I guess we all have a certain expectation of what campus life will look like at university, I know I did starting UoA and again coming here to Oviedo. However, the expectations of clubs, events on campus both specifically for exchange students and all students in general and in general just hanging out with friends on campus, have not been met by my experience here at the University of Oviedo. Now please don’t take that the wrong way, that there is nothing to do here and that I am having a horrible time because that is NOT true. What is true though is that I have to organise all my own fun, there are very few organizations on campus, there are no restaurants on campus and the campus life that we are used to just doesn’t exist.
Before you all make up your mind that there’s no way you want to come to Spain, let alone Oviedo, let me explain a little.
Timetables vary depending on what faculty you study in and which year of your degree you are in. For example, all the classes that I take in the faculty of economics are between 9am and 12:30pm (there are also afternoon classes if you prefer to sleep in). While in the faculty of chemistry, if you are in your first year your classes will run from 9am to 2:30 every day, with a few exceptions for field trips and tests. However, if you are in your second year of a chemistry degree your classes start at 1:30pm and run till 7pm. Personally, because of the mix of classes I take at both faculties I have class Monday to Friday from 9am to 2:30pm, three days a week I have a short break in the middle, while Wednesdays and Fridays I have 6.5 hours of class without a break and I am always late to physics because I have to run from one faculty building to the other. This is because unlike at UoA where classes start at 5 minutes past the hour and finish 5 minute early (or they are supposed to) here classes start at the scheduled time and finish at the scheduled time, assuming they are both in the same building this isn’t a problem.
I think I have mentioned this before, but the University of Oviedo has 7 campuses, so living in the university residence means that I live on one of the smaller campuses. In my opinion there aren’t really any campus traditions that I have been able to find. The residence I live in has a few but again I feel more like there are routines that form throughout the semester/year. Although the residence does have a few students who have lived there for up to 4 years so there are some traditions that happen every year. One that I have already spoken about is the Novatadas, so I won’t go into detail about them again, but they are like initiations for new residents that want to participate and they are a great way to get to know the people that you are living with. Another one that I had almost forgotten about because it is such a long time ago now, is a welcome ‘dinner’ they have every year in the second week of classes. This starts off with a meeting in the salon held by the Director of the residence and by the previous year’s student representative. After the meeting has concluded, we all go into the cafeteria for a tapas style standing dinner with unlimited beer and sangria. The part that made this seem like a tradition to me was that half way through eating the food all of the previous residents broke out into song, singing the residence’s songs.
Talking about campuses, the faculties of the university are split between campuses. The campus I live on has all the sports facilities (running track, gym, pool, indoor courts) and the faculty of information technologies. This means that the Sunday football games are played, quite literally, across the street from where I live and every Sunday there is a group of students from this hall that take a drum and go support the universities team! Meanwhile the campus I study at, is quite a bit larger, housing the faculty of economics, law, biology, chemistry and a research facility. Each faculty has a cafeteria in it, my top tip would be to make use of these. They have a range of sandwiches for one euro each, reasonable coffee for less than a euro (or so I’ve been told considering I don’t drink it) as well as a daily menu i.e. a three course meal for 6 euros.
When it comes to uni organizations/clubs I hadn’t found or heard of any since I got here, so to make sure that it wasn’t just me I asked a friend (a Spanish student from Oviedo), she only confirmed what I thought, while there are about 5 clubs that she is aware of, none are advertised and neither of us knew how or where we would be able to join them. The only club that I have seen any activity from is the feminist association, they have hung posters around the campus about violence against women.
The one group that I have seen a lot of and who regularly organise both events and trips is ESN or the Erasmus Student Network. Their most famous event is their Martes de Tapas, or Tuesday tapas nights. These take place in a different tapas bar every week and ESN provides tapas for all. They are a lot of fun and a great way to meet a lot of people, but due to my schedule I haven’t had much chance to go.
I am really enjoying my time and have had a lot of great opportunities, however if you are expecting the kind of campus life from UoA or from the movies it just isn’t a part of the culture here. Although there are a lot of other things on offer, you just have to be prepared to make your own fun.
Until next time, Bianca.