My adventures in an unknown land – Oviedo, Spain

By Xiuhua Wang, SIPs, Oviedo, Spain, 2016

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Hola, buenos días.

I met my Spanish mother at the bus station, when all we could understand each other were “Hola” to me and “Hello” to her. And that’s how my adventures in Oviedo began…

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Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of  Asturias in northern Spain. Got a chance to explore this city during the whole August, I have fell in the love with this small but neat and charming city.

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It’s a historical city that founded more than a thousand years ago. And from those ancient buildings, we read the history.

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Or, catch a glimpse of their wisdom in those statues…

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After class, drinking a cup of Sidra (Cider, alcoholic beverage made from apple ) may be a good idea.

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Or, seeing around just a few kilometers away from this lovely city…

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Or, how about dance?

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6 Things I Dare You To Do While Studying Abroad

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My classmate and I are in class playing a board game to help us practice our Spanish.  We are holding our list of items we needed to get, such as 1 kg of jamón and 1.5 kg of azucar.

No entiendo is a Spanish phrase I often say when I do not understand what the other person is saying to me while I am here in Spain as part of Centennial’s SIPs.  It is also the same phrase I hear from the other person as well.  In Oviedo, where I am doing my SIPs, I gain more Spanish because the majority of the people you interact with are locals.  One day, my homestay mom wanted to accompany me to places to help with translation.  But I kindly refused and thinking I could do it on my own.  Well, after being laughed at numerous times, receiving all kinds of facial expression from the other person, and even one person stared at me blankly and walked away.  These are the kinds of reactions I received from the locals when we are not interacting with the same language, me with Spanglish, a word derived from English and Spanish, and the other person with Spanish.  But it is when you get out there to self improve on learning Spanish that these attitudes from people will result.  Its actually vale, okay in Spanish!  So, I hope to help you put your newly learn-ing language to functionality by daring you what I had dared myself to do.  I present to you 6 things I dare you to do while studying abroad in Oviedo.

  1. Sign up for a library card at the local library:  I am thankful that it is accessible to sign up for a library card in Oviedo, so I could borrow books to read on my break time at school and bus rides on school trips.  But, it was definitely a challenge when I tried this.  How will this help with your Spanish?  It will help you by giving the experience in signing forms and speaking…attempting Spanish.  There are common words that you can learn as well, such as nombre, apellidarse, and dirección: name, family name, and address.
  2. Ask 2o people in the first week of school, their name and where they are from..in Spanish:  ¿Como te llama? y ¿De donde eres? (You are asking for their name and the country they are from)  Encantado/a means nice to meet you. This will help you practice the basic introduction to others in Spanish and also making new friends 🙂
  3. Order tarrón helado:  I dare you to order something or this typical flavor known in Oviedo at the local ice cream shop. It is an almond ice cream and during the winter holiday, the tarrón fruit dessert is popular as a gift.  In general, I dare you to order food, because my first time ordering croissants, I ended up with 6 croissants and costing me more then what I intend.  The experience will help you practice numbers and ordering.  Such as when you enter the shop it is polite and typical to greet the people with buenas or hola, bueno días.  To order you could use me gusta… or necesito (I like and I need).
  4. Attend the festival de verano:  During the summer month, the province will have summer festivals.  In Oviedo, the festival of summer offers free concerts in historical monuments, and discounted tickets to theatrical performances.  I had the chance to attend several musicals.  So, how will this help you?   I had to find the location of the place, so I practice my Spanish by asking for directions.  You could use hola, señor/a, donde es.  As well as, everyone I heard when I was in line or seated were speaking Spanish.  That way, I am immersing myself in listening to Spanish.
  5. Watch television:  The local channels offers news, and local tv shows.  I found this helpful in learning Spanish because I start hearing repeated words and phrases, such as tambien, entonces, pero, and mañana. (also, so, but, and tomorrow).
  6. Wonder the streets:  I dare you to wonder the local streets, read the street names, names of shops, and listen on people’s conversations.  This will help you be acquainted to some words and activate your hearing and seeing cues.

!Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Massage Therapy student studying at the Universidad de Oviedo intensive Spanish classes as part of Centennial College’s SIPs this summer.

Rosy walls, Wedding Bells, Mountain Peaks, Cowbells, Vibrant Hues…Buen Días!

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I went on a school field trip to Picos de Europa, a national park in northern Spain.  There were never ending peaks of mountains and cows roaming the hills.

