Traveling out and growing up

As I said in my last column, I am going to be honest. So, this week’s edition will be focusing on theft. Sounds exciting, right? Here is how the world works: people make mistakes, money gets taken, money gets lost, and money makes the world
go ’round.

A big part of studying abroad is traveling. Traveling anywhere and everywhere. A friend and I were booking a flight for Salzburg, Austria (the location for the filming of the true story The Sound of Music), and my booking wouldn’t go through. I was checking my mobile banking when I noticed irregular transactions. The next day and a half were filled with hours of phone calls and so on.

Luckily for me, I caught on quickly. I was able to get the money refunded, cancel my card, and still get my trip booked. I was lucky, but in the moment I felt anxious and nervous. I just wanted to crawl in bed and have someone else deal with it, but I couldn’t. It was all on me. So I did what I could. That’s something very important to note: act quickly. Make sure to check your online banking regularly, and contact who you can.

Studying abroad can be so extremely scary because you can feel so alone. I have met people here who would have no idea how to respond in this situation. For most of those 36 hours I felt like I was on my own, after my parents helped me out a bit. I received a message from my mom that was the most comforting thing I had heard since I got here. “Well, take a moment at a time. You’re not alone, even if there is a time difference and an ocean between us.”

Then I realized what was really being stolen. Get ready because this is about to get cheesy, but I was stealing appreciation from myself. I had to do what my mom said. Take a moment. Look around. And think “Holy crap. I’m in England”. Yes, the world is scary, and yes, I was making mistakes, but who doesn’t? The events of last week won’t happen to me again. I learned something that no guide book about traveling can teach me.

When you are getting ready to study abroad, realize that there is a very small chance that you won’t run into issues. Maybe a booking agency will book you for the wrong flight or four of the same exact flights. Maybe you will get appendicitis while in South America (this actually happened to my sister). Maybe you will get pick-pocketed. Who cares? Breathe, and figure it out. After it’s sorted out, you are going to realize that you were just a ‘total grown-up’. It might even freak you out a little bit.

Studying abroad is the actual first step into being a grown-up. It’s not leaving for college where you can travel three hours to ask your parents to help you out with something. Life is up to you. Your mistakes are your fault, but your successes are yours too — only yours. You don’t have to share that with anyone.
Best of luck Duhawks.

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