During my recent trip to Spain and since arriving on campus in Andover this week, I have been reflecting on Proctor's off-campus programs and the way these programs complement, support, and naturally extend from on-campus academics and activities. In our little corner of Segovia, Spain, where Proctor operates an off-campus linguistic and cultural immersion program, life seems to move at a slower pace, providing a natural opportunity for reflection and introspection.
Our final trip while in Spain was to Málaga, down south in Andalucía and in the same region as Sevilla. Everyone met at the bus station as we normally would. And blast off, on the bus to Madrid, then to the subway, then finally to the high-speed train. Three hours later were walking through the streets of Málaga to get to our hotel, taking in murals and graffiti, as well as the warmer temperatures. The rest of the afternoon consisted of free time to wander the city, shop, and explore. I got lost. Then we joined back with Ryan for a little orientation, getting gelato, and seeing an ancient Roman theater in front of an old Moorish castle. The day wound down with an excellent dinner at a Spanish-Argentinian fusion tapas restaurant.
Our day officially started at 1:30 pm when we met up at the aqueduct to head out to Madrid. We filled the bus for the hour-long drive we had all come to know well. We arrived and ate our bocadillos in the gardens in front of the Palacio Real. We sat absorbing the sun and enjoying the good weather as we finished up our lunches.
Friday: After waking up from a nice 10 am sleep-in, I got up out of my bed and threw on the outfit I had planned the night before. With my full bag of clothes, and the yummy bocadillo (sandwich) that my mom made me, I headed for the bus station. The travel was long and included an hour bus ride to Madrid, a two-hour train ride to Seville, and lastly a thirty-minute walk to our hostel.
Traveling to Barcelona has always been a dream of mine, so I was incredibly excited on the days leading up to our excursion. The travel day was very long and tiring. We were on a bus heading to Madrid by 10:30am, dashing on the metro to the “Renfe,” or Spanish train service, station as soon as we arrived. The train flew through the Spanish countryside and about three hours later we were in Barcelona. After another sweltering hot, sauna-like metro ride, we were within walking distance to our hotel. Exhausted, we took the 45 minutes of free time to do absolutely nothing — and I was totally happy that.
A Morning in Segovia - Tuesday, January 14th
Tuesday, January 14th was such a nice day and super fun. I started off in kind of a scramble waking up at 8:45 and needing to meet Ngan downstairs at 9. Luckily I had packed my bag and laid my outfit out for the day. I quickly got dressed and ready for the day and dashed down the stairs. I made at 9:00 am on the dot, and we walked out onto the beautiful street. Ngan and I live in the same apartment building; I live on the top floor and she lives a floor below me. It has been nice having someone in the same boat, trying to get used to everything in Segovia and navigating a new small city. As we walk to school we pass a couple of little city squares, one by the aqueduct which constantly seems to have people hanging out, talking, and listening to music.
Proximate learning does not occur without risk, but it is in those moments where students are living their education alongside the issues they are studying where world views are transformed. Tomorrow at noon, more than a third of Proctor's student body will submit applications to study abroad on one of our five term-long off-campus programs next year. Many will apply to study off-campus for the first time, while others will look to cap their Proctor experience with a second or third trimester abroad. So why is it that more than 80% of our students choose to study off-campus?