Proctor en Segovia students visit the Prado museum and attend a Real Madrid match, explore vineyards in La Rioja, a windfarm near Burgos, celebrate Paris' 17th birthday, and more! Enjoy photographs and students' writing.
María takes her Spanish class to local cafes and restaurants to practice the vocabulary they are studying in class.
Mikaela's purchases from Segovia's Thursday market. Students loved the pomegranate (granada en español.)
Mikaela and Ryan had dinner with Nick T., his host family and their brand new kitten.
Nick holds the sleeping kitty. So precious!
Colby with her host parents
I am now in Spain, and have been here for five weeks and it is going by too fast. At first, when I arrived at my homestay and first met Paqui, my host mom, Antonio, my host dad, and Jimena, my little host sister, I felt genuinely overwhelmed by the language and worried about settling into my family’s routine, along with my own. Paqui would speak so fast that I was unable to pick up on any verbs to try and make sense of what she was trying to say to me. I would constantly say “Sí” whether I understood them or not. It seemed that this was an easier way, but, as I started noticing their confused facial expressions when I would say “Sí," I decided that I should probably start trying to decipher and understand what they were saying. From there, I started to ask them to speak slower or repeat what they had said another time. Surprisingly, it ended up not being as hard as I thought. In fact, I may even say it’s quite easy!
After being here for five weeks so far, I feel as if my host family is my long lost second family. The laughs are endless and, surprisingly enough, we all talk a lot. Paqui’s father, who’s name I am unsure of, often joins Paqui, Antonio, and me at lunch. He isn’t the easiest person to understand, for I believe he is in his early or mid nineties. Dinners with Paqui and Antonio are usually joined by Jimena and her parents. Lunch and dinner are the meals I have with them and they are usually the best parts of my day.
Paqui’s cooking and grandmotherly energy reminds me a lot of my grandmother, who, unfortunately passed away this past summer unexpectedly. In a weird way, I find this to be comforting. She loves to cook and her food is delicious; I always leave meals feeling overstuffed and happy. When I enter the house for lunch or for my nightly curfew, Paqui or Antonio are home. When they hear the door close, they yell “Coby!” and welcome me with a great big smile. They are always very willing to do anything to make sure I am comfortable and that my stay is going well, including today when Paqui woke up extra early just to make me a sandwich and make me breakfast when she could have slept in. Dinners are never boring because they are usually the time that Jimena is craziest, right before she has to go upstairs to bed afterwards. The other night, in the middle of dinner, Antonio came into the kitchen and started singing the macarena song and Paqui, Jimena, and Jimena’s mom all got up and started to do the dance. I could not stop laughing and I couldn’t believe how crazy my family was. Jimena grabbed my hand and made me stand up and join them. And there we were, all five of us crammed into this tiny kitchen dancing to the macarena and singing. I never would have guessed that I would be so comfortable and able to be my crazy self while speaking the Spanish language in a foreign household. When I return to the US, I am going to keep in touch with my host family as much as possible, and hopefully next summer I might actually return to Spain for a family vacation. I honestly could not have asked for a better host family and I don’t ever want to leave.
~ Colby Near
Colby's photo from a trip to the Castillo de Turégano
Paris captures the castle on a beautiful day
Metal projects are coming along beautifully.
Every Wednesday and Thursday, I look forward to 4:30 when we spend a couple of hours with Jesús and the amigos. Jesús is a great guy who is famous for his almost correct sayings in English. Some of his sayings are: "Touch finish" (when he really means "finishing touch") or "A moment in my life!" (when he really means "Give me a minute"/"hold on!) Right now, we are working on engraved, metal covered boxes, however, my personal favorite project was definitely the one where we picked a photo or a symbol and then traced it into a sheet of metal that was lying on top of a block of wood. I chose to do the cover of my favorite hip hop album of all time called "The Documentary."
With only three weeks left, the term has flown by and I'm sad that I can't stay longer here. This has been an incredible experience so far and I hope to end strong!
~ Nicholas Takahashi
On Thursday afternoons everyone cooks!
Our salad chef
Paris, Colby, Allie, and Stu spend one afternoon each week reading to and playing with children at the Centro Cultural de San José.
We practice our Spanish by playing and drawing with the kids and teach them English through stories and songs.
Paris and Colby climb an oak tree during a photography trip to the Palacio Real de Riofrío (Photo credit: Colby Near)
Photo credit: Paris Healey
Stuart and Ryan bike in the foothills of the Guadarrama mountains, heading south from Segovia towards Madrid.
We ran into Allie's host mom and dad in the Plaza Mayor!
