What is so great about Oviedo?
By Fátima Serra, WLC
Nestled in the northwest of Spain, between the Picos de Europa mountains and the Cantabrian Sea in the region of Asturias, it is out of the typical tourist paths in Spain. Because they are not overwhelmed by a heavy influx of foreigners, locals and are very welcoming.
Life is good in Oviedo! In a recent study on Quality of Life in European cities conducted by Urban Audit, among Spanish cities Oviedo came first together with Málaga in southern Spain. Neither Barcelona, nor Madrid were the chosen preferred places to live. Ovetenses, as the people from Oviedo are called, are proud of their open spaces, public transportation, schools, sports facilities and the safety of their city.
Students studying in Oviedo attend classes from 9:30am to 2pm, and then they have the famous Spanish three-course meal plus siesta with their host family. After this daily ritual they are free to participate in University activities or roam around the city exploring everything it has to offer: parks, theatres, cinemas, malls, boutiques, beautiful architecture and… sidrerías. Sidrerías are casual restaurants where people of all ages gather to share a tapa to eat and a bottle of hard cider, the typical drink of the region. Fresh seafood from the Cantabrian Sea is also among the favorites.
Most Spanish university students live with their parents in condos and attend the local university. Because there is not a lot of space to entertain at home, the plazas, the sidrerías, and the streets of Oviedo are packed with friendly Spanish students—more than 30,000 at the University of Oviedo— happy to hang out and show our students around.
Even though there are 200,000 people living in Oviedo, the city center is very compact. Most people prefer to get around by walking in Oviedo, and large portions of the city are pedestrian only. When in need of a bus, a superb public transportation system takes you to your destination. Buses leave every five minutes for the neighboring city of Gijón, 25 minutes away, which has a fantastic beach and the best free summer concerts in the region.
Doesn’t all this make you wonder why you’re still here? You can walk to your class in the morning chat with students from Italy and Oregon during the break and make some plans for the evening. You can tell your host mother about the new friends you met today over comida and then watch Spanish news with her. In the afternoon you can check out the summer sales at the Calle Uría, meet your friends for tapas at the sidrería, talk to the Spaniards you meet along the way who are celebrating the end of their exams. They will probably be discussing how to make it to El Carmin, the festival in the neighboring town. Take notes about which bus to take and along you go! Don’t get home too late because tomorrow, Saturday you have an excursion with the rest of the group.