Adversity. The unknown. You know, that feeling you get every time Beck releases yet another “best of” compilation.
It can be frustrating. It can be terrifying. But when you’re studying abroad, it is inevitable.
For months, my parents had been planning on me returning for the holidays, spending my 22nd Christmas in a row with them. Flying to Portland, Ore. from Copenhagen, I was bent on spending Christmas Eve in a semi-conscious coma, sleeping off the jet lag resulting from a nine-hour time difference and more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of flying.
Instead, I spent my Christmas Eve at the Toronto-Pearson International Airport Holiday Inn.
I had a feeling, while watching the Swedish countryside go by on a 6 a.m. train from Växjö, that the heavy snowfall might cause some delays in Copenhagen, as it had in paralyzing pretty much the rest of Western Europe (a breakdown only equaled by a certain unpronounceable Icelandic volcano this past summer) . But, I clung to the hope that the Danes, like Swedes, were used to large amounts of frozen precipitation, and that everything would work out. Boy, was I wrong.
How I managed to keep my cool –after sitting on the tarmac for three hours – is beyond me, as was refraining from launching the airline representative into the stratosphere upon learning I would miss my connecting flight from Toronto. But at least some good came of the situation.
Not only was I given a free hotel room (which actually wasn’t too shabby as far as hotel rooms go, considering there was a sauna), but I received three free meals which – with no price limit – allowed me to splurge: I ate crab cakes for dinner, indulged in a smorgasbord for breakfast, and feasted on a roast turkey and brie baguette with green salad for lunch. Good thing there’s a black hole where my stomach should be.
Eventually, I did make it home in time for Christmas, but the lesson had been learned: adversity happens. Really, the whole episode was eerily symbolic of my entire first semester in Växjö.
Dealing with adversity is perhaps one of the most important things about studying abroad. Things are ever-changing, fluidic, and never, ever go exactly according to plan. You have to learn to deal with this, adapt, “go with the flow.”
There’s a reason studying abroad looks great on any resume: employers love to see it, as it shows you’ve dealt with, and overcome, more adverse situations than Derek Jeter has pitchers. In other words, you can adapt to almost anything.
Otherwise, I suggest buying a pet rock. Not a lot of adversity to deal with there.