Students participating in Proctor's off-campus program in Spain learn about culture and tradition through travel (as highlighted in the previous blog post about Holy Week in southern Spain). Learning is perhaps even more profound in their home city of Segovia, where they attend Spanish classes taught by longtime teachers Rosa and María José, participate in a metal engraving afternoon activity taught by celebrated local artist Jesús, and live with host families. They learn by experiencing and observing daily life and cultural activities in Segovia and Madrid (90 km or 27 minutes away by high-speed train).
Campbell '23: Metal Engraving and the Thursday Market
Never did I think that I would study abroad, especially in high school. After arriving four short weeks ago, my nerves were left in the U.S. while I was in Segovia, Spain. These past few weeks have flown by, and there are two things that I look forward to the most each week: metal class every Tuesday and the farmer's market each Thursday.
I have never been the artistic type. When I saw metal class as an option for activities, I wasn't very interested until multiple friends recommended it. Classes each Tuesday at 4:30 with Jesús as the instructor and four other girls in my group are filled with laughter, candy, and beautiful art. Each class, we walk into this dark store that smells like essential oils mixed with melting metal. After we trudge down the stairs the mood is immediately different, the lights are bright, and the music is blasting. Jesús' voice brings energy to us all after a day of classes; he is a loud, energetic, and a jokester of a man. He puts a blank piece of metal along with a printed paper of a hornet in front of me on the first day. Step by step, the flat piece of metal turned into this amazing hornet with small but needed details. Jesús always says, "You're never done, always more detail."
When I walk up to school every Thursday morning, the Plaza Mayor is crowded with booths filled with all different necessities. Anywhere from slippers to flowers, you are able to find it on Thursday mornings. The best part about it is being able to see all of the locals come out to get their needs for the week. All of the older people are dressed very nicely. If people in the United States were dressed that way, you would think they were headed to a business meeting. The sounds of laughter and small talk overtake the Plaza Mayor, strictly speaking in Spanish. These two days of the week submerse me in the Spanish culture; that is the primary reason that I am here.
Oz '23 - Modernism and More in Madrid
The Madrid day trip has fully sold our group on the virtues of the nation's capital. Upon arriving, we took a short walk to our first destination, the Museum called the Reina Sofia. We marched ourselves through the tall stone arches as our group made a point to take in the famous Picasso piece known as "Guernica." It is named after a town in the Basque region in Spain, and it is an abstract depiction of the chaos and pain which was brought upon the town by a Nazi bombing in the late 1930s. It boggles the mind that a man could convey these emotions in such an abstract image, but this is what I learned about the Reina Sofia: it is a collection of mind-boggling visuals. My memories of the top floor of the museum remain the most vivid, equally as provocative as it was overwhelming. It is often said about the best pieces of art that they "comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable." I have since concluded that I must be comfortable, because I found many of the pieces I saw unsettling in the way that the most absurd art often is.
Having been exposed to all of the bizarreness I had the capacity to handle, it was time for our group to seek out comfort in the tangible. Thus, burritos. As someone that has eaten my fair share of burritos in the U.S., I was once again reminded that when it comes to food, my home country is not on the same level. The assembly-line style restaurant we visited could be compared to a Chipotle, but writing that sentence feels quite unfair to the burrito I was blessed with in Madrid. Quality of ingredients is taken very seriously in Spain, and the burritos are no exception. This was a well-earned and much-needed meal, as our calories had been replenished enough to carry us through our final two hours of adventure.
Our final stop in Madrid was in the Plaza Mayor, the town square of the city. This part of the city epitomized the urban lifestyle. More shops and stores than the mind can register, streets filled with faces from all over the world, and a pair of gentlemen dressed in Mario and Luigi costumes, spreading their charm through the square. Having spent twenty minutes flickering our eyes across the square, half of us agreed that it was time to get ourselves some smoothies. This brings me to another virtue of the urban lifestyle Madrid offers: whatever it is that you need, it does not take a long walk to find it. This virtue was proven to us in a matter of two minutes. It was a smoothie to remember, and after cherishing this antidote to the spring sunlight blasting down, it was time to meet back with the others and take the metro to the bus to return to our host families. After opening my mind and draining my body, a nap came easily.
- Off-Campus Program
- Proctor en Segovia