Its my third week studying Spanish at the University of Oviedo as part of Centennial College’s SIPs, and I just finished the weekend off with a school trip to Covadonga, Picos de Europa, and Congas de Onís.  These trips shows the history of Asturias according to my professor and locals.  Our first stop was the Congas de Onís, which had the Puente Romano.  It is a bridge built in the medieval times from the reign of Alfonso XI of Castille and Leon.  In the middle of the reconstructed bridge, hangs the Victoria Cross, that relates to the battle of Covadonga.  On our way to Picos de Europa, a national park in Northern coast of Spain, we had to stop for passing cows, that lived in these mountains.  The cow bells rang in the background, as I hiked up and down the paved path along these mountain peaks.  Beyond these inlands were lakes, Ercina and Enol, that glowed with a deep blue hues.  It was quite a magnificent view!  What I also saw and learn was that it was a site for mining.

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Lucky day for my school, we witnessed part of a wedding ceremony.  In the picture, you can see the four musicians, the bag pipe is a traditional instrument you will hear in Asturias.

Covadonga was our next location, and it has a history that relates to religions; Christianity and Muslim.  I am not verse in history, but before choosing the SIPs, I researched Oviedo, and found this part interesting.  On train and bus rides in Spain, each region and cities I pass by, I start noticing geographical, cultural and religious influences.  Another note, I had a chance to see the elegantly dressed guests of a wedding in the rosie wall, Basilica of Santa María la Real of Covadonga.  The traditional bag pipe was played.  According to my professor, it is custom for a Spanish wedding guests to gift about 150€ each when they do accept their invites.  I guest I will be sending my best wishes to any future Spanish weddings.

¡Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing, currently enjoying the Spanish course in Centennial College’s SIPs at the University of Oviedo this summer.

3 THINGS TO DO ON YOUR FIRST WEEK OF THE SUMMER INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM IN OVIEDO, SPAIN

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.  Thats why its 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.

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A cage of pan, it displayed their breads that were sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.
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A cage of pan, it displayed their breads that were sliced evenly and served with our pinchos.

1.ESPICHA FIESTA:

In the first week, I had my first espicha 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 Universiad de Oviedo intensive Spanish course.  This is where you can meet some of your classmate 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 cider and is a popular alcoholic beverage in Asturias, that is made from fermented apple juices.  The person usually pour it from a height so the sidra becomes foamy and sparkling.  As well as, it is drank at a short amount of time, as it will get warm.  An 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 worry about it getting all over ourselves, spill it every where 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 bag pipe musical instrument is played, along with singing, and dancing.  They also served tasting of a walnut dessert.

3. CITY HALL: 

Ayuntamiento de Oviedo is the city hall of Oviedo, where the municipality decisions are made.  Its one of the places you can go inside with your school group.  The meeting table is where the council communicate 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

 

Italy, Urbania – Unforgettable

Its been 66 days since I’ve been back from Italy, and I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to experience this unforgettable memory. I spent two weeks in the lovely little town Urbania. When I say little, I mean it. Walking the whole town took no more than 30 minutes, can you believe that? Among the narrow cobblestone roads lived some of the most friendly faces and families. Not to mention, their family owned cafes and restaurants – bellissimo! After my morning classes, I would spend my days either wandering the many streets, sketching at the main square, or just hang out central cafe with my colleagues.

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Photographing the narrow streets of Urbania, Italy 

We went on so many wonderful excursions. It was hard to believe how much we were able to see in such a short amount of time. It was pretty impressive how organized this program was!

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Enjoying gelato in Gubbio, Italy 

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Our gondola ride in Venice, Italy

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Personally my favorite visit , Florence, Italy. 

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So much life in such a little town, Urbino, Italy

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Feeling like a total tourist in Rome, Italy  

Even though it’s been 66 days since returning, I’ve thought about this journey every single day. There are just countless stories and memories that I will never forget. My friends and family are probably sick of how I can’t stop talking about it!

Thank you GEO centennial for such an unforgettable opportunity.

Welcome to Plett

After 2 layovers, a day spent in London and roughly 23 hours of air travel, I walked off the plane and onto the runway in George. With the distant views of sea and mountains, the fatigue momentarily disappeared as I was overcome with excitement.

