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Proctor en Segovia: Life in Spain, An Experiential Journey

Proctor en Segovia

Proctor en Segovia students have returned home, reuniting with their families. Before leaving Segovia, Spain, Liam '24, Sophie M. '25, and Stella '25 took a moment to reflect on their experience as their final days in Segovia unfolded. Often, the small, undocumented moments and daily decisions, aggregated over a term of living and learning abroad, resonate most powerfully. Congratulations to the fall 2023 Proctor en Segovia group for wholeheartedly embracing the immersion experience, discovering so much about themselves in the process.

Proctor Academy students study abroad in Spain

Liam '24 - Life in Spain: An Experiential Journey

Back in May, about two weeks before school got out, Bill told me about a late opening for Spain in the fall. He told me about the opening on a Friday and I had my application in by Monday. I was told that a few other students also put in an application, but I secured the spot. I was so ridiculously excited and couldn't wait to see what the fall held for me in Spain. My time here in Spain was one I will never forget. I strived to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible, improve my Spanish knowledge and speaking skills, and see what self-improvement I could achieve. Every single one of those goals was reached on this trip. 

Proctor Academy Experiential Learning in Spain

I am so glad that I pushed myself to immerse myself into the culture as much as possible here in Spain because by doing so, I also pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, which is self-improvement as well. The first part of Spain that I took advantage of was building a strong relationship with Luján. I know this isn't easy for some, but I totally lucked out with having Luján as my host mom because she is truly the best and super cool. Thankfully, even from the beginning of this trip, I had solid conversational skills, so I was able to communicate with Luján, who doesn't speak a lick of English. We began to build a close relationship, and I felt very comfortable with her. Luján is also very social and knows about all of the events going on in Segovia, so every time she was going to an event she would ask if I wanted to go as well and every time I said yes and went with her. Throughout our eight weeks together we went to three concerts, the Oktoberfest event, lunch with her and her best friend, Carmen, twice, and a puppeteering event in a rock climbing gym way out in New Segovia with the most progressive scene in Segovia. Saying yes was so beneficial because every time I went with her somewhere, I got to experience something new and something that I wouldn't have heard about without her. The second thing I'm glad I immersed myself in was deciding to take a dance class. It was a class for flamenquito which is a more relaxed party style of Flamenco dancing. It was the first dance class I had ever taken and I was the youngest person in the room by at least five to ten years and the only American, obviously. The class was so incredibly fun and I got to learn some really fun moves and got some great Spanish songs as well. 

Proctor en Segovia metal arts afternoon activity

Sophie M. '25 - Final Reflections

From learning how to just say yes and experience new things to trying something new and learning how to enjoy doing things by myself, this trip has been immensely helpful to my inner self and how I perceive the world around me. I couldn't be thankful enough to have been able to have this unique experience in Spain, especially in the circumstances of how it was all able to happen.

Sitting on a bus ride back from Madrid, I can't comprehend that in two days, I will be back in the U.S. Last night, my host family gave me a beautiful necklace with my initials on it, and it made me really come to terms with how lucky I have been to be a part of this experiment and in such a thoughtful family.

Proctor Academy students live with host families in Spain

At first, things were pretty awkward. Living with another family is never going to be seamless, but without them, I really don't know where I'd be at the end of this trip (without money, that's for sure!).  

As for my Spanish, I think I have made incredible strides. I remember feeling so lost on the first day, unable to communicate my thoughts. In my learning process, there have been a few funny/embarrassing moments. For example, not knowing how to turn the lights back on in the house and spending hours in complete darkness! But at the end of my time in Segovia, I feel more than prepared to communicate in any possible situation.

Proctor Academy Spanish immersion classroom

I think that is more important than just being book-smart. The main factor that contributed to my personal growth was my exploration of new places. Even though I was convinced that I was going to hate the walking portion of The Camino, it actually ended up being my favorite part. I felt closer to the group than ever, strong athletically and stimulated mentally. Being able to experience different towns/environments in one day on foot was something I have never thought was possible. Even though the weekend trips were my highlight, I also appreciated getting into a personal routine at home.

Of course, the traveling weekend trips were my highlight, but I also really appreciated getting into a personal routine at home. In general, the trips really made me feel like I was studying abroad and not just traveling as a tourist. It gave me the opportunity to have an army of personal freedom while still belonging to a cohesive learning environment. It gave me a lot of practice adapting to a new environment and learning about a whole new culture.

Stella '25 - Remember the Memories, Not the Photos

I'm alone in a dark room, scrolling through the countless photos on my phone from the last two incredible months I spent living in Segovia, Spain. As I scroll, the images transport me back, but it feels like it all happened so quickly. While the pictures prove I was there, my memories don't always match the vivid scenes. It's the moments I never captured with my camera that I can vividly recall. The familiar street I walked up and down daily, the majestic aqueduct, and the three different kinds of bus drivers whose faces I recognized but whose names remained a mystery. In these ordinary experiences, I discovered the true essence of my Spanish adventure.

Proctor Academy students study in Segovia, Spain

Celebrating a birthday at the school in Segovia!

I walked the same street to and from school every day; it took me ten minutes to get to the big aqueduct and an additional ten minutes to get to Plaza Mayor, where school sits. I could have walked that street with my eyes closed shut and remembering every bend and every corner with precise accuracy. It was never important enough or aesthetic enough to capture in a photo, but now, as I walk it for the last time, I realize how much time I spent walking that street. Lauren, Marion, and I walked that street together, and every time, we grew a little closer to each other. We had deep conversations as we returned home at 11:45 pm. We laughed till our stomachs hurt and rumbled on our way to la comida. We walked in silence on the cold mornings. We never stopped to enjoy our humble surroundings, which included the stone aqueduct we frequently crossed. 

We passed the stone aqueduct countless times, but until these last few days, I never looked up at it in thought. I had knowledge about it but never processed the size of the stone, the height, or the fact that it has no kind of solution between the rock layers holding it together; it just stands there. I never took a photo of it until now. I found it in the background of some photos, but I never thought I would want to remember what it looked like from my point of view. 

Proctor en Segovia experiential history study abroad

The bus beckoned as the days grew shorter and the air got sharper, finally becoming a necessary part of my everyday routine. At 9:00 am, I would leave my home to meet Marion at the corner to walk to our bus stop. 9:06, the bus would stop, and Lauren would get on. Then at 9:08, the bus would stop again, and Marion and I would get on this time. I would scan my red bus card and smile as I said "hola" to 1 of 3 bus drivers. The first was older, with a round face, thick eyebrows, and blue eyes; the second was shiny and bald, with brown hair and a coarse beard; and the third was younger, with tight, clear skin, thick eyebrows, and blue eyes. Their gracious faces are emblazoned in my mind, even if they serve as the intermediaries between home and school; their names, histories, and even pictures escape me.

Proctor Academy experiential learning about history in Spain through travel

The memories come flooding back as I sit by myself in my dark room and sift through the hundreds of pictures from my trip to Segovia, Spain. The photos attest to my presence, yet it all happened so quickly. The uncaptured moments hold more significance -- the everyday strolls along well-known roads, the magnificent aqueduct, and the anonymous bus drivers who eventually became recognizable figures. It was in these everyday encounters that I discovered the real purpose of my trip to Spain. Now that I'm thinking back, I see how important the little things, the jokes, and the quiet strolls were. I realize how I need to appreciate all the little things in my life just as much as I appreciate the big things because when they are taken away, all you will have are the memories. A series of recollections richer in detail than any snapshot.

 "Gracias Segovia"


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