Asturianismos y Estefanismos, Pt. 1

Oviedo Travel Blog

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View from our apartment on Fray Ceferino

Okay, it’s not really a word, but I stole Megan’s idea of ‘-isms’ and attached it to Asturias, and made is sound Spanish.  Classy, eh?

I could write a novel about the last 48 hours of my life here en Oviedo, but let’s just summarize, shall we?  No need to know about every cheese I eat or shower I take.  Well…actually, those could make really entertaining blogs, but we’ll get to those later.

1. I live with Alejandra, a 51 year old (52 on 9 February) divorcee who lives on the 9th floor (top floor) of an apartment in the heart of Oviedo.  We are smack in the center of the centro comercial.  Everything you could possibly need is within two or three blocks of our apartment.  Alejandra speaks very fast and very formal; she is a lover of words as am I…it just so happens to be that I don’t know the fancy words in her language, so last night we sat at the dinner table with two volumes of thesauruses (thesauri?) and looked up words together.  Nerea – the girl I thought would be my host sister – moved in with her boyfriend and is no longer here.  Just Ale and me.  She deserves a blog entry of her own, that cute little quirky lady.  She has no children, but she’d make a great mother for sure.  She’s got a ton of ‘-isms’ of her own.

This is a super quick panoramic view from our balcony.  Did I mention that I was SO SMART and left my brand-spanking-new FujiFilm x10 camera charger plugged in the wall with my extra battery…in my bedroom in UTAH?  Yep.  So right now I’m conserving battery.  Must play at a later date once my beloved gets a moment to mail me my charger, battery, and possibly my brain…

View from our apartment on Fray Ceferino

2. Take everything you learned in school, throw half of it in the trash bin, modify a quarter, and keep the rest.  That’s what will get you by with the Spanish you know (at least if you learned in the Midwest from non-native speakers).  I started keeping a notebook of words I don’t understand.  I need to take a break on this because I find my nose is always shoved in this book and not always enjoying my surroundings…yet I find that when I’m enjoying my surroundings, I look a little glazed over.  I always hated that they taught us Mexican Spanish in school…that’s why I loved learning so much from Luciano (Argentina).  Funny thing is, I’ve been told that I don’t have an American or English accent at all, but that I have an Argentine accent.  Weird!  I bet Argentines would beg to differ, but I’ll take it.

This is how I feel.  The quality isn’t great, but it’s classic.  “Elder, what language was she speaking?…I’m in trouble!”

3. I applaud all who have ever studied abroad or served a mission.  The culture shock itself isn’t hard on me, but the language is!  You’d think Spanish would be so easy.  Good luck!  Of course, I’ve been rusty for a few years…and I think my perfectionism with the language inhibits me a bit, but I promised myself I wouldn’t care about that (and obviously I don’t, you should hear me speak…would make grammar teachers cringe!).  It’s frustrating because I know when I’m making a mistake, but I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t know how to fix it in that moment, but you can’t have that time because you just need to speak.  Maybe for one week I should resolve to speak only in present tense so people think I’m completely incompetent, but I get an awesome vocabulary.  Haha.

4. I’m probably going to die here in Oviedo, and it’ll be from constipation.  Okay, gross, right?  It’s not a problem for me, but what I’m saying is that I’ve eaten so much cheese that it’s coming out my ears.  Not that I’m complaining.  Alejandra doesn’t eat much cheese, yet she’s been eating it with me and has bought a lot for us.  The bonus?  My favorite cheese is Manchego, and I’ve had SO.MUCH. of it.  I mean, in comparison to how much I’ve eaten in the States…I’ve had enough.  Today for lunch we had tapa-style spread…bleu cheese with walnuts (not your mom’s bleu cheese or those nasty crumbles, we’re talking the stuff you buy from Caputo’s cheese cave for $25/lb.), manchego with anchovies (actually so delicious), cabra (goat cheese, but not cabrales), and pan de sonrisa that we purchased two minutes before heading back to our apartments.  Delicious.

5. For not being a pop drinker, I’ve had my share already.  There are about a bajillion types of Coke…our fridge alone has Coke Zero, Coke Light, Coke, and Coke sin cafeína.  I had a Fanta when we went for a little tapa at lunch…brought me back to the first time I had Fanta in Europe – in the Netherlands.

6. No matter how many times you say you don’t drink alcohol, no matter.  You either get a strange look, or you get a glass poured anyway.  I’m usually the one who loves to partake in culture whatever it may include, but having previously been an enjoyer of alcohol (hace muchos años), and having previously been a bit of a wino, I definitely stand much more firm on saying no-thank-you.  I had a small, small sip the first night after explaining to Alejandra that I do not drink, and why, and she insisted on pouring me a small bit.  I didn’t want to offend, so I let it pass my lips a bit, but that was it.  Aside from choosing not to drink, with the dehydration and jet lag I probably would’ve passed out for 20 hours.  Today when we had a tapa, I realized that it was much cheaper to buy wine or non-alcoholic beer (1 euro!) than pop.  Ale asked if I like sangria.  DO I LIKE SANGRIA?  Is the Pope Catholic?  Does a bear poop in the woods???  I explained to her that I learned a recipe for non-alcoholic sangria.  Her face was classically confused.  Do I like sangria?  Ay, madre.  Too bad, so sad!  At lunch with our cheese, Ale mentioned – and I realized as well – that sugary drinks do not pair well with cheese.  The only time I think this will hinder me is because I’m so curious about this sidra that is so famous here in Asturias.

7. Spaniards love to play the lottery.  At least the older crop enjoys it!

8. ATMs (cajeras) in Asturias HATE ME.  Madrid airport?  No problem.  Asturias?  No funcionan.

9. Do Asturians work?  I see a lot of shopping going on, but not much working!  I suppose half work at stores, and the other half shop.

10. The US could take a clue from the Europeans re: cell phone plans.  Good gracious!  Although, we’ve got unlimited everything for a decent price in comparison, but there are so many non-contract or prepagado plans here, and per minute.  Likewise, the Europeans could take a clue from the US.  Cell plans only available for calls during business hours?  Connection fees?  What?

11. People here are very kind, but also very much always seeming in a hurry (wow, best sentence I’ve ever constructed, right there…).  When we were looking at cell plans, people kept interrupting in EVERY store and trying to talk to the clerks we were talking with.  The clerks would harshly cut them off and ask them to wait.  People were always walking out.

12. As I suspected, people talk freely about you/your body/your ‘ism’s.  My weight, my hair, my menstrual cycles, my large facial pores have all been topics of discussion.  I knew this would be normal though and already chose to not be offended, since I feel that they are just characteristics of me, not defining factors.  Besides, in another language it doesn’t feel offensive.  Probably because the words don’t carry as much weight, and because people want to ‘help’ you.  Hopefully this doesn’t rub off on me when I return to the States!  If it does…I apologize in advance.

More to come about today…my first outing into the city!

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View from our apartment on Fray Ce…
View from our apartment on Fray C…
photo by: asturjimmy