Outside my Comfort Zone

Megan and Isabel getting ready to draw some trees in Retiro Park today!

It’s funny how outside of my home country and university, away from my family and most of my friends, I truly feel like I am getting to know myself. Certainly, the classes I am taking are contributing to that.

Art definitely pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I’ve planned to take my art credits abroad since freshman year, thinking it would be a nice break from my International Relations and Community Health courses. While it is certainly a break, it has not been easy! First, let’s talk about the Prado class. Our classroom is the Prado museum, the oldest museum in the world. Our professor seems to know every inch of the museum, taking us to exhibits that people who have come to the Prado dozens have times have never seen. I never knew there was so much symbolism and so many clues hidden within a painting that reveal its story. Last weekend in Toledo, I was so to figure out the angels in El Greco’s painting through their halos.
I’m also taking Sketchbook, which genuinely terrifies me at times. While I doodle margins of my notebooks, I would not consider myself an artist at all. However, bit by bit we are learning to take apart the objects we want to draw. When the professor, Pepa, complimented my crosshatching last week, I was overjoyed, though I still need to make progress drawing straight lines. Though sketching is still intimidating to me, I am proud to be making progress to express myself in a new way.

Of course, there’s also the Spanish Grammar class. While I am used to taking Spanish at Tufts, this class is far more practical and accelerated than any class I’ve ever had. The professor’s name is Enrique and he refers to each class as a family. He’s enthusiastic and makes us enthusiastic for class, as well! We learn the useful vocab and grammar that our American classrooms overlooked, and how to talk with more of a Madrid accent. I genuinely look forward to Spanish class, because each new class means I can communicate with my host family and Spanish friends a little bit better, and because it’s actually fun! For the first time in a long time, I felt truly prepared for a vocabulary quiz, because every day I was “studying” by pointing out the names I was learning of different objects and by using new phrases.

I am also doing an internship at the Parkinson’s Association for credit, but that deserves its own post! Compared to my classes at Tufts, the classes I am taking here are doing much more to expand my worldview and abilities through experiences. Today, my friends Megan and Isabel and I even brought our sketchbooks to the park, and when we felt inspired, we sat down to draw some trees!
Not every class or interaction goes perfectly, but growth is hard. Successfully pushing past my comfort zone is making me more confident in my words and actions. I can’t wait to see where I push myself to next.


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