A personal and cultural celebration

Halfway through her study abroad experience in Spain, a student celebrated Carnaval in three cities.

Now at the halfway point of my study abroad experience, it is hard to clearly articulate any of my feelings.

There is definitely an overwhelming part of me that never wants to leave Spain, although I must say that there are brief moments when I miss my family and friends.

There is, however, one thing that I am sure of – the time has completely flown by.

After I visited Brussels, Belgium in late January, my life in Oviedo began to feel normal. Plus, since I lost my wallet and credit cards there, I was forced to live even more like a local when I returned to Spain.

February felt like it passed in the blink of an eye, mostly because of festivities surrounding Carnaval – a celebration preceding La Cuaresma that is known to most Americans as Lent. It’s basically a big Halloween party. Spaniards dress up in their most creative costumes and liven the streets of the city.

Of course, I couldn’t help but join in on the fun.

In Asturias, Spain, there are three cities that celebrate Carnaval – Aviles, Gijon and Oviedo, the capital. Although each city celebrates the same holiday, all of them celebrate it differently.

In Aviles, for example, the atmosphere was very family-friendly. Children got sprayed with foam and water while they pranced around in their costumes. In Gijon, on the other hand, Carnaval was basically just a botellón – where people are allowed to drink freely in the street without any problems.

It basically felt like I was partying for a week straight. School didn’t cut us a break either – while my host mother’s four-year-old granddaughter had three days off, I was still expected to report to my classes at 9 a.m. as usual.

During the first week I arrived here, my host mother would repeatedly tell me that “los españoles viven en la calle,” which translates to “Spaniards live in the street.” By this point of my study abroad experience, I can say this is true – many people go out to bars at midnight and stay out until six in the morning.

Even after Carnaval, my new life in Spain isn’t stopping anytime soon. A week after Oviedo’s festivities, I headed to Barcelona, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.

Although the 12-hour bus ride took a lot of energy out of us, my fellow Temple-in-Spain girls and I managed to see most of Barcelona in a little more than 48 hours. Out of all of the places I have visited so far, this was definitely the gem.

From the amazing seafood paella, to the breathtaking Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, I can’t help but want to return again. Once the trip was over, I began to realize that my time in Spain was about halfway over. I may not have time to see everything that I originally planned on doing.

At the beginning of my trip, I wanted to do so much. Though it is somewhat easy and sometimes cheap to travel through Europe, I would be lying if I said it doesn’t take a lot out of you.

After my trips to Brussels and Barcelona, I was extremely tired and somewhat relieved to be back in Oviedo, my homebase. Now, I have been exploring as much of Asturias as I can until my spring break trip, when I will be traveling through Rome, Greece and back to Barcelona for two weeks.

I am going to appreciate the time I have left in Europe and treasure every experience until the very end of the semester. Time may be moving fast in my eyes, but May isn’t here yet. I still have more of my journey to finish.

Sienna Vance can be reached sienna.vance@temple.edu.

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