New Year’s Reflections

My apologies for the silence over the past ten days. The rush of relocating and moving (while attempting to soak up the opportunity to be a tourist in my new home) has not granted me too many opportunities to write meaningful, thoughtful blog posts, although those of you who follow my Twitter feed have been seeing what I have been up to. Photos of my exploits will come sooner or later (potentially in a future edition of this blog post).

Today marks Erev Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and this is the first time that I am spending it away from my family. The High Holidays are traditionally a time of reflection, and I have much to reflect on from the past year, to be sure, but especially from the past three months, since receiving my Berklee acceptance. In the days leading up to the big move across the Atlantic, my excitement for the fantastic opportunity that lies ahead of me was tempered by the stress of packing and the anxiety of facing the unknown. My life has changed quite rapidly, and if what the staff and faculty at Berklee have already told me holds true, then I can expect that trend to continue to the point where the person I become a year hence will be apparently unrecognizable from who I am now. While I hope that any changes that I experience are ultimately for the better, the notion of being unrecognizable compared to who I am today is difficult to swallow. Trying to put this in perspective, would the person I was a year ago recognize the person I am now? What about the person I was two years ago? Five years? Ten? I am perfectly expecting to undergo tremendous growth and development in the next year, but having it put to me in that way, such that my own identity is in question, is discomforting. So, today in particular, I find myself reflecting both on my past and on the journey yet to come. I have traversed great distances this past year, both emotionally and physically, but I realize that still have a long way to go.

Now boarding!

If you’re interested in more of a travelogue, my flights to Valencia, via Düsseldorf, were nice and boring, just the way I like them. Upon arriving in Valencia, I wasted no time connecting with my future schoolmates; as luck would have it, two of them just so happened to be returning to Valencia from a trip to Lisbon at the same time, and we arranged to meet in Baggage Claim. They accompanied me from the into the city as I made my way to my hotel — a restored (and modernized) former palatial estate in Ciutat Vella (the old city, in Valenciano), near Plaza de la Reina. My first meal in Spain, of course, was squid ink paella and a glass of sangria. If I’m planning to do the Spanish gastronomic tour, I wanted to get started right!

My first two days in Valencia, however, were marred with poor weather; I was told that the rain that the city was encountering was the first such weather in four months, and that they were experiencing a rare “cold drop.” Suffice it to say, after seeing the beautiful clear skies in all of the promotional materials, I was disappointed. Yet, I took it as two important life lessons: to get the inevitable disillusionment out of the way, and that it can’t be sunny all the time. All the same, you should have seen me grinning like a fool the moment I laid my eyes on the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, home to Berklee Valencia; even in the rain, she’s still beautiful.

First glimpse of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. I may even have done a happy dance.

A couple nights after my arrival in Spain, I dashed down to the Andalusian region to visit family (Swedish expats with their adopted Korean children). Nerja and Frigiliana, near Málaga, are beautiful towns. In addition to enjoying the beautiful views of the Mediterranean and the Costa del Sol (and less rainy weather) and catching up with my relatives, I met another lovely Swedish family who are themselves in the midst of a relocation to Spain. I look forward to paying another visit to Málaga.

View of the Mediterranean from my relative’s house in the hills between Frigiliana and Nerja.

Since arriving in Spain, I have enjoyed many evenings of good food, live music, great company, and (essential to any adventure) plentiful alcohol. As it turns out, certain elements of the Spanish lifestyle, namely the penchant for a late dinner (by North American standards) and enjoying oneself well into the wee hours, are not particularly conducive to getting over jet lag. Adjusting to the grad school schedule, necessitating early mornings, however, seems to be doing the trick. Reconciling those two schedules, however, will be my next challenge. As with everything, I’ll do my best.

The past few days have been filled with Berklee Valencia orientation activities, officially meeting my future schoolmates (aside from the unofficial gatherings in town that I had enjoyed over the past week). Valencia is a beautiful city, and the Palau is a breathtaking building. One of our first activities during orientation was touring the Palau facilities, which included visiting the three auditoriums, each one bigger than the last; the Sala Principal, the main stage of the Palau, is home to the largest orchestra pit in the world.

Our orientation sessions have been a mix of celebrating our acceptance to Berklee and confronting such sobering realities as homesickness and culture shock. While at times I still question whether my skills at my craft are adequate and whether I can hold my own alongside my fellow musicians and composers, it is incredibly reassuring to hear from my film scoring professors, however, that they have confidence in us — that we are in the class of Master’s students because we are already at the Master’s level. I know that my companions share my feelings, and I am again humbled to be a part of this cohort.

In the next few days, the fall orientation period will conclude and my career as a grad student will commence in earnest. I find it auspicious that Rosh Hashanah coincides with the start of this year of grad school, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year holds for me.

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