When All Your Preparation Abroad Goes Wrong
Three years ago, I set my mind on a goal; a goal to experience a semester abroad. For a year, I planned and planned and then planned some more. I strongly remember the concept of ‘Murphy’s Law‘ replaying in my head (it most likely had something to do with a movie I had seen at the time). For those of you who are unsure of what Murphy’s Law is, it is simply defined as, “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
I know, very scary stuff. I’m telling you this because, that’s exactly what happened to me the first few days I landed in my exchange destination, Singapore.
Nothing seemed to be going right.
I tried to change my flight coming home and ended up playing telephone-tag with the airline employees. Being told to call one airline, then the other, back and forth, back and forth. Just to be told that no one would be able to help me and when asked what I need to do, the response was simply, “I don’t know.” Cool. Anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
Later that day, I decided I need to withdraw some cash because I was running out. The bank account I specifically opened for this crazy adventure would be available to me on the campus. So, I googled the various locations and took a stroll.
Needless to say, I couldn’t find any of these so-called ‘various locations’. This normally wouldn’t be an issue if I could withdraw from other ATMs (for a fee of course), but that was not available with this bank since it appeared to be stuck in the 18th century.
I asked around, and was told the nearest location was at a mall located 30-minutes away. Perfect, I thought, as I needed to grab some household items anyway.
Thirty minutes later, I was told that bank branch did not exist at this location and that it was at another mall just 10-minutes from this one BUT, was already closed for the day. Perfect. Anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
As the long day winded down, my friend and I had taken the bus back to our campus. She got off outside her residence and I had believed the bus would stop outside mine as well. About seven minutes later, I noticed the bus had left campus and was proceeding to get back onto the main roads back into the city. Of course. I jumped off, and trekked back to my residence. Anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
The next day I finally made it to the bank at the other mall and spent two hours trying to withdraw money. WHY? Because anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
I think you get the point. The entire time this was happening all I could process was the insane concept that no matter what, whatever can go bad, will.
I tell you this because if it hasn’t already happened to you while travelling, well, just give it some time. It is almost impossible to plan for everything when going into a completely new environment.
Okay, so then how do you survive all these curves and fastballs? You simply adapt and problem solve.
Put that on your resume! Travel is about evolving; no one ever went on an adventure to stay in their comfort zone.
I can safely say, those few days forced me to be more independent and confident knowing I could overcome inconvenient obstacles. Oh, and as for Murphy’s Law… I don’t really believe it.
What I left out of my story, was all the good people I met that week, all the helpful individuals who crossed my path, and all the wonderful things I got to see. When all your planning goes out the window, remember it’s a blimp in your big, exciting story.