Missteps and Musings

by pvakil91

It’s only Tuesday and already so much has happened.

Yesterday I began my Arabic course which will last through till January. It’s an introductory course and I am so excited to be a student again. I feel like I’m a lot more mature as a student because going to classes, doing homework no longer create this impending sense of “I need to get this amazing grade otherwise I’m just not going to make it.” I felt like this when I started my International Relations semester when I was in DC. I had also just graduated from UNC so I knew I could more than “make it.” It’s nicer to be in that stage of student-ship.

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The letter Meem

On Sunday I finally left the comfy warmth of my piso, after days of feeling under the weather thanks to the drastic change of weather, to brave the nearby mountain Pico Sacro. It’s beautiful. I didn’t really hike all the way up, even though I probably could have especially with all this walking around Santiago (which is basically a mountain). It was an impromptu offer by some of my fellow auxiliaries and I’m glad I took them up on it. We drove up most of the way and once we got to the base of the peak, we walked up pathways till we reached the peak. We took photos because you get some of the most breathtaking views of greenery in Galicia as well as of Santiago. Once we spent our time exploring, we drove back down and stopped by a cafe to try the specialty cheesecake of the area: Tarta de Lesteda. It is delicious. The crust isn’t made of graham crackers and I’m not sure what they use, but it was delicious and indulgent. The cake was very light and fluffy compared to the standard NY Cheesecake and was topped with a light layer of, what I think is, strawberry jam. Before we left we got a whole cake to share as we watched some Doctor Who. Yes, I have found my people.

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And today. Today started off pretty well. I was extremely productive and submitted all my required documents to finalize the last of the administrative processes so that I can get paid when November rolls around. The classes went really well and I had a lot of great participation from the students. Also there were some delicious grapes in the teacher’s lounge and of course the big thing: the weather is perfect. It’s reminiscent of a North Carolina Fall day with just enough sunlight to give you that nice warm feeling on your back. I also got to color and do art- which has definitely inspired me to get back to art while I’m in Spain.

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Kandinsky’s Painting, Concentric Circles

So as you may know, I’m trying out lots of new recipes and they’re inspired from my need for comfort food. It’s the comfort food series that I hope to have lots of variations of so no matter where I travel, with a few staple ingredients I can overcome the slightest feeling of homesickness and also share with others. Comfort is always nice to share. After spending about an hour on Pinterest narrowing down some choices for menu ideas, I finalized a grocery list and got super excited to go shopping because it would end this amazing day on a perfect note. So I walk to the grocery store near the school and start stockpiling my little trolley basket with cauliflower and eggplant and broth and cheese and other yummy things. I’m so prepared because I brought my grocery bag and I was checking stuff off my list and even though it would have been a long haul, I would get to the kitchen and start experimenting. Once I get to the counter, however, I realize I may not have my wallet because I switched purses before I left the piso. So in an instant, after quickly apologizing to the cashier that I don’t have my wallet, I hurried back home, hungry and disappointed in myself. I’m glad I had to walk back because I got to calm down and not take what just happened too seriously. It’s something I’ve been working on for a couple of years now- not taking everything seriously/personally. I got home, made lunch and now I’m writing. Writing helps me process.

One of the first rules of traveling (and life?) is that you can’t expect everything to go according to plan. It’s so nice to have plans though. Without all my precious previous planning I wouldn’t have been able to seamlessly go through the administrative processes here. I relied on other peoples’ wisdom and experience but I still left room so I could be prepared for the unanticipated. It’s such an important skill to practice in any field because it teaches you resilience even before you have to really experience it. So when you do have a larger than life setback, you can hold onto your surroundings and remind yourself that this too shall pass. Despite knowing this, and we probably all know this deep down, I still felt like I was completely unprepared and that it was unacceptable. In the big picture, this was a misstep that didn’t cost me a lot in the long run. It was a gentle reminder that some days are just going to be shy of what you need to get done, but it doesn’t mean that all is lost. It was a moment to first acknowledge, then accept and finally, to let go.

So, dear reader, if you had a day that just didn’t make it to its mark- either because you could have been more prepared but weren’t or because circumstances didn’t allow for it- think about the little things that did work out. For me it started with a spontaneous mountain hike, then my first Arabic class, then the beautiful weather today…you get the gist.

Let your missteps become your muse in forging the path ahead.

Happy Tuesday!

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