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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Douglas Schaaf
Summer 2001

This summer I studied abroad in London, England. The program I participated in was 14 weeks long. I studied for the first six weeks at Boston University's building in South Kensington. The remainder of the program I worked a non-paid internship at ING-Barings. I earned four credits for the internship because it was non-paid. Although I was very busy with schoolwork and an internship, I still managed to travel on the weekends. I was lucky enough to visit Wales, Dublin, Paris, Rome, Milan, Florence, Barcelona, Pamplona, Zurich, and Interlaken. I could write pages on all my experiences in each city, but I have chose to talk about Pamplona, Spain.

In Pamplona some courageous young friends of mine and myself decided to run with the bulls. The encierro or running of the bulls is the single most characteristic event of the Fiesta of San Fermin. This event has given the Fiesta worldwide fame and appears on news broadcasts around the world during that special week in July. Ernest Hemmingway made the festival famous in his book The Sun Always Rises. It is held at eight o'clock each morning from the 7th to the 14th of July. It consists largely of young men (although it admits all types) who run in front of raging bulls to lead them from their pen and into the bull-ring. It usually lasts from two to three minutes—although if there are complications due to loose bulls it can last much longer.

The runners who gather at the bottom of Santo Domingo—the starting line—are crowded together as they sing a homily to the image of San Fermin, which is placed in a niche on the wall, is decorated with the scarves of the peñas. The song goes like this: "A San Fermin pedimos, por set nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición" ("We ask San Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the Bull Run and give its his blessing."). It is tradition for young male Spaniards because the first run for a young man signifies his entrance into manhood. A rocket goes off at the moment the bulls are let out into the street. A second rocket goes off to let everyone know that all the bulls are now in the street. The length of the run is about a half a mile. The entrance to the arena is extremely narrow causing congestion. This is where most people often get gored or even killed. After running the entire course and getting within ten feet from one of the bulls, I jumped on the fence just before the entrance to the bullring. This turned out to be one of my smarter decisions in life. In the next few seconds I watched two bulls stampede two young males. Once in the bullring two bulls are let into the arena, and people are allowed to taunt the bulls. This was also very amusing.

In the end we survived and it turned out to be one of the most memorable moments in my life. This will provide many stories for my children and friends. My experience in Europe was the best time of my life and I learned more than I could have ever learned in a classroom. I would like to thank the Honors College for the scholarship once again.