Spain´s Best Kept Secret – Oviedo!


“Soaking in Asturias’ beauty and looking ahead into my future”

Riley Dignam originally signed up for the Fall 2011 term in Oviedo but soon afterwards decided to stay for the Spring semester 2012 to complete the academic year.  Oviedo’s strengths as a language and culture immersion site turned out to be both a fun and wise decision.  

Riley recently visited us and coincided with 2 other Oviedo alums.  Although you can’t go home again, once you have studied abroad with us in Oviedo you gain lifetime membership in the GEOviedo family!   Here is what Riley wrote:

I always had people tell me, “Studying abroad was the most fun I had in college” or “Man, I wish I had studied abroad during college”. Obviously, I had no choice but to study abroad after hearing such things over the course of my first two years in college. When it came time to choosing the right program for me, I narrowed it down to one country based on my field of interest – Spain. There were, of course, the popular choice

s of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, etc., but then I saw this city on the study abroad map that I had never heard of before – Oviedo. After much research and Google image searching, I was sold! Not only was the name completely new to me, it was beautiful in a way much different from what you picture when imagining a dry and arid Spain; it was mountainous, lush and green!

“Me (the only American) and local Spaniards posing for Oviedo’s street basketball tournament!”

Apart from its sheer beauty, the main reason I chose Oviedo was because I knew I would be more immersed in a town without a lot of tourism like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. 



Once I arrived, I knew I made the right choice. I was forced to learn the language because they weren’t accustomed to having Americans living in their city so English was hardly every spoken! I quickly became a part of the community by tutoring English to Spanish children in the evenings, playing basketball with the locals, and enjoying the Oviedo night life in old town! 

Here I am telling my own story on a local radio station!


Currently, I work for a company that does business across the world including Spain. Because of my background studying and living in Spain, I continue to visit the country as a representative of my company. The Oviedo program gave me a “once in a lifetime” experience of being completely immersed in a culture, allowing me to learn the language better than I would have in a city brimming with tourism and English speakers. 

If you really want to learn the language and truly be immersed in Spanish culture, go to Spain’s best kept secret – Oviedo!


Alum lunch at the GEO Center with Ariel, Marta and GEO staff

Alum lunch at the GEO Center with Ariel, Marta and GEO staff



Summer 2017 in Oviedo: Don’t miss the opportunity!!

Playa de Salinas, just 30 min. by bus/train from Oviedo!

Playa de Salinas, just 30 min. by bus/train from Oviedo!

Hola futuro estudiante!

Summer is almost here and we are all eager to welcome you on board and help you to maximize your experience in Oviedo.  First of all,  join us on a dancing tour of our city:   Happy We Are from Oviedo!    It will help you get the lay of the land and bring a smile to your face….

(Ok so I can’t get this link to work so you will have to do the leg work:  Go to You-tube and search for “Happy We are From Oviedo”  –  I promise you will not regret it!).

We ask that you join our Summer Facebook group (Oviedo Program (Summer) where we will be posting information before, during and after the program.   You can also use this venue to communicate among yourselves,  ask us questions, post potos and the like.  It is a public group but we ask you to join so you can receive notifications of new posts and announcements.

We are preparing for you as I write and our stateside office  will send you your placements and pre-departure information about 4 weeks before the program begins.

We hope to see you in Oviedo this coming summer”.  We are sure you will not regret it!!


Advanced Spanish Literature & Culture – August 2015

David Wacks con escanciador

David Wacks, associate professor of Spanish at the University of Oregon  will lead his popular intensive advanced Spanish program in Oviedo again in August  of 2015. 

For an excellent introduction to Asturias and its people be sure to read Professor Wack’s blog post:   Some Thoughts on Asturias Mythology (offered as a lecture at the  University of Oregon Osher Center for Lifelong Learning on Dec. 10, 2014).  