13 hr layover? no problem
13 hr layover? no problem
sunrise in the clouds
sunrise in the clouds

I’m doing my internship at the African Array Lodge in Plettenberg Bay. A coastal town with a plethora of activities for adrenaline junkies and nature lovers alike. The lodge itself is perched on a hill, overlooking the ocean to the East and forest and valley to the West. The lodge is beautiful and has a warm, homey feel; attracting travellers from across the globe. I’ve had the pleasure of working with two girls from Belgium and France, and meeting guests from Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, the UK and the USA.

Highlights of my first few weeks include hiking the nearby Robberg Peninsula, visiting Monkeyland (a sanctuary for monkeys) and spotting dolphins on the beach in town.

hiking Robberg
hiking Robberg
Robberg Penninsula
Robberg Penninsula

Stay tuned, more adventures to come.

Kirstie

Ti Amo, Italia! Part 1: A foodie’s dream.

Ciao! Mi chiamo Fiona. Ho studiato I media di bambini in Centennial College e ho finite il programma nel mese Agosto.

Through Centennial College’s GEO Program, I had the privilege of going to Italy with a group of 26 other students to learn conversational Italian, enjoy traditional Italian cuisine and immerse myself in Italian culture. It was my first time in Europe and I could not have asked for a better experience.

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Urbania is a quant town in the province of Urbino. It’s about 4.5 hours northeast of Rome. The family that I stayed with had 2 teenage children that understood and spoke some English. There were instances of Google Translate being used to communicate. The magical thing about conversing while there’s a language barrier is that one can still make sense of the conversation based on the time of day, the situation and the tone of someone else’s voice.

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I LOVE FOOD. Usually, I don’t seek out Italian food often since I don’t really enjoy pasta dishes unless they’re smothered in cheese… BUT having mild lactose intolerance limits my dairy intake to no more than 1-2 times a week. I do love gelato though. I would suffer a stomachache for tiramisu and bacio gelato ANYDAY!

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Colazione (Breakfast)
At the crack of dawn, my Italian father would go to the local bar to pick up fresh baked croissants for my roommate and I. To put it into perspective, the bar is to Italians as cafés are to North Americans. It was a bit of adjustment eating patisseries for breakfast every morning, but all is forgiven since the croissant con marmellata di pesca è molto delizioso!

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Pranzo (Lunch)
The first thing I noticed when given the school schedule was the 2 hour lunch breaks. Long lunch breaks are given for people to go home and eat together with their families. Local stores are closed midday for family time as well. One of my favourite food items for lunch was a pastry flat bread called the crostolo, which is traditional to Urbania. It can be sweet or savoury. I enjoyed mine with lots of greens, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

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Cena (Dinner)
The first couple of dinners in Urbania, I asked my Italian mom if the pasta that she’s serving us was homemade.  She told me no and that she used pasta from a box and proceeded to show me their cupboard filled with Barilla pasta (the Barilla commercials don’t lie – it’s a brand that Italians trust!). My Italian mom did eventually make us fresh pasta… and it was molto delizioso!

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Cena is a biggest meal of the day for Italians. Unlike North American society where you’re conditioned to have your biggest meal in the morning and eat less throughout the day, Italians have their meals the complete opposite. At the homestay, dinners usually started off with a pasta dish and then followed by a course of meats, veggies and lots of bread. The meal ends with fruit and coffee.

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PicMonkey Collage - food

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Grazie Mille Centennial College! Grazie Mille Centro Studi Italiani! Ricorderò sempre il mio tempo in Italia!


Fiona Lui
Children’s Media – Post-Graduate Certificate Program

Finding A Voice and Becoming a Leader

It took me a while to find my voice in Nicaragua. In a group of 23 leaders, it was difficult to feel like I had a say or could sway an opinion. We had a few group members who were obviously born to be leaders; They had strong, confident and inclusive personalities that made everyone feel heard. I have always found that when no one is willing to step up and take a lead, I will happily take on the role. However, with so many people eager to fill that position, I was finding it hard to speak up. Throughout the week I began to remember that I was chosen to take part in this GCELE for a reason.  I grew more confident as the week went on, and began to feel more comfortable speaking up and working as a leader. I remembered that I am a good public speaker, and fortunately, I had plenty of opportunities to use that sIMG_5499kill on this trip. It was very rewarding to collaborate with all of the unique and inspiring personalities involved with this GCELE, and we all had a chance to merge as leaders throughout the week. Despite all of our different leadership styles, we worked together and taught our health initiatives successfully. Not only were we able to help a community, we were also able to grow as a group and as individuals.

