Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Homestay


Its the second week that I am studying at the University of Oviedo intensive spanish course as part of Centennial College’s SIPs in Spain.  It is important to know the living choices when studying abroad, you have the option of staying in homestay or student resident, etc.  These living choices has some benefits and advantages when learning a new language.  Here is my top 5 reasons why you should choose homestay.



I get to live with a homestay family who is based in Oviedo.  They know the Catalan Romance language, and also Spanish. They know the city well and  I can ask many questions, such as locations of monuments, the hours of operation of stores, etc.


Did I mention about food?  My homestay family makes what they usually eat here in Oviedo.  I get to live the way they do through their culinary.  Though my stomach protested in the first week to have some vegetables, I made progress to negotiate with my homestay that VERDE is a must for me. For dessert, I enjoy the fresh local cherries that they have here, its very delicious.  I have lunch very late in the afternoon, that I am not used to, which is around 2pm.  Negotiation with my homestay family is in process to have an earlier breakfast…so I can leave early to school because I still get lost on my way to school.


When living in a homestay, I can focus more on my studies, so I can be one step closer to my goals of fluency in Spanish.  I do not have to worry about random weeknights parties from roommates.  Hilariously, my upstair neighbours likes to walk in their heels, I think its time for them to invest in carpets, no?


I get a chance to do what my family do and learn their way of living.  In the afternoon,  I enjoy my siesta, cat nap, which I find helps me reenergize.

1.SPANISH 24/7.

My homestay family makes an effort to speak to me, despite the communication challenges of not fully understanding each others native language.  In this way, I am in an immersive environment that allows me to  listen and try my best to communicate verbally in Spanish, so I can practice my Spanish.

¡Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Centennial College Massage Therapy student, currently studying Spanish at the University of Oviedo in Spain for the summer.


What am I up to this summer break?  I am excited to say that I am doing a Centennial College summer international program at the University of Oviedo in the province of Asturias in Spain.  It is where I will be spending the next three weeks learning Spanish.  Often, the first week can be nerve-racking, not knowing anyone yet, the new time shift, and unfamiliar customs.  That’s why it’s important to try these 3 things in the first week of your summer international program in Spain that can help you transition smoothly to the new setting.

A cage of the pan, it displayed their bread that was sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.
A cage of the pan, it displayed their bread that was sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.


In the first week, I had my first epic welcoming party and sipped Sidra from an interesting technique.  This is an event you do not want to miss out on your first week in the Universidad de Oviedo intensive Spanish course.  This is where you can meet some of your classmates in a social setting and also try something new. What is an espicha?  It is a festive, social event in Asturia and Sidra is usually consumed at the local sidrería, such as Tierra Astur, in which you would not have a difficult time finding in Oviedo.  Sidra is a cider and is a popular alcoholic beverage in Asturias, that is made from fermented apple juices.  The person usually pours it from a height so the Sidra becomes foamy and sparkling.  As well as, it is drunk in a short amount of time, as it will get warm.  A 1/2 inch residue of the Sidra is left at the bottom of the drinking glass, so to rinse and clean it out.

2. SIDRA:  

The video above shows me making my first attempt at pouring the Sidra from the large wooden barrel.  This is a must-try when in your first week in Oviedo, Spain.  I and others had the same feelings when we hesitate to try this technique.  We were worried about it getting all over ourselves, spill it everywhere or it might pour the wrong way. To my surprise, it was not what I thought, I only had some Sidra on my hands, but was easy to clean up.  The night finished off with traditional music, usually, the bagpipe musical instrument is played, along with singing, and dancing.  They also served a tasting of a walnut dessert.


Ayuntamiento de Oviedo is the city hall of Oviedo, where the municipality decisions are made.  It’s one of the places you can go inside with your school group.  The meeting table is where the council communicates with each other in order to make important decisions on the municipal level.

Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Centennial College Massage Therapy Student

Summer International Program 2016 Oviedo, Spain

San Sebastian

As a frequent traveler, I have been to 16 countries and over 50 famous destinations all-over the world; but if you ask me to recommend the best beach I have ever been, with no doubt, I will give you the name “San Sebastián”, or in the local Basque language, “Donostia”.