The program is especially suited for  Spanish majors who would like to have an intensive immersion experience while making significant progress toward the completion of their degree requirements. Students will enroll in two 4-credit courses (equivalent to UO SPAN 333 and SPAN 407). Both courses are taught by Professor Wacks and will include class discussions and activities, guest speakers, ethnographic assignments, and numerous excursions both within Oviedo and beyond.

The first course, Asturian Cultural Studies, is a panoramic course of the history, culture, folklore, and art of Asturias. You will read primary historical and ethnographic documents as well as secondary studies about the mythology, history, and art of the Asturian region. Readings, excursions, and written assignments will be tightly integrated.

In the second course, Introduction to Asturian Narrative, you will read two iconic novels set in Oviedo and in the Asturian countryside, with special attention to the socio-historical context of the novels and the formal analysis of narrative texts.






Abby Annis,  who participated in the July Intensive session in 2013 shares her  experienced  in her   AHA SCRAPBOOK.   It covers  everything from the city,  the University, the classes,  and  the  excursions….right from the horse’s mouth!

¡¡Gracias Abby!!

New Spring Quarter Program in Oviedo


(follow us on the GEO Oviedo Program Fall/Spring  Facebook group for details on what is happening on site now !)

Starting in 2015,  GEO will begining offering a new spring quarter term in Oviedo that combines two important strengths that have characterized our program thoughout the years:

  • Courses offfered by a visiting professor from one of GEO’s partner institutions
  •  Intensive Spanish Language courses offered by the University of Oviedo’s ELE (Español Lengua Extranjera) program

GEO’s Spring Quarter  program coincides with the spring quarter calendar in US campuses.    During the first six weeks of the program,  a visiting faculty member will teach two intensive content courses in English followed by a choice of  intensive Spanish language courses offered by the University of Oviedo’s ELE program during the last five weeks  of the program.

Students will be on site for approximately 3 months, depending on the calendar.  The program includes an overnight excursión, fieldtrips within Asturias, local visits in Oviedo and Gijon as well as various extracurricular activities associated with the visiting professor’s and/or the  intensive Spanish classes.

In the Spring  Quarter of 2015,   Carlos Aguirre, professor of history at the University of Oregon, will teach two six-week courses in English during the4e first part of the term that  examine the interconnectedness of history, politics, sport, and language in Spain and Latin America.  Asturias is particularly well suited to explore these interesting issues in situ. The two  courses are taught in English,  however, as Professor Aguirre is a native Spanish speaker,  students who complete the readings and course assignments in Spanish may receive Spanish credit for these two  courses.     Each course is 40 contact hours.

Franco y Futbol


Soccer, Globalization and Identities: Spain and Latin America in Comparative Perspective


The Making of a Totalitarian Society: Civil War, Repression, and Resistance in Franco’s Spain


During the Spanish immersion portion of the program, students can choose from one of the following three tracks:

Track 1: Beginning through Advanced Intensive Language. Courses include grammar, vocabulary, and writing workshop (75 contact hours); and conversation (all levels) and/or literature (intermediate or advanced only) modules (for an additional 25 contact hours). These classes take place over five weeks for a total of 100 contact hours.

Track 2: Spanish for Healthcare Professionals. This course takes place over four weeks for a total of 100 contact hours, broken down into 80 class hours plus 20 practicum hours. Advanced level only and subject to minimum enrollment.

Track 3: Academic Spanish. This course seeks to improve scholarly writing in Spanish, and takes place over four weeks for a total of 60 contact hours. Advanced level only and subject to minimum enrollment.

Multitud banderas

Visit the GEO Studyabroad website for program details and syllabi.








Visiting Faculty Fall 2014




Leopoldo Rodríguez, associate professor of International Studies at Portland State University will be teaching two courses during the Fall of 2014  which examine current issues of polítical economics  and international migration as they relate to  Spain:  Spain, the European Unión and Crisis & The Migratory Flows of Spain.

