Proctor en Segovia students learn about the Spanish language and culture in history, literature, and Spanish classes and simply by living with a Spanish host family. Powerful learning also occurs during week-long excursions to Spain's diverse regions. In this post, Phuc '23 and Thomas '24 reflect on their cultural immersion experience in Spain's Basque Country region.
Phuc '23 - Journey North to Navarra and The Basque Country
On Wednesday, our Proctor en Segovia group went on a 5-day, 4-night excursion. Prior to hearing the news, we were all excited to spend time out of Segovia and explore other parts of Spain that we’ve studied in History and English class. The day came, and we had class until noon. We were glad we didn’t have an assessment before the trip. Phew, that would’ve ruined our mood. At 12:30, we carried our luggage to the car park nearby and began our 4-hour journey to Navarre, Spain. The car ride was not bad at all, and time flew by so fast! The scenery was beautiful and there were so many animals, such as cows and sheep passing by. The majority of the group was sleeping, and everyone felt exhausted.
The moment when we arrived at our destination of Navarre, Spain, there were smiles of joy on our faces. We have done it! The 4-hour car ride was over and now we could finally rest! When we carried our luggage inside, we were assigned to our rooms; there were 3 doubles, 1 single, and 1 triple. I was glad to be assigned to my single, and I was lucky enough to have the space to myself.
This house was a group space, and I liked how Luis, our group director, told us the “30-minute phone rule” to avoid taking away from our experience by sharing pictures with our friends and family. But instead, we were able to enjoy the experiences on our own. Emma ‘23 told Luis not to give us the wifi password because this was a good environment for the group to chat and experience the beautiful mountainous view. I think this was a fantastic decision because we did not let our phones take away our Spain experience.
Phuc '23 - San Sebastián
On Friday, our group went to San Sebastian, the city known for its delicious food and beautiful beach. Well, that was not wrong; it was the truth! Before exploring the city, we went to a museum named “San Telmo Museo,” which exhibits the Basque Country’s history and culture. There were many paintings and artwork that are related to war and history. It was intriguing, and we even spotted a familiar painting. I remembered Luis telling us that “there will be one familiar painting.” Yes, we found it! Isn’t it Segovia, where we live? It really is! The details in the painting are astounding and the ambiance that the artist creates is unimaginable. The museum was an incredible experience because it enriched my knowledge about the Basque Country and its history.
After the museum visit, we had the opportunity to explore on our own. We had a goal to find tapas and eat them. It was an easy challenge because tapas were everywhere. Almost every restaurant I passed, there was a tapas restaurant. Tony and I went to the first restaurant that had tapas. The food tasted great, but the cheese was strange. There were so many flavors in my mouth that I couldn’t express what was going on. Later, Tony and I explored the city and came across a restaurant with a Michelin Guide rating. The restaurant was recommended by SY Cheng ‘23 and the food was amazing. Tony and I both had pigeons for our main course and a flavorful dessert to end our meal. We had fried milky bread with a vanilla ice cream scoop. This was arguably one of the best desserts I’ve had in my life. The price was a little bit expensive for two, around €55 a person. But, it was an experience to have, to be able to eat at a Michelin-rated restaurant. After lunch, we had time to explore on our own. We went to stores to check out clothes and souvenirs. It was an impeccable experience to be spending time in San Sebastian. I loved every bit of the trip, and I am looking forward to more trips from Proctor en Segovia.
Thomas '24 - Bilbao
On the second day of our excursion, we went to Bilao to Visit the famous Guggenheim Museum. As we approached the city, everyone's face lit up when we saw the abstract architectural design of the Guggenheim museum. We parked and headed to the museum. As we walked around and looked at the building, every angle of the building was different from the rest. The museum itself was extremely clean looking and sophisticated. Though there were many people inside, the museum was extremely quiet. We split off into groups, and Eric and I started to explore. There were so many things to see, so we immediately went to the third floor and worked our way down. Each section of the museum was influenced by a different period of art. There were paintings of abstract expressionism stripping everything of its realistic form and minimizing it. These paintings make you think about what the artist was trying to achieve or picture. Though the museum had much to offer us, I found myself amazed at the steel-shaped columns that were one of the first exhibits in the museum. Each different from the other, they all had value for different reasons. The difference in sound and the visible differences in the rusted metal had me in awe. Just the idea of creating something this massive that is so remarkably diverse had me dumbfounded. These were just a few of the many types of art and styles these artists brought to the Guggenheim museum.
Thomas '24 - Surfing in Spain
When Luis told me I might have the chance to go surfing, he immediately got my attention. As a kid who was raised by two surfers who moved from Hawaii right before I was born, surfing has always had a place in my heart. It had never crossed my mind that I would be able to surf in Europe. After a nice lunch, Luis and I went to a rental shop, and they had me fitted for a suit and board. The surf looked nice but a little unpredictable as there wasn't any identifiable peak. I got a 10-foot longboard and said goodbye to Luis as I headed for the water. Paddling out, I could feel my back start to warm up and the cold salty water on my face.
Surfing is unlike any sport where you are trying to paddle through constant waves just to surf back to where you were. If you have ever been surfing, you know that to get to the waves, you're going to get wet. The water wasn’t as cold as I anticipated. It felt like a chilly spring day on the East Coast. Once I reached the outside break I had to locate where the best peak was or where the wave broke the best. It took me about ten minutes of positioning myself before I took off on my first wave. I paddled until I felt the board lift up, and I popped up and felt the wave begin to carry me. I took a quick bottom turn and got off so I didn't have to paddle all the way back out.
I probably caught five nice waves in the span of an hour, each wave different from the other. It was nice that I was alone and had no fear of great white sharks. Though sharks are scary, I wasn't scared because there are few if not any sharks in the Basque Country waters. Towards the end, my calf started to cramp up, and on one wave, I completely nosedived and went tumbling down. I knew my time was up and paddled in. I was glad that I got to surf, and that was the highlight of my entire trip in Spain so far. I had missed the salty ocean water and the fun to be had in its waves.