Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Sh*t Happens

For example, you might end up at the airport in Milan right on time. But at the wrong airport.

Or perhaps you lose a bracelet you love dearly that was given to you by your grandmother, and you don’t notice until you get home at almost midnight. In Krakow.

Or you leave your keys at the restaurant. One of them, because you went to six that day.

But usually it isn’t as bad as it seems.

Because as much as it sucks to pay €160 for a taxi ride through the pouring rain at frightening speeds, you can, in fact, end up at the other – correct! – airport with plenty of time to get through security and onto your flight. Plus, you get an amazing story out of it. I mean, how many people have not one, but two (2!) insane taxi stories to tell?

And your friends are around and convince you to go back out, visit the cafe, the restaurant, and the bar you visited over the course of the evening to ask if anyone found and turned in a gold bracelet. And when that search comes up empty and you’re dejected and you don’t know what to do, they just might convince you to ask at the restaurant that you had lunch at too. And they, even though the staff is in the midst of cleaning up and stacking tables, will still stop and ask the servers from earlier in the day before they check in the magic drawer filled with lost items, and pull out your bracelet.

And your host mom doesn’t actually hate you when you call her at 10pm asking her to throw a set of keys out the window to you. The next morning, when you call first your school, then the other program where you have classes, they happily look around and sadly inform you they haven’t seen them, but that they’ll keep an eye out. The cafes you call are similarly helpful, and when you call the restaurant you had lunch at, the owner has them and will even be by in just a couple minutes, so if you wait he’d be happy to get them for you right away.  And all of this, of course, is happening in Czech, just as a testament to how much you’ve learned.

The reality is that the world is full of all sorts of sh*t, and you just have to deal with it. Sometimes (like all of these examples…) it is self-imposed. Sometimes life just hands you a bad deck of cards. But, as they say, lemons lemonade.

I think it is safe to say that when you travel, you expose yourself to a lot more potential problems. At home, we worry about being on time to meetings or classes, but showing up late can usually be explained with a sheepish smile and an apology. Planes, trains, and busses don’t wait for you to show up with your smile. When you’re abroad, every interaction is fraught with the extra confusions of second languages and different cultural expectations. When you’re traveling, you’re more likely to be moving around; I, at least, am way more likely to loose something if it is in transport.

I know a lot of people who try to plan EVERYTHING when they go traveling. they want to know exactly where they’ll be at every moment. They want to have their schedules written down minute-by-minute before they even pack a bag. They want no surprises, which seems to me to be the same as wanting no real experiences. I leave for a destination with a loooong list of things I’d love to do, but no plan to fit them all in. I usually pack the night before I leave, and I hit whichever destination is appealing at the time.

There are a billion different ways to travel, and I’m not saying mine is right or that ^ is wrong. But I leave myself open to disaster. Because the disasters – which undoubtedly suck at the moment – make the best stories. And the best way to learn, the best way to grow, is to make mistakes and figure out how to worm your way out of them.

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