Before I start to introduce this amazing city, I would like to quote some words from my travel guide book; “We would like to say there is nothing impossible in the world, but there is one exception, that if someone comes to San Sebastián and didn’t fall in love with the city, which is absolutely impossible”. I was very much impressed by it, and of course, San Sebastián was even beyond my expectation, and here is why:

Spectacular beach
There are two beaches in San Sebastián, which are Zurriola Beach in the east and Kontxa Hondartza Beach in the west. These two beaches are actually quite close, but in two different styles, like completely different. So firstly, the Zurriola Beach is open towards to the Atlantic Ocean, then the wave here is pretty big, for sure it is not good for swimming, and it is absolutely ideal for the surfing. BTW, the surfing class is also available here, if you haven’t tried before, here is one of the best places for beginner. By contrast, the Kontxa Hondartza Beach is bigger, but much more relaxing, prefect for swimming, snorkeling, beach volleyball, beach football, sunbath, book reading, sand castle building… and many other fun activities.


Historical part
Right beside of Kontxa Hondartza Beach is the historical part of San Sebastián. The archaic street, shops and churches will bring your back to the old time, to see the old Europe, when the great artists were traveling cross Europe, and making their masterpieces. Just don’t follow the crowd, make you own way, get lost in the city, you will alway discover something new and something interesting, and trust me, it is really fascinating.


The food!
San Sebastián is not only famous for its beautiful beaches, but also, it is called the capital of “Pintxos”. “Pintxos” is the traditional Spanish food, south Spain call it “Tapas”, it is made by many ingredients, with over 1 million different flavors and matches. I believe it is understandable that food is really hard to be described in words, then you will have to try you own. But I will put my reputation here, to say, San Sebastián’ Pintxos is definitely one the best in Spain.


There are much more about San Sebastián I couldn’t put in words here, but there is one thing I have to say, that San Sebastián is one of the best destination in Spain, and if you go there, you will find out more.


Your GEO experience starts here!

Hello fellow Centennial peers,

Summer is ending and we’re all ready for another wonderful semester.  How was your summer?  Was it as memorable as mine!?  If you haven’t heard of the Centennial GEO office or their study abroad programs then this is the blog post for you!

I know how he did it :)
I know how he did it 🙂

My name is Jack, and I’m going into my fifth semester at Progress for Automation and Robotics.

For the past two summers, I and many other Centennial students have participated in month-long Language and Culture programs abroad through the GEO summer abroad program in Spain.  Both experiences have broadened my horizons and opened my mind to infinite ideas on how to apply my area of study to everyday issues.  It has made me a better person (I hope), and allowed me to pick up some basic Spanish.

What’s in it for you?  Why should you participate?

Let me take you through my summer Spanish journey, the people I met and the things I’ve learned.  You decide for yourself if a summer abroad is worth your time and money.

For me, this summer was one word: amazing!  For the first four weeks, myself and three other Centennial students studied Spanish language and culture in Logrono, La Rioja – the wine capital of Spain.  We met other students from New York, Utah, San Diego, Germany, Italy, China, Korea.  Friendships and bonds were forged through field trips and going out at night into the old town for tapas and dancing!  On weekends, we made trips to other major cities.

Basic Spanish A1 passed!
Basic Spanish A1 passed!

We experienced everything from the beauty of San Sebastian’s coast line, the modern architecture of Bilbao, the world famous art in Barcelona, to of course, Pamplona for the Fiesta de Sanfermin, aka “The Running of the Bulls” made famous by Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”.  Pearl, I assure you, none of us ran with the bulls.

When it was time to bid farewell and say ‘hasta luego’ to all our new friends, I embarked on a 30 day trek through northern Spain called the “Camino del Norte”.  I hiked up mountains and lost myself in spectacular vistas from San Sebastian to Bilbao.  Bilbao to Santander took my breath away with magnificent beaches and the sea meeting rivers and valleys.  I swam in the Cantabrian Sea on lunch breaks to beat the afternoon heat.  From Santander to Gijon, I walked along cliffs to find hidden beaches inland and along the coast; more beach days don’t hurt after 20 km morning marches.

Up Mountain = Scenic Vistas
Up Mountain = Scenic Vistas

On my journey to the final destination of Santiago de Compostella, everyday melted together into a rhythmic dance of steps, rest stops, and taking in the moments.  A life changing journey!

However, it was the people I met this summer that made it spectacular as it was.  My fellow classmates in Logrono, new friends from New York, Utah, and Italy all infused my mind with new ideas, new perspectives, and new information about different topics and cultures.

