“When Things Don’t Go As Planned”
In a couple days time it will have been 6 months that I have lived abroad. Crazy how time flies! During these months I have made it a point to travel to the places my heart has most desired to see. Beginning my move to Europe was the first time traveling abroad by myself. For whatever reason, I wasn’t concerned or worried. I knew I would love it and thrive in the independence and find a way in or out of any situation that would arise. Getting here and around Europe has been by my planning, efforts, and research, however I started this adventure with no experience and was a complete newbie (beginner) to this whole travelling the world solo thing. So this meant I will be hitting a few bumps in the road…and oh let me tell you, I have hit some BIG ones.
It’s so amusing to me that we can all think we know ourselves so well but new situations call for new characteristics! To give an absurd example, no one really knows what their reaction will be if you and a friend were to be attacked suddenly. We would all like to say we would fight back and go into protective mode BUT what if we don’t? What if we are so afraid we choose to run away, hide, pee our pants in fear, or cry like a baby? Maybe we don’t always rise up to the occasion and become that hero we dream we are. This is a metaphor everyone…I didn’t flee the scene of an attack and leave a friend behind. Calm down mom. Besides, I know I would have fought back and been the hero anyways! 😉 The point is that self realizations happen in new circumstances and you never really know what’s coming. I find it thrilling! The unpredictability of our reactions and who we are really showing up when the time calls. It’s eye opening, that’s for sure!
Many things have “gone wrong” so to speak, and NOT as planned. I’ve learned to stay calm and just deal with the problem and find a solution. Because there typically is one if we can stop long enough to think and find it. In my experience, It’s hardly ever simple or easy…and can be extremely difficult to handle.
Crazy story time!!!
My first week abroad I stayed in Rome. I didn’t research beforehand when the metro line or bus systems shut down for the night (oh ignorant me). During the first ride I somehow realized that the metro was going to stop running. I began racking my brain for alternative ways back. I stopped a couple and asked in terrible Italian where I could catch a bus. They tried desperately to help me but recommended I do not take a bus this late at night because it isn’t safe. I resorted to flagging down a taxi instead. I managed to flag down 3. The first two turned me down because “home” was too far away and not worth the money. Finally, I convinced number 3 through bribery (with money of course!) and begging to give me a lift. Even he knew it was too far and inconvenient but he kindly accepted and gave me an Italian lesson and told me all about his children (all the while I am holding my pepper spray very tightly…you never know). The story ends with me getting home at 2am after having wandered a new city for 2 hours at night. Needless to say, it was just a tad stressful. But solvable…whew…
Just last weekend in Venice during Carnival (amazing!), for the first time in the 6 months I have been abroad, my money was stolen from me (NOT amazing). I was so disappointed and thought of all the ways I should have been more careful and how to avoid this from ever happening again. The worst part of losing that money was that I had to travel to Verona with 6 euro to my name and a bank card from the U.S. that might or might not work (which it didn’t). I was beginning to accept that I might need to default to begging that day (which I totally would have if needed). The solution to this particular problem is a long and drawn out story full of literally everything going wrong from locked cards, money in wrong accounts, banks turning me down, my phone having no international calling and WIFI networks not being safe enough to log onto my accounts in the first place. Normally I can resolve everything somehow on my own, but in this particular situation I needed help from someone in the U.S. who could call and sort it all out. I needed my Mama. She lovingly made calls and found solutions at 3am with my brother until I had money in my hands to feed my poor starving self. My family is the best! I have been in many terribly stressful situations but this one makes the books. I kept my cool until hour 3 hit and the 5th bank turned me away but then I admit it…I needed a good cry. Especially when the ATM finally dispensed cash. Most amazing moment of my life!
It has been mostly cloud nines and visions of painted rainbows but also a lot of stressful situations. Ones that makes me stop and think, “Wait a minute, did I know I had that problem?” Situations that bring out new sides of myself both good and bad and really show ME who I am. I have been pleasantly surprised by many of my reactions and I’m so glad for that because I am equally seeing parts of myself that I’d rather just forget exist and put on the back burner (never a good idea).
One major positive in travelling alone, is how much you learn about yourself. Especially in situations that have gone terribly wrong. Though I don’t always react how I wish I would have or I can surprise myself by my sudden resourcefulness, I’ve learned that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! A phrase that means to stay positive even when life gets tough and you are facing hardships.
I hope you enjoyed my getting a little more real and personal with you and these ridiculous stories and videos!
Con Tanto Bene,