This is a little blog I've decided to keep while I'm on my Year Abroad in the lovely city of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain. I've never written a blog before, so this should be interesting. Or fun. Hopefully both.
I've been in Oviedo for juuust over a couple of weeks now, and have to say I'm rather enjoying it! Arriving on the 20th September, I was expecting - as everyone had told me - a scene similar to a rainy Cumbrian countryside. However, the weather has been absolutely fabulous and, much to the shock of the locals, who presumably think 23 degrees is fairly wintery, I have been enjoying exploring this beautiful city without a coat or umbrella! (Their ill-concealed glances may also be due to the fact that I may be the only ginger person in the city, I am yet to find another.)
|La Plaza de la Catedral|
I have only just begun to fully appreciate everything though, as for the first week or so I was inundated with terrifying floods of Spanish bureaucracy. After thousands of seemingly repetitive and confusing emails from several different people, it became clear that it was not quite so easy as 'moving to Spain'. I had attempted to find somewhere to live through various websites whilst still in the UK, and in the end simply found a flat through an Erasmus student group on Facebook. After a somewhat baffling discussion where I pretended to understand the ins and outs of arranging a contract in Spanish, I signed it and now have a very lovely flat to live in! Then came the 'Certificado de Empadronamiento', which was simple enough despite the obscure location and the piles of photocopies of my passport, and then the dreaded NIE (or, Número de Identificación Extranjero). Having been given no other explanation than "obtain an NIE from the local authority" I walked from the ayuntamiento (town hall) across the city to a series of government buildings, hopelessly confused, until a nice lady talked me through the process. Apparently you have to ring a hotline to make an appointment to get your NIE, to then be told that there is a waiting list of 4 weeks. Hardly practical given that I was due to start work in less than a week. After yet another stream of frantic emails, my appointment was booked, and I arrived armed with an alarming amount of paperwork. My reward? 15 minutes waiting in silence before being given a tiny, blue piece of card (inexplicably laminated on only one side by the way). I won't bore you with any more of my tedious encounters with Important Adult Things I Had To Do, but suffice to say, I was exhausted.
Luckily, all of this came with a silver lining. Traipsing across Oviedo meant my Dad got to play at being navigator, leading us through the city on a sort of accidental scenic tour. Above anything else, Oviedo seems to love statues. Everywhere you go, there are tall dark figures posed on the concrete; a lady in crinoline from a classic Spanish novel, a man with a rocking horse holding an old-fashioned camera, and also, somewhat surprisingly, Woody Allen. Fountains were another thing! Beautiful water features at every roundabout, in every park and at the end of long tree-lined avenues and plazas, calming and simple.
It also gave me the chance to find everything I would need around the city, thankfully only a 25 minute walk away, which normally I would cover by bus, but the annoying thing about buses is that in order to catch one, you need to possess some innate magic to know where they go, where they stop, and when. So, knowing my track record of getting lost even in Leeds where I've lived for 2 years, I choose life. And walking.
|La Plaza de España|
Hasta luego xxx