Leopoldo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and lived in Mexico City through high school. He earned  a BA in Economics, M. in Public Affairs and PhD in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. His PhD dissertation was on the Mexican peso crisis of 1994-95. He has taught at Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus (1998-2001) and has been teaching at Portland State University since 2001. He coordinates the International Development Studies track of the International Studies Program at PSU and has led study abroad programs in Rosario, Argentina and San Pedro de Colalao, Argentina and in Oviedo in 2014.  His research interests include the political economy of international development, international migration and political ecology.

Leopoldo describes himself as a  gregarious person who enjoys teaching and has high expectations from his students. He adds; “My background in economics gives my courses a marked orientation; something that at times represents an unexpected challenge to students. I am passionate about what I teach and hope to get students fired up about the things that excite me. He w ill be teaching two courses in Oviedo during the Fall Semester of 2014:

Spain, the European Union, and Crisis

For most of the last two decades Spain flourished into one of the largest economies in the European Union. However, the global financial crisis of 2008 caused severe strains with disastrous consequences. We will explore the role of economic and political reforms, in particular those associated with Spain’s integration to the European Union, in search for an explanation to the boom of the Spanish economy, as well as its unforeseen implosion. We will study the liberalization of trade and economic activity associated with entry to the European Economic Community in 1986, followed by further reforms with the establishment of the European Union. Changes in trade patterns and capital flows, as well as the adoption of the Euro as the national currency, play a central role in this story. We conclude the course with an analysis of the causes and onset of the current crisis, and evaluate the measures that are being taken by Spain under the tutelage of the EU. Special attention will be given to the social impact of economic reforms and crisis.

The Migratory Flows of Spain

The territory we now know as Spain has seen large flows of people. From the Visigoth invasion of the 5th century, and the Moorish conquest between the 8th and the 15th century, to the more recent arrival of North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans and South Americans, the ethnic, cultural and political make up of Spain has been strongly influenced by the arrival and settlement of people beyond its borders. Perhaps less known, at times Spain has also been the source of massive emigration, initially to the American continent during the colonial period, but more recently through the exodus of Civil War refugees to Latin American countries,or providing low cost labor for industrial growth in Western Europe during the 1950s and 1960s. This course sets out to explore the most salient migratory flows, their underlying causes and cultural and political relevance, with emphasis placed on the last century.

During the Fall term students will enjoy two overnight excursions of general interest as well as in relation to the visiting professors’s:   Bilbao and San Sebastian   and  Santiago de Compostela.

After a decade it still feels like yesterday!

Gabriel Valenzuela

Gabriel Valenzuela, a Romance Language alumna from the University of Oregon discovered the enchantment of Oviedo as a junior in 2002-2003. Gabriel and many other AHA alumni will recall with great nostalgia Calle Mon, Gascona, La Gorda and other city points of encounter. After a decade, Gabriel returned to Oviedo to visit his host family Isabel and Gustavo, and Carmen and Reme at AHA. Pacing through the old town “casco antiguo”, memories flooded his mind, much like the brooks of water that the street cleaners use to clean the streets every day in this unique town.


“I knew as a freshman at the UO that study abroad was in my cards. Professors and academic advisors had spoken to the benefits of taking a few to several months+ to travel to a country where the target language that I was learning was the language of the people. Two years flew by and I found myself flying to Oviedo, Spain, a place much like the NW with respect to the verdant landscape and amicable people.

I must say that I arrived with a good foundation built by 6 years of studying the language, but the 9 months to follow took my Spanish to heights that I know would not have been possible without having studied in a Spanish speaking country. The support that we students had from Carmen and Reme was exceptional. The professors from the school were engaging, accessible and made the language learning process a joy. AHA Oviedo must also take great pride in their selection of host families. The families are patient, friendly and inclusive, in so much as I have returned to Oviedo twice since my abroad experience to visit my host mamá y papá and AHA.

