For as long as I can remember, I have always fulfilled the oldest child, type-A personality stereotype. There’s footage of me at two-and-a-half profusely cleaning off my cousin’s high-chair counter after she dumped her spaghetti sauce all over it. I love planning out my schedule and time. I look forward to color-coding my agenda for the semester and feeling prepared. I have just never been a “go with the flow” type of person.
My love for organization and plans has helped me many times throughout my life. However, I have begun to realize my on-going relationship with having everything go as planned is something I need to part with a bit while studying abroad. And no, I’m not going to completely give up on planning out my schedule because there’s still classes and trips to keep in mind. I just need to work on becoming more flexible if I want to thoroughly enjoy my experience abroad.
For example, this past Sunday, my friends and I decided to hop on the metro and then take the train to a nearby beach. The tickets were inexpensive and the train ride was only supposed to take an hour — who wouldn’t want to spend a day along the Mediterranean sea in Italy? With that mindset and very little planning beforehand, we rushed out the door to grab the metro to the train station.
Of course, we underestimated the time it took to get to the train station and we ended up missing our original train. We jumped on the next available one, only to end up in the only train car with no air conditioning. Sitting on the train, sweating and a little frazzled, I certainly felt a little annoyed and unsure of my decision to make the day-trip to the beach.
We pushed on, missed the stop for the beach we originally planned on going to and ended up at Santa Marinella. Arriving almost two hours later than planned, at a different beach than planned with no beach towel or food, I felt overwhelmed. But once I walked onto the beach and saw the blue water and felt the sea breeze, I didn’t think twice about the messy trip it took to get us there.
Within the first couple of weeks here, I have experienced many moments like this and I know it will only continue on. However, it’s the moments filled with chaos and abrupt change that lead to the best results. I keep reminding my type-A self that the chance to study abroad and explore new sights and sounds every day is worth those moments of unpredictability. And even if the unplanned moments make me feel uncomfortable, I know I am just learning a new life-skill of how to be a little more flexible.