Planning to Adapt

Adaptability has become the name of the game while studying abroad. Even with all the planning in the world, things are bound to go wrong, and you have to be willing to go with the flow of the situation. As someone who treats making an itinerary like a hobby, this has proven to be a challenge for me. A few weeks ago, I sat down to plan out the trips I was going to take for the following few weeks. I booked accommodations, trains, and loosely planned the things that I was going to do in each place. These are things that you can plan for. Some things you can’t plan for are trains being late, missing your train, accidentally getting on the wrong train, transportation strikes, opportunities to stay in a place longer than expected, last minute cancellations, etc. These are all normal travel interruptions that someone can expect, however when you’re on your own in a foreign country, these issues become much more difficult to navigate. I have learned that sometimes it’s better to not plan things so far in advance and instead leave room for flexibility on your travels because you never know where you might end up loving and want to stay longer.

Adaptability is a major skill for any job as well and goes hand in hand with problem solving skills. When something unexpected goes wrong at your job, you are expected to navigate the issue and find a solution even if it is different from the plan you had in mind. Life is always unexpected, and it is nearly impossible to plan everything perfectly. However, out of some mistakes and unexpected events come great stories and exciting opportunities that you would have never imagined.

Canal in Amsterdam

While it is important to be adaptable when plans change, you can’t forget the importance of planning and organizing. It is a useful skill to know how to plan with room for interruptions. I have learned the importance of planning transportation for example, to allow for some moments of panic when I get off a train at a station in a new country that I have never been to before to account for some extra time to make my next train (and check out any fun souvenirs at the station). I have also found it super helpful to research and pick a few activities/restaurants for each location and save them on a map beforehand. I like to keep my itineraries fairly open because you never know who you will meet or what things you will stumble upon when exploring a city for the first time, but I make sure that I have back up options just in case. 

Practicing adaptability while being in France has reminded me how important it is to relax and enjoy my time because it really does go by in the blink of an eye.