One cannot underestimate the power of study abroad, and this was evident in many of the lives of people I met in Oviedo: One student married an Oviedense girl that he met while studying there.  One student and friend/colleague of mine has returned to Spain to do a PhD at the University of Salamanca. I now teach Spanish at Spokane Falls Community College and lead a group of students on study abroad every summer to Spain. These three examples are merely a glimpse toward the hundreds of stories out there to be told by AHA Oviedo students. Oviedo is a home away from home, and I am quite sure that echoes the sentiments of those who spend time in this seemingly Celtic land near the Picos de Europa.

I encourage those who want to expand their horizon, eat amazing food ( fabas, morcilla y cabrales), meet stupendous people and learn a great deal of Castillian to pack their bags embark on an AHA adventure to Oviedo. I know that I will be back next summer to visit!”

Gabriel Valenzuela

Summer News


The intensive Spanish language  programs reached record enrolment numbers during the summer of 2013 and increase every year.  We are proud of the presentation prepared by one of our students, Abigail Annis whle did an excellent job at capturing the essence of Oviedo and the opportunities available to students here.

Oviedo 2013 Scrapbook by Abby Annis


Don’t miss the delightful blog by Oviedo student Hannah Lewman,  Summer 2015:





Visiting Faculty in 2013


Fall  2013


 Ethan Johnson

Ethan is an associate professor in the Black Studies Department at Portland State University.  His educational and research background is primarility  focused on how race and ethnicity in Latin America and the United states is experienced and represented in various forms.

Ethan says he sees his role as a faculty member in the Oviedo program as supportive.  He adds that  “for many students this will probably be their first time living and studying abroad.  Reflecting on my experiences living, working and studying abroad in Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador, these experiences have been among the most rewarding, but also challenging.  I want to be able to support students in their study abroad experience and hopefully provide them with the opportunity to develop both linguistic, cultural and general academic and life skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives.  I look forward to this exciting opportunity!

Ethan  will be teaching two courses  during the Fall 2013 term which will build on the local community in Oviedo and provide students an opportunity to reflect critically on their experiences while living abroad:

The Immigrant Experience in Spain

Over the last 15 years, as in much of Western Europe, large numbers of immigrants from many regions of the globe have come to Spain. This course will explore the contemporary immigrant experience in Spain. We will examine which groups are the primary immigrants in Spain. We will explore the reasons these groups of people have come to Spain. We will explore the various and diverse experiences these different groups have in Spain, paying special attention to educational, employment, health, and housing experiences. In addition, we will examine how immigrants to Spain are portrayed in mainstream media. In this course each student will be required to interview an immigrant of Spain and report on their findings to the class.

Race  and Ethnicity in Spain and Cuba Through Literature and Popular Culture

The course will examine comparatively how race and ethinicity are experienced in contemporary Spain and Cuba through literatura and popular culture. The course will be based primarily on reading and class discussion of race and ethnicity in Spain and Cuba.  In addition, we will examine additional representations of different racial and ethnic groups in popular culture in both countries.  We will also use a small number of academic articles that focus on how race and ethnicity are experienced in these two nations. During the term we will visit organizations representing racial an cultural groups and guest speakers will come to the cls their racial and ethnic experiences in Spain.



Discovering Spain, Past and Present

Professor Carlos Aguirre, Director of the Latin American Studies Program and Professor of History at the University of Oregon, and twice faculty alum of the Oviedo program, led this exciting two-week faculty led program on location in and around Oviedo, Spain in June of 2013.

Professor Aguirre’s intensive 2 week course introduced  students to  shifting representations of Spain by American visitors during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Students in the course were required to produce a series of written reflections of their gradual “learning” process about Spanish society and peoples.   In this way they would  be transcribing and discussing their own process of “discovery” of Spanish cultures, peoples, traditions, customs and mentalities,  and by doing so,  would be confronted with (and possibly question) their own assumptions about themselves and “others”. The course, taught in English,  consisted of  of nine class meetings,  several local visits, two evening film screening and discussion sessions, and one weekend excursion to Madrid.


Click here to hear what Professor Aguirre has to say about Oviedo and the Discovering Spain program.