Adding a Little Spice

Studying abroad has already presented me with so many obstacles. Obstacles that I’ve gladly approached and usually overcome with success. But there seems to be a theme with the obstacles. While obviously there are distinct obstacles that come with studying abroad in a country that speaks another language, this theme could be found in any study abroad experience whether you’re studying in London or in Thailand. I’ve noticed this lesson coming back again and again but this weekend I noticed it the most. The lesson: be flexible. Go with the flow.
This week, on a Tuesday afternoon, me and some friends decided that we wanted to go to Mendoza that weekend. We bought our bus tickets and booked the hostel within 24 hours and were pumped to enjoy a weekend in Argentina, tasting the many wine flavors and exploring a new city. When entering Argentina as an American, you have to pay a fee of $160, pretty pricey for just a weekend away from home. We all looked at our budgets and decided to make paying this fee worth it we would fly to Buenos Aires later in the semester.
Thursday arrived. My class, called Observación Clínica, which is usually in the morning got moved to the afternoon that day and we had no idea how long it would last. We assumed it would be a four-hour class like normal. When we got there, we quickly realized that we were going to take a tour of the hospitals we would be working at in the upcoming weeks. These hospitals were about an hour away from each other on public transportation. After a two-hour lecture, we finally left for the tours. At this point we were all very nervous that we wouldn’t be done in time in order to return home, pack, and catch the bus. The class finally finished and we all rushed home to get our things organized.
After I had packed my bag and was about to sit down to a quick dinner before leaving for the bus, one of the girls who was going on the trip with me, Nadeen, called me and said that the bus was cancelled. How could this be? I ended up having my host mom call the company to confirm that this was true and that there was no way that we could go with another company that night. After getting off the phone, my mom confirmed that the bus was indeed cancelled due to rain and snow in the mountains that had closed the pass. In order to get to Mendoza you have to go through the Andes Mountains and cross a pass. It can get pretty dangerous when there is even a slight change in the weather because the highway that runs through the mountains is not very safe and the rain and snow can push sediment onto the road making it impossible to pass. My host mom gave me a big hug and said she was so sorry that I wouldn’t be able to make my trip this weekend.
I was a little upset but quite honestly I laughed immediately after it happened. It didn’t seem like such a big deal. When in a foreign country, there is always something to do and I was confident that me and my friends would find something to do in the place of going to Mendoza. My mom was amazed at my resiliency, even saying she was surprised I hadn’t cried about it. I came to realize that I had grown so much since the beginning of this trip. When my flight out of the States was cancelled and I had to leave for Santiago the next day, I was distraught and overall so upset about the whole situation. But now my entire weekend’s plans had been thrown away and I was laughing. I found it comical and honestly a great opportunity to explore the city. What a different mindset than two months ago.
The next night, since we were in town, me and a friend decided to start planning our trip to Buenos Aires with the full intention of buying tickets that night. After searching on every site possible, we thought we had found the best deal for the times we were going. I booked the ticket and my friend Courtney said she would book it the next morning. The next morning, Courtney emailed me to confirm the flight, but when she was in the process of booking it, she saw that the price had jumped up by $100. Wow! I looked at my ticket to make sure that I had paid the price that the site had advertised. I found that the actual price of the ticket, after fees, was what Courtney had said, $100 more than it had been advertised for. We had definitely found better deals than this and I was fairly upset that we hadn’t noticed this rise in price.
I ended up calling the airline and seeing if there was any way I could get my money back, saying they had some false advertising on their website. There were not very keen to listen to my story. Again, I was running into a series of unexpected events where I needed to learn how to be flexible. After the whole situation I was quite honestly still a little upset, but not as much as I usually am about these kinds of things. I thought, you know its only $100 and in the scheme of things, this is not the end of the world.
In the end I felt proud of myself because I had dealt with an adverse situation with grace and I had also had to deal with an uncomfortable situation over the phone in Spanish—a sure sign that my Spanish was improving.
While this weekend definitely presented a few more obstacles than normal, I realized I’m learning how to be more flexible and go with the flow. Challenges like this don’t rattle me anymore and I’ve come to realize that everything works out for the best. Even though this story doesn’t seem to have a cheery end, I learned a lot about myself this weekend and how much I’ve grown while I’ve been down here. I still had an awesome weekend, filled with exploring the city and hanging out with friends, and a few lessons learned on the side. I’ve faced a lot of challenges while I’ve been down here and I’m starting to see that I can deal with adverse situations much better now. When I come home, the things I used to constitute as “problems” or “challenges” will no longer seem like anything at all. The challenges I face down here seem to put everything in perspective. When living in a foreign country everything is a new experience and adversity only adds a little spice to the whole journey.

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