Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
There is, perhaps, no better place to see this adage in real life than during the course of international travel. In the age of Instagram and Facebook, it is easier than ever to catch a glimpse into our friends’ studies and travels abroad. In a short scroll of my Instagram today, I saw photos from Mexico, France, Canada, Great Britain, and (seemingly) everywhere in-between. It is a gift to be able to explore so many diverse places and landscapes along with those we know and love through the Internet and we are fortunate to have modern technology that connects us in this way.
Aye, but there’s the rub: travel is rarely as glamorous as it seems.
It’s not so glamorous when your bus is an hour late and your entire schedule must be adjusted.
It’s not so glamorous when you get lost in an unfamiliar city where you don’t speak the language.
It’s not so glamorous when you end up waiting on the side of the road for an hour because your driver hit his weekly operating limit.
And it’s certainly not so glamorous when your group is dehydrated, hungry, and (perhaps you might relate to this) a little bit cranky.
But I think these moments of frustration, confusion, and even fear can help us paint an even more vibrant picture of what travel – and study abroad by extension – truly is like. These experiences are not some idyllic break from reality, rather, they are reality. Reality in a new place with new people and new customs, to be sure, but reality nonetheless.
Just as things go differently than you expect in day to day life, so too do things go differently than you expect when you are traveling abroad.
The key is to remember that travel life is real life.
And as you encounter setbacks and shortcomings along your journey, know that there are a number of people and resources that can give you advice and help get you back on track. As we traveled this weekend and faced some of the challenges previously mentioned, I took great comfort in the friends with whom I was traveling. Our shared strengths helped us to find solutions in seemingly helpless situations. I also know that our tour director and study abroad professor were in our corner at every setback along the way.
So, when your study abroad isn’t as glamorous as your friends’ Instagram posts would have you believe it should be, take heart! Travel is messy and it isn’t always glamorous, but it is full of meaning and memories that will last a lifetime.