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Posts under tag: Asturias

October 21, 2015

UO and PSU students study in Spain (Summer 2015)

Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo

Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo

In August 2015, Professor of Spanish David Wacks traveled to Oviedo, Spain to lead GEO Study Abroad’s Summer Advanced Spanish Literature and Culture Program. In this program, which Wacks piloted in 2014, a group of 10 students from the UO and OSU took two upper-level Spanish courses in four weeks (8 credits total), while they stayed in family homestays or at a universally accessible intergenerational residence in Oviedo that was also home to seniors, traveling professionals, students, and athletes.

During the month Wacks taught two courses whose content is focused on the culture and history of the Principality of Asturias, the region in Northern Spain of which Oviedo is the Capital. Both of these courses satisfy the ‘in-residence in Eugene’ courses required for the Spanish major and minor at the UO. Students studied hard learning about the history, mythology, folk culture, and literature of Asturias from Monday to Thursday.

Students participate in a theatrical tour of Laviana

Students participate in a theatrical tour of Laviana

On Wednesdays they went on program excursions to the places they had been studying, such as the Roman Thermal baths in the coastal city of Gijón, the historic site of the Battle of Covadonga, which now houses a shrine tucked into a cliff with a waterfall spilling out of it, and the mountain village of Entralgo, the setting for the novel La aldea perdida (‘The Lost Village’), which students read as part of the literature course.

Lush landscape around the village of Villorio

Lush landscape around the village of Villorio

In 2013, Wacks served as Visiting Faculty for AHA’s regular Spring semester study abroad program in Oviedo. He and his family were so taken with Asturias’ natural beauty, rich cultural life, and welcoming people that they wanted to share the experience with more UO students and continue relationships with friends and schoolmates they had begun in 2013. “Asturias is an interesting place,” says Wacks. “It’s not on the regular touristic routes, so locals are not overexposed to Americans or foreigners in general. It’s easier to meet people and form relationships. It’s also an area of Spain with a very interesting history. It’s not the flamenco-and-bullfight Spain of Andalucía. It’s on the Atlantic Celtic rim, and so Asturians have a lot in common with other areas of Celtic influence such as the British Isles, Brititany, and neighboring Galicia in Spain. Plus the food is exceptional.”

Students on the medieval "Roman" bridge in Cangas de Onís

Students on the medieval “Roman” bridge in Cangas de Onís

Student participants acknowleged that is work-intensive but fulfilling and enjoyable. Sheyanne Hunsinger, a Spanish major from Durango, CO, reports: “It is a challenging program but well worth the work you put into it. It is rewarding to learn about the place where you are living.”

Her classmate Phillip Kriegel, a Math and CIS major and Spanish minor from Beaverton, describes it as “an incredible program that takes you to a part of Spain that many never [otherwise] learn about. The culture, people, and city are one of a kind, and it is truly amazing.”

Student conducting ethnographic interview with resident of Ovida residence

Student conducting ethnographic interview with resident of Ovida residence

Students also appreciated the bonding experience that comes with working hard and playing hard with a like-minded group. Hannah Rondeau, a Spanish major from Corvallis, advises future participants to “be prepared to work hard, but also have a lot of fun. As long as you manage your time well you will still be able to go out and experience the culture of Spain. . . . You will develop amazing friendships with the people around you.”

museu

at the Museum of the Asturian People in Gijón