The people of the Camino were unique individuals sharing an unique adventure with random strangers from around the world.  Each and every person along my journey has influenced me and has been influenced by me in a positive way and taught me valuable life lessons.  No amount of money can equate to such an experience.  Thank you all!

Happy faces :)
Happy faces 🙂

And finally, what I learned. Well I learned that people are people. Regardless of their culture or background, they all want the same thing at the end of the day: safety, health, and social contact.  We, as Canadians, are privileged to have many of those things given to us just by being Canadians.  So my word to you the reader: take advantage of these GEO study abroad programs.  Broaden your horizon, experience the world and meet awesome people.  After, take the new you and make the world better for everyone else that lives in it, especially those less fortunate.

But it all starts with you.  You need to have an open mind, an open heart, be humble and wise to know that there’s always something new to learn and someone out there that can teach you.  Next time the GEO email makes it to your inbox, open it and apply for an unforgettable summer abroad!  Or go to the GEO office located in the International Office at Progress Campus!

Jack Yin, Automation and Robotics

2015 Summer Abroad – Language and Culture, Logrono, Spain

Studying is boring? Not here!

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to spend 4 weeks in a beautiful Spanish city called Logrono. This was my first time learning Spanish and being in Spain. What can I say about this experience? It was amazing!

First of all, the classes. All the people in my group were beginners and never studied Spanish or knew very little. After just 4 weeks everyone got 75% or more on a final test and got A1 level in Spanish! I could never imagine that it was possible to achieve these results in such a short term. But not only my classmates were serious and dedicated. If we didn’t have our great teacher Ricardo with us, we would not be that successful. That person really made our classes joyful and interesting and I can say that he is one of the best teachers I have ever had joy to study with.

Secondly, accommodation and living. We were placed in a student residence. The place was very close to the university and had a bus stop nearby. Rooms were cosy and every room was equipped with a kitchen and a washroom. Usually after classes we were buying groceries to cook a lunch ourselves later or going to a local restaurants and coffee shops. Sometimes, however, because of the heat some students adopted a habit of taking an afternoon nap, also called siesta which is a common thing in a Spanish culture. And in the evening, when the heat eased and shops were opened again, we liked to explore the city, visiting local attractions and beautiful cathedrals. This also helped us to improve our Spanish.


Finally, once again I am very grateful for this month full adventures and discovers. I never thought I would visit Spain or start learning a new language soon. The culture and history, it is something one of a kind. Just visit this country once and I can assure you that your heart would not stay untouched.


Espana -The Language and Cultural trip of a lifetime by: Paula Bianca Junio

Hola!! It has taken me awhile to finally write my blog, Im not exactly sure whether it is due to my heavy school workload, or maybe I’ve just been trying to avoid reminiscing about this incredible country because secretly, I’m wishing that I am still there….


Our first picture at our beloved University
My very own student id card 🙂
The campus is so GREEN!! Full of trees, grass, backdrop of the mountains, fresh air and oh so CLEAN!!!
Our GEO group in front of our campus
Usual breakfast at the school cafeteria- tortilla de patatas, anyone?
Our view! Overlooking the balcony of our apartamento for 2 weeks.
Imagine waking up to this! Overlooking the balcony of our apartamento.


During our 2 week stay, we attended the University of Navarra, where we learned how to speak and write in Spanish. After language class, we then explored the Spanish culture through lectures, hands-on class activities, as well as trips outside of the University to further enrich our cultural experience. Some of the trips included: a tour of the city hall, rumba class, tapas night, a trip to Olite city, and a trip to the city central. Everyday was literally an adventure, every second of it so memorable..

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El encierro del toro.. (the bull monument)
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Rumba class!! Oyeeee!!

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Pintxos(tapas) for days, 4 course meals, pastries, ice cream, vino, and cerveza!! EVERYTHING was wonderful, tasty, organic, and quite healthy, so I can speak for our group when I say we felt guilt-free when we pigged out 😛 There was very minimal fast food restaurants, there was honestly only 1 McD’s and KFC in the WHOLE city of Pamplona. No wonder why everyone looked sooo good, fit and happy!! These are some of our food and drink experiences..

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CAFE IRUNA- the oldest restaurant in town! It has been around since the late 1800s.

Manda Panda with our yummy pastries and gelato..!!
Manda Panda with our yummy pastries and gelato..!!


