Life, especially life abroad, is an extremely fickle mistress. One minute it's all hugs, chocolate, and fuzzy feelings, and the next it's kicks to the face, colorful expletives, and intense feelings of anger and frustration. It is a struggle and an uphill battle a lot of the time.
This is not a bad thing.
If you, like me, grew up as a (relatively) well adjusted middle class kid, lived in a cookie cutter suburb, went to a decent school, and had good parents who cared - your life thus far probably has not taught you to deal with adversity. I used to be the type of person who cried over being late and had an honest to goodness anxiety attack when the plan went even slightly awry. With each passing year I have improved at controlling these tendencies, but I made more progress in the first four months of living in Korea than I did in four years of living at home.
Where there's a will there's a way...
But if you give up at the first sign of trouble, you will definitely never find it.
Having nothing - no phone, no internet, no friends, and no common language - forces you to be resilient, adaptive, and most importantly to slow your roll and just relax. When you're living abroad shit happens and you just have to deal. Got on the wrong bus? Ok. Get on the same bus going in the opposite direction and try again. Lost your I.D. before a big trip? Fine. Get down to the immigration office ASAP and get a temporary one. Miss an international flight and find yourself stranded in the Bangkok airport? Not ideal. But keep your cool, keep trying, and eventually (48+ hours later) you'll find your way home.
All of these things have happened to me or someone I know, and where the old me might have freaked out and hyperventilated/cried, the person am I now can handle herself. Things do not and will not go as planned. The emotional rollercoaster teaches you to do deal. More importantly, it teaches you to deal with grace, which was something I absolutely could not do before.
The two best pieces of advice I got before leaving were simple and to the point...
2. Get over it
You either get over anxiety and frustration, put your cool pants on, and handle the situation, or you end up lost in a foreign country, not going on that big trip you've been planning, or becoming a real life version 'The Terminal' at the Bangkok International Airport.
My point? Don't fear the rollercoaster, embrace it!
Hop on, hold tight, and try not to throw up on the person next to you... ;)
Enjoy the beautiful view!
Photo Credit: Rollercoaster