I am officially that person who would rather stay at home writing on a Saturday night than going out drinking porrones in the club. I think I was always like this, but now I’m more content doing it knowing that I am really not missing anything by staying in and that I’m more productive, creative and at peace by listening to my heart. My heart’s been very talkative lately, and I have been lucky to have had time to listen to all that it is saying.
My mind has also been very active. This week, I attended eight different classes at the university, meticulously searching for the ones that would make me happy. Last semester’s hardships reminded me of some crucial university knowledge: the professor makes the class. The right professor can turn even the most arduous subject into something profound and life-changing, while a bad one…well, a bad one can leave you crying in a bathroom, or sitting miserably at your desk, frozen by the paralysis of knowing that you will never make sense of your unintelligible and incomplete notes.
It was really fun to dip my intellectual toes into the different academic approaches that are musicology, literature, art history, anthropology. The professors had a variety of accents, spoke at different speeds, paid more or less attention to their enunciation. Each discipline’s students all have their own feel, too. There is the nerdy-yet-hip vibe of the musicologists, the cultivated seriousness of the anthropologists, the furious note-taking of the art historians, and the decidedly varied composition of literature majors. I was happy to see people I recognized all over the place, and truly, this first week of the new semester showed me how many people I’ve met and connected with.
It’s so strange to look at the new exchange students’ struggles through the lens of last semester’s experiences. I realized that I know things now that they don’t and that I can’t really tell them. They will make mistakes with their schedules that they can’t fix and they will be stuck in classes that are impossible to pass. But I can’t really help them with that. The most I can do is point the way to the hidden classrooms and tell them which bus line they need to take to get to Plaza Nueva.
There is also a part of me that watches sadly as I pull away from the ones who are trying hard to make new friends. I feel a little bad as I give vague excuses why I can’t go out that night, but I realize now how hard it is to make room in your life when you have this whole tempo established already. They’re only here for the semester, they want to enjoy every minute and go out all the time and meet lots of people. Which is great and fine and they will probably have the time of their lives and be devastated when they leave just like the ones who were only here for the fall semester. I also want to enjoy every minute, but have realized that that includes spending lots of time alone while I still can, and investing my time and intellect in classes that truly have something to teach me.
By the way, I did fail Greek with a pitiful 2.6 out of 10. However, I passed Muslim art history with a stunning 9/10, which I still can’t really believe. Still waiting on Phonetics and Phonology, but honestly, it doesn’t even matter at this point because I’m just so relieved to put those three classes behind me.
Overall, there is a considerable lightness and contentment to my days now. There is so much to look forward to! I found two classes that are really interesting and I’m actually excited to attend them and do the readings and the syntheses. I am also taking Astronomy Online through my home university, which is mostly skim-reading and will wrap up two months earlier than the Spanish semester, so I am guaranteed some quality free time during my last months here. The weather, I’m told, is about to start warming up, which means all kinds of fun and games for which I haven’t had the heart nor core temperature since mid-November. Our socially and hygienically inept flatmate moved out, an emotionally-taxing friendship with a needy girl-child ended, and a myriad of other obstacles are thawing off and disappearing with the currents just like ice caps in a warming sea.
Also, my birthday is in a few weeks and I’m feeling super ready to take on my mid-20s! It feels weird to say, but I really feel like a woman these days. When people call me “a girl,” it sort of clunks to a halt in my comprehension, like it’s just not accurate. It’s a weird feeling to describe, like my body itself is heavier with the moments it has lived. (It’s also literally heavier; I’m pretty sure I’ve gained at least 10 pounds in the last two months— ha! Hello, love handles.) But it’s a comforting weight, not like I’m weighed down but that I’m anchored to the earth and to my goals by the mistakes that I’ve lived through. I feel very settled in my mind, like there is space for ideas and innovations to come through — and clearly the channels are open because I have been doing so much writing lately and it feels great.
More to come of course. I giggle a little at myself, knowing that at any moment I could revert to being a depressed, stressed wreck of a university student. But hey, what comes, comes, and I’ll get through it one way or another.