We were so fortunate enough to have been able to visit other cities nearby as well. Somehow, we made it possible to visit 3 other cities nearby. We explored the beautiful Madrid, Barcelona, and even got to go to Hendaya, France!! Although we were only in these cities for a limited time, we made sure we made an adventure out of it and made memories to last a lifetime. These are a few pictures from our awesome voyages.

collage of Madrid
Beautiful Barcelona
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Jumping for joy in Barcelona..
Dipping our feet into the Mediterranean sea… 😀
Goofing around with a new friend on the Barcelona tour bus..
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Outside the Barcelona football stadium!! It was packed because it was GAME DAY!
The crew arriving in Hendaya, France!!
“swimming” in France
Jumping! Just coz Im in France..
Jumping! Just coz Im in France..



It was a bittersweet moment, waking up to the last day of our Spain expedition. Saying goodbye is never easy, but this time it was so much harder to do. We said our final goodbye to our University, our incredible profesora Bea, our new found friends, and of course, the lovely land of Spain. With a heavy heart, I kept thinking im not saying goodbye, but instead its see you later.

Last class picture
Last class picture
Saying goodbye to the BEST Spanish teacher, EVER!
Saying goodbye to the BEST Spanish teacher, EVER!


Finally, I want to say THANK YOU so much Centennial College, International Offices, and Pearl Vas for providing me with this INCREDIBLE experience that I will always and forever be grateful for. There are simply no words to describe how much this trip means to me, as I will always hold the experiences and memories I’ve made close to my heart. I’ve met incredible people with the kindest hearts and outgoing personalities that I can now call my friends. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could ever be provided with an opportunity to learn Spanish in Spain!!! Pearl, I feel really lucky to be one of the few students you have chosen to experience this trip of a lifetime, and I have utilized my 2 week time there!! Everyday was a different adventure in the beautiful country of Spain. I will always treasure this trip, and I cannot wait to go back.

I will leave this off with a favorite quote

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”

-Gustave Flaubert

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Memories from Espana (Spain)

It has taken me awhile to sit down and pen down my thoughts since I got back from the Global Experience Opportunity(GEO) Spain, but here I am finally to share my thoughts with all of you.


The GEO Spain Language and Culture Program has been a memorable experience that has changed my thoughts about a culture as I experience it on a personal level. Before I visited the beautiful little town of Pamplona, all I knew of  the Spanish culture was the bull fights and tomantino festival, as of today, my opinions are very different, it has a rich history going back many years in time, with the many battles and palaces, the bishops playing a central role, the beautiful cathedrals and the many festivals.


The City Hall, Pamplona Spain                              The team in the City Hall with our Spanish Teacher

What striked me the most was the difference in lifestyles in Europe and North-America, in Spain, I found that they worked fewer hours and seemed to have a much more relaxed lifestyle, they seemed to balance work and life pretty well, people are seen relaxing with friends and family in the evenings at the many pincho bars around every nook and cranny. The food in Spain is just out of this world, its so fresh and healthy, the lack of mcdonalds and KFC’s for long distances in this town suprised me.


Pinchos (Little snacks) with drinks                          The team experiencing the pinchos night

Over the two weeks in Spain, we visited many beatiful historical places in the town of Pamplona, here are a few pictures :


The team at the Momumento al encierro               Dining at the Cafe Iruna, one of the oldest cafes in the town


Panoramic view of the town centre in Pamplona


The palace of the King of Navarra                         A festival on the palace grounds

As we made our little trip to Barcelona, the number of Mcdonalds and KFC’s started to grow again, the streets were dirtier and all the toxicities of city life were back. Personally, I just loved the quite little town of Pamplona, and didnt quite like Barcelona, as it was just like any other big city in the world with thousands of tourists, although the monuments and architecture is quite astounding.



At the Placa de Carles Buigas, Barcelona


This is a picture I took on my last day at the University of Navarra, as I left the campus with a heavy heart, the little spanish that i learnt over the two-weeks did just fine for surviving in this beautiful little town, the memories of the people, the food and festivals will remain etched in my memory forever. All I can say is, language and culture is something that can only be experienced and this experience has helped me grow as an individual.


The final moments in pictures above, this trip and the town of Pamplona will always have a special place in my heart.

Major Spain Withdrawal!

