The sound of my iPhone alarm wakes me up around a reasonable 8:30 a.m. Spaniard’s and I share a common hatred of early mornings. I eat a small breakfast at my house consisting of Kellogg cereal with milk. I grab my mask and I am off on my 10-minute walk through the city of Oviedo. The mornings are the most calming and peaceful part of my day. The weather is overcast and cold enough for a jacket in the middle of July. There are very few people walking through the streets and most stores don’t open until 10 a.m. I see a few of my classmates from the University of Missouri as I arrive at school right on time for classes to start at 9:30 a.m. My first class is Intermediate Spanish and it goes by in a flash before our first break at 11:30 a.m. All Spaniard’s believe this break in the middle of the morning is essential to productivity in the workplace and in school. Many Spaniards use these 30 minutes to eat their second breakfast. I take advantage of this free time to walk over to my favorite cafe called Pertierra. The owner, a cute old man, has our orders of a ham and cheese sandwich and a coffee ready for the smiling American’s that visit him every day. Coffee in Spain is always served hot and only comes in a small size. I have found that most cafes have essentially the same foods in Spain. Right at noon I am back in class for another hour before switching to a literature class about the important works of Garcia Lorca.
At 2 p.m. I am done with my school day and typically, while most Spaniards are taking a quick nap or eating lunch, I head over to another cafe called Titanic to do my homework and purchase bottled water. All the food, clothes and activities are very cheap in Spain. However, the cost of electricity and water is very expensive. Most Spaniard’s take very short showers and turn the water off in between every step of their shower routine. Water from restaurants costs money and comes in plastic bottles. None of the Spaniards that I know of drink tap water, however, it is sanitary to do so.
After completing my homework for the day, I have several activities to choose from in town or in nearby towns. Some of my favorites include going to the beach in Gijon, shopping downtown, meeting friends for appetizers called tapas, taking a historical tour around the park or in the Cathedral, or going on hikes in the nearby mountains. Northern Spain is famous for its tapas and alcoholic cider. The cider or sidra is poured from very high up into the glass to aerate the liquid and give it a lighter taste. Spain is also known for its heavily dense and high-protein meals such as fabada. These plates are typical Asturian foods because of the history of Spaniards who would have to work all day in labor-intensive jobs like farming or mining. Around 9 p.m., most Spaniards start to eat their fourth meal of the day. Typically Spaniards eat a very small meal for both breakfast and their second breakfast, but the larger meals of the day are lunch and dinner. Much like the inconsistent Missouri weather, the sun comes out in the afternoon and I have to remove most of my layers to walk around town. The sun doesn’t set until 10:30 p.m., so the city is very lively at night. Most restaurants don’t open to serve dinner until at least 7:30 p.m.
At night, many people go from a place to eat appetizers, then to eat their main meal, and then finally to a bar or discoteca. Due to COVID-19, all of the bars and discotecas in Oviedo close at 1 a.m.; however, it is very normal for Spaniards to be out until the sun rises the next morning. Luckily, Oviedo is a very safe town so I have no trouble walking 15 minutes home at night after hanging out with my fellow Mizzou students. Typically I am able to say goodnight to my host family when I return home, and even watch an episode of Spanish “Survivor.” That concludes the average day in my life as a student in Oviedo, Spain.