Last week was a whirl wind of swiping metro cards, deciding which classes to add or drop, and shoes beginning to wear from the journeys around Madrid. When I began this week, I had dreams that it would become like a pattern I didn’t have to think about anymore. However, it is not so. I am still adjusting to my schedule, to commuting abut 30 minutes to school, and spaces between classes.
This week I started an art history class at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. It is my only class that is apart from my program. It is filled with heritage Spanish speakers from Madrid, so being the odd one out felt intimidating. I had missed the first two classes because I added it late, but I was excited. When the class began, I almost burst into tears. The teacher was speaking too fast and I could only pick up a couple of words at a time.
Lost in the constant and hurried typing of the classmates around me, I sat frozen, trying to even remember how to comprehend what was happening. I felt defeated, but after 30 minutes, I was able to become accustomed, even though I still hasn’t completely figured it out, I felt better. The next class, I talked to some students around me and they helped me. They offered to share notes and my program offered me a tutor for this class so I am content.
My new university is huge. Its very different from the United States. The campus is enormous because every department has their own building and library. Here, when you are in school, you don’t take interdisciplinary courses, you have all your classes in just your major. I’m not sure I would like to have it that way. I think I am very indecisive, but I do think it makes for strong alumni. The campus is covered in graffiti written by the students. Most of it is about or relating to anarchy, communism, or marxism, which I find interesting.
Although I feel out of place, there is a park near the school that I get to walk through for my ceramics class. It is huge and covered in trees with little rivers and creeks that run through it. There are always dogs in the park running, and playing. As I walk through the park, I find myself feeling mentally and physically somewhere where I belong. It reminds me of the hikes I take with my dog on the Wissahickon train behind my parents house. Maybe, I do not have a space waiting for me here— that someone was waiting for me to fill, but I have realized that I can make space for myself. I can find spaces where I can stretch my legs as far as they can go, and find places where I do not feel ashamed about not being completely fluent and looking different from most people here.
I’m more than elated to work on making more space for myself here and growing confidence.