Hitting my Stride

Meredith M. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy in Massachusetts.

My first step in Zaragoza, Spain, was really more of a shove. I was quickly rushed off of a bus, and into a sea of people and sounds I didn’t recognize. There was no time for thinking, not even time for doubt; instead, one by one, each student had to fully trust themselves as they walked into the unknown. As I have now been here for a month, I realize that this initial leap of faith was just the first of many times I will be forced to trust myself, and to openly embrace discomfort. In fact, almost every day, I am forced to put myself out there - to fully jump into a new, unknown situation, even if it scares me. I have already seen the amazing ways in which taking chances has paid off, and, after only a month, risk-taking has started to become second nature to me. 

Recently, I stepped out of my comfort zone by joining La Estrella, a local cross country team. On my first day of practice, however, things did not exactly go as planned. Being one of the only SYA students on the team, I had to navigate my way to practice on my own. Admittedly, I am not the best with directions, and after wandering around the city for forty-five minutes, I decided that I was officially lost. Feeling incredibly disappointed in myself, and also pretty embarrassed, I texted my coach and explained to her the reason I wasn’t going to be able to go to practice that day. Full of defeat, I was ready to give up and find the closest bus stop, so that I could take the twenty minute ride back to my house. However, my coach replied within seconds, explaining that she was going to come get me, and we would drive together to practice with some of the other girls on the team. Relief and gratitude overcame me as she arrived in her little white car with two other girls from the team. My first practice was one of my most vulnerable moments yet in Spain. In front of the entire team, I had to introduce myself in Spanish, and tell them about where I was from. I allowed myself to let my guard down, to embrace any mistakes in my Spanish, and to take a chance. 

That night, one of the girls on the team, Clara, offered to drive me home. On the car ride back, we put the windows down, and turned the music all the way up, blasting my new favorite Spanish song: Pepas by Farruko. Clara and her mom cracked jokes, and taught me Spanish slang words that I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom. I spoke the language without fear of judgment, without worrying about mistakes. My first day of cross country practice, although starting off uncomfortable and scary, ended up being one of the best nights I have had in Spain. 

My time in Zaragoza so far has certainly been crazy, and there have definitely been ups and downs. Not always do the moments of discomfort and risk-taking work out, and that is okay, too. But one of the most important things that I have already learned is that even when things do not go as planned, it is all a part of the experience. And, more often than not, you will find that when you commit to embracing discomfort, and taking that leap of faith, the result is more than worth it. 

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