Lessons Learned in Chilly Berlin
Post by Jacqueline Fan, Class of 2015
I was studying abroad in Rotterdam, Netherlands for the fall 2013 semester. Rather than just staying in Netherlands, I travelled around Europe during weekends and between exams. As I am the person who would like to plan everything ahead, I always took charge of the trip planning and reservations. However, travel always gives you something unexpected, and the biggest takeaway I got from traveling abroad is to prepare ahead and have the courage to face the unexpected. Life does not follow a preferred path, but we should always have the willingness to accept the reality, calm down, and bring creative solutions.
It was in Berlin, around mid-winter; my friends and I finished our daytime adventure and went back to our hostel. One of the girls shouted out after she viewed the computer screen, “I forgot to book our last night stay in Berlin!” I was confused then extremely angry. I posted the details of the trip through a Facebook group, including the dates we were staying in Berlin; and all she needed to do was to make reservation online. She couldn’t even do such a simple thing right! What kind of people was I was traveling with?! I gave her an attitude by ignoring her existence for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was busy, trying to find out where we could stay the next night. The hostel we stayed for the past four nights was already fully booked. After twenty minutes research, we had to pack up again, walk in the cold for ten minutes, and reopen our luggage. After a tiring four days of taking photos for hours, I really didn’t want any other problems occurring during this trip; besides, it was totally avoidable if she had done her homework!
After another exhausting day, I was leaving the hostel unwillingly without realizing another drama was waiting in front of us. We set the destination in our cell phone before we left, and it turned out we had arrived at another hostel which had the same name. This meant another night adventure in the cold and mysterious Berlin. With resentment, the crew began wandering the Berlin block with an old map. Meanwhile, I was reflecting back all the unexpected and unhappy events that took place throughout this Germany trip, how disorganized this group was and how addicted they were to photographing. I concluded we were from different worlds and it was one of the worst decisions to travel with them. With this idea in my mind, I tried to ignore the conversations between the crew and said to myself, “let them handle this mess, I have already done my fair share.” Eventually, a “zombie” had arrived at the right place with the group, at around 11 pm.
When I finished unpacking, I talked with one of the group members who was considerably close to me and complained about the mistake made by the girl. I couldn’t remember the entire conversation, but what she said was, “if it is the case, just find a solution”. The sentence was like a wakeup call; I always thought planning ahead and doing things according to the perfect plan could avoid all mistakes. However, life does not work like that. If there is a mistake, the only option is to accept and deal with it.