I'd never thought I would be an "hijo" (son) in another family. My host mother Carmen is constantly calling me "hijo" to the point where I often think she enjoys saying it. Her use of the word spans from "gracias hijo," to "adios hijo," or addressing me as "hijo" instead of my name. She has trouble saying my name, Nick, so I think that's why she likes "hijo" instead. When she says Nick it comes out as "knee-ck," and, in the beginning of the term, I wouldn't respond when she called me, so I'm pretty sure she knows she's saying it wrong.
I've certainly developed a stronger Spanish vocabulary from living with Carmen and Santiago. At first it was manageable to talk to them, but it has become easier over time, and I don't see it as much of a struggle as I did before. I have learned a lot about how to become a part of another family. I'm genuinely happy being around them, and I know I'll miss them when I leave. Knowing that Carmen and Santiago aren't computer savvy, I plan on writing a letter of some sort when I return to states soon.
~ Nick Sawaya
Cyclists on Sunday morning in Madrid
A Madrid parking job
Wedding photos on the sidewalk in Madrid
Saturday night in Madrid's Puerta del Sol
Paris turns 17! ¡¡¡Feliz cumpleaños!!!
What better way to celebrate Paris' birthday than with a Real Madrid match?
“GOAAAL” exclaimed the announcer and the stadium went wild. “CRISTIANO RONALDO! CRISTIANO RONALDO!” chanted the lively fans as he danced around the field and celebrated with his teammates. That was the moment I realized that I was actually sitting in that blue plastic
stadium seat, one section away from the bright green field, at a Real Madrid soccer game against Athletic Club Bilbao. The game continued with another goal from Ronaldo and one more from Benzema leaving Real Madrid up 3-0 at halftime. The surreal feeling of being present at the game blurred my thoughts so much that, before I knew it, there were eight minutes left in the second half. Madrid was now up 4-0 with another goal from Ronaldo. Again, the stadium chanted “CRISTIANO RONALDO! CRISTIANO RONALDO!” The game ended with a goal from Kroos, finishing the game with an inevitable score of 5-0 Real Madrid. The team all ran towards each other and jumped on one another in celebration, while Club Atletico Bilbao moped their way to the locker rooms. Once we left the stadium, we celebrated the last few European minutes of Paris’s 17th birthday with some much-needed water, and two scoops of gelato each at a café. We boarded our private bus for an hour drive back to Segovia and each were safely back into our houses and catching up with our host families around 1:30 am.
~ Colby Near
The crew after a great game!
Allie's mom and sisters visit us in Segovia!
And then we were all off to La Rioja right in the middle of the grape harvest.
We visited the beautiful walled town of Laguardia, located on the border between the La Rioja region and Basque Country
Then we explored numerous vineyards. With a backdrop of flowers and mountain ranges, we munched on grapes. So many grapes!
Agriculture is extremely important in la Rioja as it produces a large portion of Spain's grapes, wheat, barley, asparagus (and other crops). In the fall many varieties of mushrooms grow in La Rioja as well. We purchased some to have with dinner. (Photo credit: Nick Sawaya)
Photo credit: Nick Takahashi
The fall group with Allie's sisters! (Photo credit: Allie's mom)
Allie with her little sister (Photo credit: Nick Takahashi)
Allie's mom helps us prepare a fabulous group dinner on Saturday night in La Rioja!
Grateful for good food and friends
To end our weekend in La Rioja we cooked a delicious meal of chicken, mashed potatoes and a colorful salad. It was just like being home cooking dinner with my real family. I really felt like Spain had become my home that weekend, even though we were always traveling to different cities. No matter where we cooked, it was like we were a real family. Everybody helped in their own way and contributed to the greater goal.
~ Allie Clarke
Throughout our travels in Spain we have driven past and seen hundreds of windmills. The most memorable windmills are always on top of mountains and make something thousands of years old look modern. On our way back from our weekend excursion in la Rioja, we came across a farm of windmills. After driving back and forth, we finally found the access road. As we took the passenger "swagger wagon 2.0" down the pothole covered gravel road, we eventually reached an infinitely tall windmill. The tri-bladed tower looked to always be spinning slowly from a distance, but the closer I got the more I realized that this was only on optical illusion. The center point where the three blades met was spinning rapidly, but the size of the blades and the giant distance from each blade tip made them seem liked they were spinning slowly. Seeing these massive windmills up close was a truly awesome experience.
~ Cole Bickford
On our way back to Segovia, the students spotted windmills near the highway and wondered if we could see them up close. Everyone helped navigate our way to the turbines.
Photo credit: Stuart Hull
We ran through fields, gazed in amazement at these giant wind turbines, and imagined the renewable energy being produced. But, alas, so much running and frolicking in the wind caused Cole's iPhone to fall out of his pocket.
The group spent twenty minutes searching through fields and tall grass with no luck. Just as we were about to leave, Stu spotted the cell phone - no easy task in this vast area! Cole was grateful to have his phone back and to have friends willing to comb through tall grass with him in search of something he'd lost.