Oviedo Travel Blog› entry 8 of 14 › view all entries
Thoughts and discoveries over the past couple days:
1. I’ve experienced a terrible sort of culture shock / homesickness. I don’t feel either of the two, but that’s the only way I can describe it. The culture isn’t shocking, and I’m not homesick. I think I just felt lonely. No friends yet as school hasn’t started. I’ll be happy when it does so I can focus on studies. It was really bad yesterday. Ale came home and apparently I was obviously sad. When she talked to me about it I nearly lost it. I felt like such a pansy for feeling like that…never thought it would happen to me. And come on, I’m 28 years old. That’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m 12. It’s just so incredibly annoying because I never imagined myself to be like this…I’m always dreaming of travels and this freedom and freeflowing love with new people. Yeah, that hasn’t been the case! Most of it stems from my insecurity with the language, I think.
2. I met Luisa, Ale’s sister. I LOVE HER. She’s 44, has a 12 year old daughter named Carmen (go figure…my belly dance name prior). She lives a bit far out of town but came by bus. She’s got this gorgeous crazy curly caramel-color hair and smoker’s lips, and she’s the warmest woman. She’s much more laid back than Ale (Ale calls herself neurotic). Her daughter is a blossoming cellist, and her husband’s job is as a conductor for the one of the two premiere choirs here in Asturias, the Prince of Asturias Foundation Children’s Choir. She’s going to have her husband check to see if they would accept me into the adult choir for five months as a sort of exchange/intern member (auditions are currently going on and it’s really selective).
3. I’m the most awkward adult I know. I’d be better off just being in a Third World country with a completely different culture. This limbo is crazy. Today I had a duhr-da-duhr moment. I was at Alimerka (the grocery market nearby) looking at all the products. I get this plan that I’m going to order something at a counter, and then I go quiet. Anyway, I realized my shopping basket was so awkward and contained the following products: glass jar of Nutella, random bottle of conditioner (there was only one kind…really they only use shampoo), bottle of white grape juice, and a bag of these Asturian eucalyptus caramels I wanted to try, thinking they’d be heavens awful…nope, just like cough drops. Geesh. What kind of adult buys those products? I just felt like shouting in the dumbest voice with a goofy laugh, “Har har, I take care of myself!”. I felt like a five year old in that moment.
4. Checked out campus today. A really sweet doctoral student named Maria (you know she’s the only one named Maria here, right?) helped us find the office we needed. Let me just say I felt like a five year old then, too, because I don’t say anything really, and I feel like I’m touring on my first ever day of school, trying to figure it out. I don’t feel like an exchange student, I feel like I’ve never spoken in my life. No, wait, I feel like Maki, the Japanese exchange student from my senior year of high school. She knew not a lick of English when she came. Spanish feels like Japanese right now.
What is FRUSTRATING is that in my head and on paper? Nearly perfect. Out of my lips? It’s like I have a ceceo and a stutter. Like I have a mental retardation of sorts. I’m serious. I don’t get it.
5. Went to Cervantes bookstore today and about peed my pants at the names of the ‘graduated lectures’ in English that you could purchase (mini books of different levels to test your knowledge). “Fruitcake Special”, “Love in the Lakes”, “Murder by Art”, “Just Good Friends”, “Trumpet Voluntary”, “Not Above the Law”. So dramatic, eh? Seriously, died. I wondered how those could be so fascinating, and then I found myself interestedly thumbing through the Spanish offerings, wondering if native speakers laughed at those, too. I ended up buying a Spanish dictionary (a normal dictionary, not a language dictionary). I also went to the children’s bookstore and bought HP2 in Spanish (I have 1 in Salt Lake) to practice reading.
6. I think I’m a mute.
7. You can tell an American from a mile away. I can, at least.
8. “The More You Know” jingle just doesn’t translate, much to my dismay.
9. Talking in Spanish doesn’t feel natural. Talking in English feels weird in my throat. I guess I’m without tongue. I know some people enjoy my tongue, but this is how life was meant to be. Oh, the drama!
10. Most people know that I’m a HUGE thinker. I always have a million thoughts racing through my head at any given time. Weirdest feeling ever? Not having anything in my head. That’s what life is like mostly now. I’m either thinking about a word over and over in a language, or nothing. I find I just gaze off all glazed over and have no clue what’s going on. Sometimes I think a lot, but it’s frustrating to not be able to fully express myself, just I just forget myself. This is probably actually really good for me. Ethan, you’ll be thrilled when I come home and am a normal human being who doesn’t think about anything. Marci, well, it’ll probably resurrect with you. It’s awesome. And sad. I’m not sure which.
11. Word you see most here? Rebajas. Words I use most? Me gusta, vale, sí. Yep, my vocabulary is definitely stretching. Words Ale uses most? Qué te mueres, ay Señor, no te entendí. Forecast is looking great for me. (In all seriousness, we have this discussion often, and I need to stop comparing myself. My life is mine to live, a different path than other students, who cares what language level class I enter, who cares if I speak much worse than I used to, and in five months I will rock it, just give it time.)
12. There is still a class system in Oviedo, at least in the minds of the older crowd. Ladies 65+ are dressed to the best, in furs, faux furs, scarves, heavy jewelry, make up, hats. They walk arm in arm and they walk 0.5 mph. Also, their children take them for un paseo at night. It’s like walking your dog, but your parent.
13. Shops really do close for what we always imagined as a ‘siesta’. It’s not a siesta though. They close between 2-4 pm (or 2:30 to 4:30) for un vermú. (Like vermouth.) You go out and meet your friend(s) at a bar (typical block: church, bar, bar, bar, bar, lottery, bar, church), have a vinito (wine) or in my case, a mosco (grape juice…muscat, much better than typical American grape juice), and with it at some places (most in other cities) you get a little bite…like appetizers on toothpicks. Today we went to a new bar, and they had these cordon bleu bites that were freaking amazing. Also had a few with bread/chorizo/ham/cheese. You can order a tapa if you’d like (we had potatoes and aioli), and then you go home and have la comida, or lunch, with your family. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. This is my favorite tradition thus far, as the bars are overflowing with older men, clearly BSing with each other.
14. Last night there was a Madrid vs. Barcelona futbol game. Bars overflowing (I didn’t go, we didn’t know until too late). Every time there is a goal, the bars shoot off something, and at the end of the game, people let off fireworks. It was just on the TVs in the bar, but man I loved hearing people shouting. Reminded me of when I was in Belgium and the Netherlands for the Euro Soccer Cup Finals. I love happy parties of people. I love Spaniards all crazy like that.
15. Many of the older men wear thick-rimmed dark plastic glasses. No wonder Woody Allen likes it here. He looks just like them. Seriously.
Trying to sleep before 1am tonight…it’s been 3-4am every night, silly jet lag.