It has been three days since I came back from my mini-Euro trip! This week has been all about catching up and getting everything together for school! But I would just like to take a moment to reflect on my beautiful experience in Spain…and other European countries as well. 🙂

Even before the trip started, I was already so excited to embark on another adventure. I was privileged to be part of the GCELE Nicaragua team last February and it completely changed my life! I promised myself that I would come back to Nicaragua to further take part in their development. I wanted to continue to help, and I really really wanted to learn how to speak Spanish. Fast forward a few months later, I found out about the GEO Culture and Language experience in Spain! I thought I was not even going to get this opportunity, but I applied anyway. So, I encourage everyone to just apply even if it seems like a longshot! It is too good of an opportunity!

1. The beauty of Pamplona, Spain

Pamplona is a precious city in my heart. It is rich in culture – famous for its Running of The Bulls event. But it is so much more than that, it is rich in history and beautiful people with great attitudes in life. The picture on the left is La Plaza de Castillo – where people just sit and relax and sometimes dance their traditional dance. On the right is myself overlooking the breathtaking Pamplona. I love how classy, peaceful and beautiful this city is!

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2. Universidad de Navarra

Every morning, I looked forward to going to Spanish classes. The teachers were very nice and helpful. Bea, mi maestra favorite, is such a funny teacher! I thoroughly enjoyed learning Spanish along with my fellow Centennial students as well. The cool thing was that there were also other people from all around the globe who were in the ILCE program. The campus is absolutely stunning and huge. Seeing the mountains and the nature every morning really made me admire the university so much more. Oh and their tortillas and chocolate croissants are muy muy muy delicioso!

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3. The group ❤

I think what really made the trip soo much fun for me is getting to venture to different places with a great group of people! Good times, good memories and good company! So glad to have met you all 🙂

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4. The trip after Spain

Also, I just want to thank Centennial for allowing me to extend my trip! I was also able to reunite with my family and see other countries and cultures through this amazing trip 🙂

vienna  france

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Special shoutouts to Pearl and all the staff of the GEO office and all the sponsors who made this opportunity possible for us! You all have truly changed the way I look at the world and the beauty of culture.

From the bottom of my heart, GRACIAS!


University of Navarra, Spain

I recently got back from the 2 week language and culture trip to Pamplona, Navarra, Spain. I was with a group of 26 students learning Spanish at the University of Navarra.

This trip was amazing. Pamplona is a beautiful city. It is so clean! We did not see any litter or dirt anywhere in the streets. We actually saw people washing the streets! It is so peaceful, calm and quiet there. The air smells so nice and clean, and everywhere you look there are beautiful trees and mountains along the horizon.

The people in Pamplona are very nice, especially those in positions of customer service. I often hear that in some places if you cannot speak the native language, people have a tendency to be rude to you. In Pamplona, everyone tried their very best to overcome the language barrier and be as helpful as possible. And if ultimately they could not help you, they seemed genuinely disappointed! We were also surprised by how people drive there. If you are at a crosswalk and your light goes red, the cars who are stopped will sit and wait for you to cross. Everyone is so patient and respectful.

Our teacher was very nice. She taught us the things we needed to know, but also would spend some time each day asking us what we wanted to know or thought was important to know. Our classes felt like conversations, where both sides were learning about each others language and culture.

My favourite outing was the Palace of Olite, of which I have added some pictures. Our guide was very knowledgeable and made this a very fun and educational outing.

This trip was a wonderful experience for me and I would definitely do it again if I have the opportunity. Thank you to all the staff and students who made it a success!

Annamaria Labelle

Beautiful Journey to Spain

I had a great opportunity which Centennial College and Pearl Vas gave me to travel to Pamplona, Navarra, Spain this summer. Learning Spanish while immersing in Spanish culture and history what can be more amazing?! I agree with the quote by Nelson Mandela, 2007:
“If you speak to a man in his own language, you speak to his heart.”
This is true that language helps a lot to understand people, their behavior, lifestyle, customs and traditions. Pamplona is a very peaceful place which allows you to reflect on your own life. The weather, culture, people, traditions affect you and provoke to re-think some of your values. For instance, to be stressed and hurry all the time to catch the project deadline becomes foolish. People in Pamplona create calm and relaxing atmosphere, they appreciate and enjoy every moment of their life. Siesta hours speak louder than any other explanations. Almost all stores and shops are closed from 2pm till 5pm. No one is hectic and rush, regardless of that they are on time and do not experience problems with delays. Our teacher told us that people in north of Spain more conservative that in south, probably because of weather conditions. May be, I didn’t have chance to compare south and north, but definitely, Spanish people are helpful, friendly, charming and cheerful.