OLIVIA FOSTER, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Oviedo, a city in Spain known for its beautifully grand architecture, rich history, and delicious cuisine, was home to a group of four Wartburg students for 10 weeks over the summer.
Lexus Church, a fourth-year psychology and Spanish major, and Allegra Knudson, a fourth-year biochemistry and Spanish major, two of the students who traveled to Oviedo, were blown away by their experiences in the European country.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” said Church. “It was really cool to see how different Oviedo was from the U.S. It was really clean there and there was something so free about the way people there lived their lives.”
Knudson also enjoyed the cultural shift that came along with living in Spain. Some of the most memorable moments of her time there were ones that she could not have experienced in the U.S.
“There were so many things that were essential Spain moments,” said Knudson. “We met this local who invited us to what he said was a small party on a Monday night and it was this huge thing. I’ve never heard of anything like that happening here.”
The Oviedo program was started by Spanish professor Zak Montgomery in the spring of 2019 to create a study abroad opportunity for Spanish majors who didn’t want to miss out on events on campus during the school year.
“Especially if students are in sports or music or doing double majors, it’s really difficult for them to be away from campus,” said Study Away Coordinator Kathleen Sihler. “So this program is an opportunity for a summer study in an area that has a deep history and welcomes students.”
Some of their favorite experiences in Spain included visiting their professor at her home in Mallorca, an island in Spain, meeting locals, and experiencing Spanish parades and traditions.
One of the most memorable experiences of the program was a parade that the students watched. People in traditional outfits danced down the streets as music played.
“It was this traditional festival that went on for maybe four hours and it went on for miles down the street. The women were wearing these dresses that looked like something a queen would wear. It was so beautiful and different from anything I’d ever seen,” said Church.
Sihler was able to visit the students in Oviedo. When she visited, she saw how much the students had grown since they had lived in Spain.
“Right away when I arrived, I noticed how much the language immersion and genuine Spanish experience had impacted the students,” said Sihler. “Oviedo isn’t a touristy area, so they were able to experience a very authentic language and cultural shift.”
During their time in Spain, the students lived with host families. These families provide a home away from home. Church’s relationship with her host mom was one of her favorite parts of her time in Oviedo.
“My host mom was probably my favorite part of it,” said Church. “She was like my best friend and an amazing cook. She also liked watching tennis, so we bonded over that. Just a few days ago, I saw that a Spanish tennis player won the U.S. Open so I texted her. I still miss her.”
The students will take many experiences and things that they learned while they were in Spain into the Spanish education they’ve received at Wartburg and throughout their lives.
“I want to keep speaking in Spanish every day, even if I don’t need to and embracing the fun in life. There was a quality of life in Oviedo that was so joyful and carefree and I want to carry that with me,” said Knudson.
The Oviedo study abroad program is only for Spanish majors, due to the rigorous language requirements. The Summer study program is an opportunity for students to study abroad during the summer when they aren’t held back by obligations on campus.