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Castilian Impressions

Here begins the story of Proctor en Segovia Spring 2014!  (Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank)


 
Over the next two months, Proctor students will tell tales of their adventures in Segovia and throughout Spain.  (Photo credit: Ethan Johnson)

Stories of exploring tiny pueblos in Castilla (Photo credit: Michael Hovem)

Enjoying the spectacular city that we call home (Photo credit: Ethan Johnson)

The arrival in Segovia is the real start of Spain. Buses pass by, taking corners in narrow medieval streets at astonishing speeds. The Spanish flag flutters in the wind on the Teatro Juan Bravo above the Plaza Mayor. An old man walks buy on a cobblestoned street. A pigeon lands on a well-pruned tree. A waitress serves a hot chocolate in Café La Colonial. All very European. Very Spanish.

The cafés have excellent croissants, of the type that simply cannot be found in the United States. Just like Barcelona. There is no permanent indoor market, filled with jamón and the smell of olives. Why is there not? If in Barcelona, why not here? Expectations are formed by past experiences. If Barcelona had a market, so should Segovia. They are both in Spain, after all. But they are not the same. They could almost be in different countries. Possibly soon will be. But, for one who has lived in Barcelona, expectations of the long-awaited return to Spain are formed by experiences in Barcelona. Segovia is very different. Where are the Italian-import food stores? The blue Mediterranean and white sand beaches? The sounds of Catalan and Castilian mixing, the tree-lined boulevards of l’Eixample, the distant hulking mass of Montserrat?

Segovia is quite different from Barcelona, from the memories of Barcelona, from the expectations of Segovia that were created by the memories Barcelona. That is not a bad thing. The expectations of Segovia, formed as they were from the memories of Barcelona, are different than the reality of Segovia. Not better or worse, only different. Segovia has many surprises that are better than the expectations. The almost-unparalleled Roman aqueduct, the walkability of the center, the surrounding parks, and the setting near the snow-peaked mountains, to just name a few.

~ Liam McNiff


 
 
Teaching Ryan secret handshakes.

Watching the sunset by Segovia's Alcázar

 
Views outside the city (Photo credit: Tristan Stenzel)

Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank
 
Protest just outside our school building in favor of affordable education for all.

Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank

Photo credit: Michael Hovem

Ethan, the castle, and stormy skies

Chocolate con churros

Delicious (Photo credit: Ethan Johnson)

With a certain air of purpose and urgency, walking down the slight incline away from the Plaza Mayor, I slow down as a glass door pane door slides out of the way to reveal the familiar smell of coffee and pastries. Walking past a great collection of baked goods, all promise to satisfy my growling stomach; low prices and chocolate only make the prospect more tempting. As I approach the marble counter, I notice the young woman behind the counter desperately trying to clean and make coffee. Staring off into space, the breeze from the glass sliding doors opening and closing was chilling, yet also refreshing. After a few minutes the woman behind the counter decided she was at last, ready to take my order. I open my mouth, but I realize that I had yet to decide. Knowing that the lady would not give me time to think, I ordered. Only a few seconds later an immaculate black tray sat in front of me and moments later came the tea, the cup, and milk. The woman smiles, swiftly takes my money and runs off continuing her seemingly urgent work. I carefully select a table as I nervously walk across the tiled floor, through the small crowd of people, holding the tray firmly in my hands. I slowly place the tray down and cringe when I hear the horrid sound of my chair sliding from under the table. Now, comfortable mixing the tea as I watch the color turn from a hollow brown to a rich, creamy brown. Twisting the spoon with my index and thumb fingers the faint clanks of the spoon and the cup are calming.

~ Patrick Bauer-Blank

Students have learned to navigate Segovia by bus

They purchased snacks at the Thursday market in the Plaza Mayor (Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank)

(Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank)

Observing the Plaza from the school's balconies (Photo credit: Faith Kenyon)

Our first Saturday trip took us to the Palacio Real de San Ildefonso de la Granja (Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank)

Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank

Fountain in the gardens of La Granja

Signs of spring!


