chorizo and merluza (Spanish black pudding).
After being properly welcomed by ESN it was now time to properly get started on sorting out uni stuff.
Okay, admin in Spain is awful. I’d heard about Spanish bureaucracy before I went, having read blogs by other Erasmus students. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how awful it actually is.
STEP 1: REGISTERING WITH THE UNI
The first thing to do was to go to the International office, this was pretty well organised for Spain. It’s situated in the centre of town about 10 minutes away from Campus Milan (where the humanities and arts subjects are based). My flatmate Erica and I went armed with our learning agreements (Erasmus+ and the one from UniOvi) and the student application and whatever else we thought we might need and we registered with the Uni. SUCCESS!
STEP 2: ERASMUS GRANT STUFF
I would recommend getting the confirmation of start signed at the same time as registering, as well as the annex form. We didn’t do this. So we had to return and do that again. This was after San Mateo where we’d had probably too much fun. San Mateo is the fiesta day in Oviedo and it was crazy busy but an absolute hoot. An incredible welcome from an incredible city. There’s music and people…
There’s also movies in the park! I ended up seeing Gru (Despicable me) in the park with a ton of children. That was a highlight.
ANYWAYS BACK TO THE 4 STEP PLAN!
STEP 3: CHOOSING YOUR COURSES
This was a PAIN. We were given no direction, no mycampus. Erica and I ended up wishing for mycampus. Never thought that would happen. Trawling through the Uni Ovi website I found the “Horarios” (timetable) – there’s a link for the arts campus (unsure about the other campuses) and the “Grados” (information about all the degrees and mix of subjects they offer). I chose Spanish language courses and a couple of translation courses since I felt that first term was about developing my language. If UniOvi is your choice and you want some further advice choosing courses, don’t hesitate emailing me. You can choose any course you want, within reason!
STEP 4: ENROLLING ON YOUR COURSES
Bring everything you have relating to Erasmus/Uni, whatever. The lady that sorts out the Erasmus students (yep, there’s only one lady), is pretty disorganised. She’s LOVELY but yeah, it’ll take a while for you to get sorted. There is a specific time for enrolling for international students, 10-12, arrive there early, before 10! Waiting in the Admin building for over 2 hours for an official stamp was a pain, just because I arrived at 10:05.
Right! SO you’re enrolled. Fabulous. You’re attending classes and you don’t understand anything? That’s okay and completely normal. Make friends with Spanish people and get a TANDEM! Tandems are a great way of meeting somebody likeminded. I have a tandem who wants to learn English so we meet for an hour for a coffee and for half an hour we talk in Spanish and the other half an hour we talk in English.
SHOULD I WORK ON ERASMUS?
I definitely think it’s a good idea, earning some money on my year abroad feels GREAT. I recommend getting a teaching or a tutoring job if you’re a native English speaker, they are in high demand in Spain and pretty easy to find! I work at a language school called Callan, teaching children and adults. It’s an interesting method of teaching English; they use books where you have to read out questions and feed pre-prepared answers to the students. It’s fast paced, relatively easy to get to grips with and thoroughly enjoyable to teach.
I really like it here. It’s a lovely place to be and I finally feel like I’m settled in.
Firstly, because it’s just so DARN pretty. Not too dissimilar to Escocia.
And also because I found some Worcestershire sauce in the Supermarket which made me really excited.
Plus I think I found the man of my dreams in Leon but perhaps I’ll have to fight Erica for him…
Vale, estoy hecho de polvo. I’m exhausted. What a long post eh?
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