Experiencing Spain

By Margot R.

July 27, 2021

Hello! My name is Margot and I am currently in Oviedo, Spain. I am here for the month of July studying Spanish and living with a host family. I have loved Spain; however, there have been many cultural and custom changes that I have just started to adjust to.

Food-wise, it is great. I love all kinds of food, so it has been easy for me to find things that I like (mostly because there isn’t a lot that I don’t eat). Oviedo is 30 minutes from the sea, so it is no surprise that the seafood here is delicious. Olive oil is a huge export of Spain so everything is cooked in olive oil/and or has olive oil in it. That is much different than in America and makes the food have a very specific taste. I don’t mind it, and feel like it is a healthier alternative to the way we cook foods in America.

A typical day of meals in Spain is a cup of coffee in the morning with no food, lunch around 2–3 p.m., and dinner around 9–10 p.m. Lunch is the largest meal here, dinner is late at night and is pretty light. The portion sizes are much smaller than America, which I really like.

Culture at restaurants is very different than America as well. Waiters and waitresses make enough money that you do not need to leave a tip. Water is not free with meals like it is in America. I have loved being able to go to new restaurants and try authentic Spanish food such as Spanish tortillas, medionoches, paella and fabada.

Siestas are real! And I love them! From about 2 to 4 p.m. every day the world shuts down here. Stores close and people go home to take naps before returning to school/work. That is one thing I will really miss about Spain.

Traditional Spanish paella dish.
Traditional Spanish dessert
Traditional Spanish dessert.
Traditional Spanish meal.
Oviedo sights
Oviedo streets with the Oviedo Cathedral in the background.

So far I have traveled to Madrid and Barcelona and Gijón, where I have been lucky enough to see and experience many things. In Madrid, I was able to see the Palacio Real which is the “white house” of Spain. I was able to learn all about all of its history and importance. I was also able to see El Prado, which is known to be one of the best art museums in the world. We were also able to see Plaza Mayor and the Madrid zoo, where we saw a panda and kola.

To get to Madrid we rode the public bus for five and a half hours, it only cost nine euro! The bus was clean, cheap and efficient. Within Madrid we rode the metro for very little money and had no issues doing it. Spain really has figured out their public transportation system.

In Barcelona I was able to see Parque Güell, which is a world-famous park made by Gaudí. I was also able to go inside the Sagrada Familila, which is one of the most iconic churches in the world. I was able to experience a sail-boat tour where we sailed the Mediterranean Sea.

In Gijón, I was able to go to the beach and experience seeing the sea and the mountains in the same place. In all of these places, I have loved being able to practice my Spanish and meet and talk to new people.

Through staying with a host family, I have been able to learn and practice my Spanish so much. Being able to practice all day, every day is an opportunity I am so thankful for. Not only have I become a better Spanish speaker and writer, but I now am now a more cultured individual. I have a much better understanding for other people’s culture and customs and have been able to see some of the best and most famous attractions in the world. This experience has made me a better individual and made me feel more like a world citizen. A am so thankful for this study abroad experience.

Spanish dining room
Historic Spanish dining room.
La Sagrada Familia
Ceiling of La Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.
Water and mountains
View of sea and mountains in Spain.
Learn more about this blogger’s study abroad program: Spanish Language, Literature and Culture