The first step in my cultural immersion was to meet my new family. Besides the quick blurb I had written about myself, and the one I had received that was written about them, we were basically strangers. Being with a host family was my biggest worry before coming to Spain. I was afraid I would not be able to communicate; I was right. But, that is something that makes the experience better in my opinion. Our inability to correctly say exactly what we want is always something to laugh about, and any frustrations are quickly diminished by humility. The best thing I've realized so far in my host family is to not take myself so seriously. I love to teach my family new words in English and listen to them try and repeat after me. Not because their accents are strange but because when they finally get it right, their smiles are priceless. And I've realized that this is exactly how they feel when I am attempting to communicate with them. I'm not hassling them with my garbled, mispronounced Spanish; they love to teach me and they love to watch me learn. Since I am usually shy and introverted, I am surprised at how much time I spend with my host family around the dinner table and staying up late to watch Spanish game shows.

~ Faith Kenyon

On Sunday Segovia host a half marathon road race.

Streets were filled with people cheering on the runners.  The aqueduct marked the finish line.

There was musical entertainment all over the city in celebration of the event.
 
http://youtu.be/lP6PmZp-QuU

Proctor alumni Jackson Bicknell and Dafne Leidi visited Segovia!  Jackson ran the half marathon in an impressive 1 hour 36 minutes! 

Once I was in Spain, I knew the food was going to be amazing. Jamón serrano is a type of meat that has been cured for a year or two depending on the meat. I would beg my dad to buy it for me when we went shopping in Hong Kong; no matter how much I begged him he would never buy it. In Segovia every morning my host mother makes me a delicious jamón sandwich.

Not everything is about food though. Spain is a place of amazing culture and history.  In Segovia there stands one of the best preserved aqueducts in the world. Many cultural influences have affected Segovia. The first to settle in Segovia were the Celts, then eventually Segovia was handed over to the Romans. Modern day culture in Segovia is amazing. People stay up till one in the morning on weekdays! During the middle of the day everything stops and people go home to have lunch with their families.

The best part of the midday break is that it cuts school off and we get to enjoy lunch with our families and the traditional Spanish siesta (midday nap.) The program that Proctor has set up in Segovia is amazing. There are no math or science classes which makes life easier.  The life of the Spanish Proctor is more relaxed; there are three classes: English, Spanish, and History. The classes are small, which is good for me because I find I focus more. Although the small classes are a plus, I find the best thing about this program is the trips. The trips make the program so enjoyable. Also, they get us out of the classroom setting and gives us a better understanding of our surroundings.

~ Tristan Stenzel

Students have chosen their afternoon activities.  Tristan lifts.

Liam explores around Pedraza's castle.

Ethan's metal project

Michael's metal project is, not surprisingly, devoted to his favorite football team!

Michael with metal arts instructor, Jesús.

Students practice their español in a language exchange with Spanish teenagers.

Michael climbs, Faith photographs

Proctor en Segovia mascot, Gatito keeps an eye on things in our neighborhood.
 
http://youtu.be/hkRcyvHYexE

The cycling group bikes to La Granja.
 
Photo credit: Ethan Johnson
 
Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank

Photo credit: Patrick Bauer-Blank

Photo credit: Ethan Johnson

Strolling by the aqueduct

Adiós until next week!
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  • joan saunders
    I am amazed at the exquisite quality of the photography and their compositions! Ethan and Patrick- well done!!! Enjoy all the wonders, and know we cannot wait to see more!
  • David Fleming
    Photographs are spectacular. I love reading your impressions. Looks like a fun group. Have a wonderful spring.
  • john ferris
    Oh my gosh.....if the quality of these photos is any indication of what we will see all term....we are in for a treat. The photos of the fence, city, Faith with phone, coffee....incredible! Really well done! The description of transitions...terrific. What a gift to have Proctor alums visit. Enjoy!
  • Jennifer Fletcher
    I really enjoyed seeing these beautiful photos and reading about your transition to living in Segovia! Keep up the good work and enjoy every moment of this special experience!
  • brooks Bicknell
    Great Post you guys. Thanks for cheering on Jackson!
Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
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