fbpx Abroad in Baltimore #4 — PCA

Abroad in Baltimore #4


Long Days, Growing Pains

Now that we’ve mostly settled into academic daily life once more and the days are beginning to make us reach for our autumn jackets, it’s time for the annual tradition of digging our heels into this runaway train– I mean semester.

Three weeks into the semester and I’m happy to report that things have remained quite manageable academically speaking. No disasters, no tears (as of yet). While I remain cautiously optimistic, I will give myself credit for improving time management skills as I only stayed up past midnight on two occasions, once for homework and once for fun.

Plein air painting on Thursday morning brought me back to my flaneur roots, it’s a French word meaning “open air”. I was a few minutes late to the party as I had a meeting with my exchange coordinator right before. When I got to the park just a few minutes walk from MICA’s campus, most people had already situated themselves in the foliage. I, ever the contrarian, chose a riskier view of a rather interesting alley way just across the road.

After getting myself situated, I began to block in my shapes and colors while getting a few odd looks from some of the nearby apartment residents. I can’t decide if this would be more embarrassing in Paris, but suffice to say I was sufficiently embarrassed in Baltimore.

Painting outside comes with it’s own set of challenges, but after an hour or so I settled into a rhythm. Our lovely painting TA came over to check on me, and I had a nice respite chatting with her about the prospect of grad school (still not entirely convinced either way).

Before the end of class, our teacher walked over and sat with me while we looked at what I had so far. We chatted about the location I chose, which turned out to be in the middle of a filming location for the Netflix show, House of Cards (a very exciting revelation). He dispensed some wisdom, for which I was immensely grateful, and as class came to an end I found myself rather enjoying my experience with plein air painting. I’d love to try it out when I’m back in Paris!

As the day turns to night, my Anatomy class ensures any leftover creativity is properly wrung out with both hands. It’s an intense class, demanding your focus for the entire 6 hours. There’s something inherently relaxing about losing yourself in the practice. It’s the sort of growing pain that I love because you see the results in real time. Even by the end of that third class, I saw a visible difference in my lines, and was able to better translate what I saw onto the page, something I’ve struggled with for a while.

On the non-academic side, I’ve found that there are aspects of college in America that I simply am not used to. Having access to a car is a huge advantage, but every time I’m stuck in traffic on my way to campus I can’t help but yearn for the simple beauty of the Paris metro. The floor numbers also confuse me on a near weekly basis. In France the ground floor is 0 and the floor above it is the 1st, but in the US the ground floor is 1 and the floor above it is 2. Long story short, before I step onto the elevator I always have to double check that I’ve got the right floor.

With this week now coming to a close, I eagerly await the weekend for some much needed rest and relaxation. I hope you’re surviving the semester and making sure to make time for yourself between all the classes and craziness.

Wishing you well,

f t p