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Proctor en Segovia Fall 2014

Taking the Bull by the Horns

The adventure begins!

Finally September 8th arrived. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the back seat of the car with a stomach full of nervous butterflies, making my last minute phone calls, on my way to the Boston Airport. Not only was I processing that I was about to meet my classmates who I hadn’t seen since May, I was also about to leave my family and friends behind and jump into my junior fall in a foreign country outside the United States that I had never been to. We arrived at the airport and stood in line to check our bags. While my classmates and I reunited, our parents talked with Brooks. Finally, the time came to take our final pictures with our parents and say our goodbyes. We walked through security, waving goodbye to them until we could no longer see them. Not long after boarding, we got settled on our plane and took off. Six hours later, we slowly descended from the clouds and prepared to land. Madrid’s golden lights lit up the early morning darkness outside our small plane window. From that moment on, I realized I had begun the adventure that I had been talking about since February when I applied.
 
~ Colby Near
 
One warm fall afternoon the group ventured to nearby Valsaín to swim, explore, and pick (and eat) blackberries.
 
 
 
Fall is a wonderful time of year in Segovia.  The oppressive summer heat is over and the temperature is usually very comfortable.  So we try to be outside as much as possible.
 
Horses grazing in the distance
 
Photo credit: Nick Takahashi
 
Every Thursday this market is set up in Segovia's Plaza Mayor and we take advantage to get delicious, healthy snacks.
 
The fruits of the season: grapes and many varieties of plums
Blackberries too!  We picked some during our trip to Valsaín.

Our insanely large bus for just seven people pulled up to the curb, just outside the Segovia train station located on the outskirts of the city, and we unloaded our luggage. We stood on the curb for about five minutes when all of a sudden I hear my name called by Ryan. I walk over to Ryan to see him standing next to a middle-aged woman, smiling energetically.
        "Hola! Me llamo Nick!" I say, just before giving her a light peck on each cheek in greeting.
        "Hola! Me llamo Ana!" she replied.
I was just about to say "nice to meet you" when I realized that I had no idea how to say it. I managed to awkwardly stutter out a "Bien" as we begin walking towards her car.
 
The first couple days in Segovia were very similar to that first encounter with my host family. My host madre and host padre don't speak a word of English and if it hadn't been for David-Luis and his relatively good English skills, I would not be able to convey a single message to my host family, never mind the fact that I also can't speak their dialect either. Overall, interaction between my host family and me was very awkward and consisted of a lot of desperate motioning with my arms and legs until the third day when I showed them a decent amount of family pictures. They were fascinated by my background which made me confident as well as very proud of my heritage. I told them everything I possibly could about my family and they were intrigued. This was my first proper conversation with my host family.
 
- Nick Takahashi
 
From our school balconies we watch a parade to mark the beginning of the school year at Segovia's Artillery Academy.
 
Nick on the school balcony with his Spanish teacher, Rosa
 
A photo of Colby and Paris taken from the school balcony!  Their Spanish assignment was to ask Segovia police officers some questions about the city.
Students working on Proctor en Segovia's newspaper, written entirely in castellano, of course!
 
 
The chicos examine a restaurant menu as part of a scavenger hunt.
 
Paris' caprese salad enjoyed outside on a warm Friday evening in Segovia's old quarter
 
Nick is excited for dessert!
And then we were off for the weekend to explore some small towns in Castilla.  Here we are at the top of the castle in Coca.

Saturday marked our fifth day in Spain and the first weekend excursion. Our first adventure was a multi-layered journey through three separate small towns outside of Segovia. In the first we took a tour of a castle. In the second we ate a traditional dished called cochinillo, which is from Segovia and made of a baby pig who has only drunk its mother’s milk. And in the third town we watched a midnight running of the bulls. The first stop to the castle was very intriguing. We spend a lot of time learning about history but actually seeing history in a physical state like the castle was fascinating. The next stop on our road trip was to another small town called Nieva where an exquisite lunch was waiting for us. We arrived and settled into the house where we were spending the night and then headed over to the soccer/basketball court for some friendly afternoon competition. After that it was finally lunch time! In Spain lunch is the main meal of the day and can turn into a three to four hour meal. Our meal was a series of traditional dishes, but the main dish was a baby roasted pig that had only ever had its mother’s milk. Seeing a full pig was strange, but once I got over that it was the most tender, rich and tasty pork I had ever eaten. With full bellies we piled back in the car at 11:00 pm and headed to our final event of the day, the running of the bulls. We had to get there early so we could get good seats in the plaza (bull fighting ring). It didn’t take long till the whole stadium was full of people. Everyone was sitting there eagerly awaiting the arrival of the men running with the bulls and, of course, the bulls. This event was different from others because in the end they didn’t kill the bull or hurt it during the event. Right before the bulls entered the ring the band struck up an exciting Spanish song, and when the gates opened and the first men raced in followed by an angry looking bull I could feel the Spanish culture like the air on a hot humid day. After an hour of watching near misses and one trampling, it was time for the bulls to be put away, but not us! We spent the next two hours in a late night street Fiesta, with bumper cars, dancing and churros and chocolate. And we all went to bed that night knowing we had just had our first of many real Spanish adventures complete with a history lesson, fun and food.
 
~ Allie Clarke
 
 
 
 
 
Exploring Coca's medieval wall
 
Photo credit: Nick Sawaya
Cochinillo (suckling pig) for lunch
 
The chef "tio" Ramón
 
Then there was time for baloncesto (basketball)
 
Cartwheels
 
And fútbol with some locals
Our home base for the weekend: the quaint little town of Nieva
 
 
Our evening entertainment was a traditional running of the bulls in Nava de la Asunción. (Photo credit: Nick Takahashi)
 
Photo credit: Nick Takahashi
 
Photo credit: Nick Takahashi
 
After the bulls there were bumper cars
 
 
and a bouncy house!
 
On Sunday we had delicious paella for lunch.
 
Then we said farewell to this little house, our home for the weekend.
 
Back in Segovia! (Photo credit: Paris Healey)
 
¡Hasta pronto!
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  • brooks Bicknell
    Great post and photos. Que suerte! Dar recuerdos a Maria y Rosa. - Brooks
  • Mike Henriques
    This is one of the most comprehensive, inspiring blogs I have ever read from Spain! Wow. Your narrative, your photos, and the energy they convey, creates a wonderful window into the learning and living in Spain. Powerful.
  • Ethan Johnson
    Have fun y'all. Tell Maria Jose I said hello, will you?
  • Kristen Nesbitt
    I loved reading about all of your adventures and seeing the pictures. I think you are right, Colby, this is an adventure of a lifetime. Hope you are loving every minute. LS(Colby) and lab (Allie)are not the same without you this fall:) Miss you!
  • maria jose ORTEGA ROKISKI
    me gusta¡¡¡¡que fotos mas bonitas y que divertido¡¡¡¡¡ que programa mas fantástico¡¡¡¡
  • Rachel MacDuffie
    It looks like a great time, it is such wonderful pace. I love seeing the pictures.
  • Erik Cole-Johnson
    Lucky, lucky, lucky! How about a Skype with my Spanish 1 class one of these days?
  • Sarah McIntyre
    Looks like fun! Thanks for all the great photos and updates.
  • Valerie Ferris
    Great to see all of you! I love hearing about all of your adventures. Keep the blogs coming and the great photos!
  • john ferris
    Thank you for the post and update on the start of your adventure & learning in Spain. Pig, bulls, paella, host families....you are already in it. enjoy!
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