  • Amy Mepham, Nicaragua 2015

Trip to Remember!!!!!

Trip of a lifetime to say the least! This past June I had the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island to participate in a GCELE and represent Centennial College, my second home.

The first day we spent at the Habitat for Humanity warehouse cutting lumber that was to be made into picnic benches for an upcoming fundraiser. It was rainy and cold but that never stopped us! We pushed through lifting, cutting, transporting, and organizing every single piece of wood. We encouraged each other and most of all we completed our task with no injuries, all 10 fingers in tact!

The second day we finally got to work on the house. It was amusing to see all of the ladies minus Pierre, wearing hard hats with tool belts. Most of us had never even picked up a hammer before. We divided ourselves into a few small groups and we worked effectively. At the end of the day it was an unbelievable feeling to see how much worked we had completed. We all had a sense of accomplishment knowing that our hard work would give a family a home that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

Later that night we had the pleasure of meeting Erica and her daughter, who are the future owners of the house we built. The moment we were introduced it gave me clarity. I knew then that no matter how many bumps and bruises I got, I would never quit.

Overall it was an experience I will never forget. Not only was I able to apply what I learned during my first year at Centennial College, I also was able to learn so much. Hats off to Pierre and Anjana, at all times they kept their composure and helped to keep the group focused and on task. Thank you Centennial College for the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island and help to make a difference in a deserving families life.Bonding over some grub!!!

P.E.I = Beautiful
P.E.I = Beautiful
After a hard days work;)
After a hard days work;)

I’m Afraid of Bugs, Dirt, and Germs (& I can’t swim). Was Caño Palma has Tough as I Thought it Would Be?

As part of our GCELE experience we have to blog about our experiences in Costa Rica. The posts have be short which makes sense, so I picked 3 very specific topics. If you have any questions about things I didn’t cover, feel free to reach out @AmeliaR_N. These blogs will also be reposted on my personal blog.

Before Cano Palma people who knew me would crinkle their faces and respond with “Why are you going?” or worse, they’d smirk and say “You’re going to die.” I’m not very big on the great outdoors.

When I got back most people would say “You survived!?! Was it as bad as you thought?”

Here’s the thing. It was amazing and I’m extremely proud of the work I did there. That being said it wasn’t like I showed up and was greeted by a 5 star or even 2 star resort. Conservation work is extremely hard and when you Google ‘how many Sea Turtles are left?” or some other question, the amount of work that went in to that answer you searched in 0.40 seconds is staggering.

fbpost^As soon as I got WiFi I wanted to tell the world what was happening.^

Here is a list of some of the tougher things we experienced on our trip ( a small look at all the work conservationist do):

  • Washroom Things
    There was no hot water –ever. To conserve water you flushed by pouring half a bottle of rain water into the toilet. The water on base tasted heavily like metal. I used very little water to shower or brush my teeth (which I did in the company of giant bugs).

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  • Bedroom Things

It was always hot in the rainforest and never dry. We had a fan we could use if Necessary. Since people worked all hours of the day and night, the rooms were almost always dark (so people could sleep whenever) and very quiet. We slept in bunk-beds which we had to cover with Mosquito nets. Those nets made it extra hot but it was either that or get eaten alive –your call.

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  • Workload Things

The shifts were varied and 24/7. Patrolling the beach to protect Sea Turtles, Hiking in the jungle to track animals and record data, working in the community, tagging trees, maintenance around the station. The chores were endless, usually very physical, and never ending. We were told that Centennial’s presence was a big help because it allowed overworked-scientists to catch up on rest and recover from illnesses.

workload^Wearing dark clothes with long sleeves for the hot Night patrol (can’t scare the turtles away!)^

  • The Nature Thing

It was always hot and always wet.  Clothes never dried. Shoes and feet were always damp. This meant you were always, damp, itchy and sore. Bugs might not be a problem for everyone but the bugs were huge. A bird flew in the room once which was cool until I realized it was actually just a big bug.walk^My regular walk from the dorms to the kitchen^

  • The Isolation Thing

WiFi was scarce and you were working nonstop but in the few off times you’d sometimes notice how out of touch you were with your ‘home-life’ and while it’s not always a bad thing, it can be lonely.us^IT HELPED THAT THESE GREAT PEOPLE WERE HERE.^

Stay tuned to read about my favourite part of the trip!

@AmeliaR_N