So how do you get yourself into a sticky situation thats not really sticky? Sounds counter-intuitive yeah? Let me explain with the beginning of my Barcelona/Lisbon trip as an example, using mini-lessons as the building blocks.
Lesson 1: Research your options. Cheaper options are not always better options
Money is a vital medium to survive, thrive in life but when our focus becomes solely on reducing costs, it clouds the rationality of our minds which causes us to make an uninformed decision. As a college student, I’m always looking for the cheapest,easiest option available when making purchases. If a dozen, organic eggs cost $5 and a dozen, regular eggs cost $3, there’s no question that I’m buying the regular eggs. If I’m hungry and need to decide between a $20 steak dinner or a $5 Mcdonalds dinner, you’ll see me munching on a 10 piece McNugget meal with a medium fries. So if flying to Barcelona costs 27 euros from Maastricht versus 110 euros from Amsterdam, I’m leaving from Maastrich regardless of time. There’s no question about it! However, this line of thinking had really put me into an “unfortunate” situation.
As it turns out, there often a hidden price-tag attached to anything that seems surface-level cheap. On May 26th, the day before I was supposed to fly out, I decide to take a look at where this ” Maastricht” airport was located so I could set a time to wake up for the next day. If you read my previous blog post, I enjoy traveling alone so I booked my flight two days in advance of everyone else so I could explore the city solo. A couple exchange friends were leaving for good while I was away so I had planned to spend some valuable time with them that night. My flight left at 850 am the next day so I felt like I had whole night available for me. At around 2pm(1400) that day, I wanted to figure out all the logistics and items I needed for my trip. A couple friends had planned to go to the student bar at 6 pm and I wanted to get all my clothes and accessories packed before going to the student bar since I’d rather not have to do it after having a couple beers. I naively thought I would easily take the train to the airport and hop right onto my flight. I thought to myself :
“Holland’s a small country so it’ll probably take me one, two hours maximum to get to the airport. “
* Looks up google maps from Rotterdam to Maastricht: 3 hours 10 minutes*
” Oh great, I guess I’ll have to leave here at 4 am then. I’ve done stuff like this before, it shouldn’t be too bad. I’ve had shittier situations.”
* Looks up train schedule: First train to leave from Rotterdam is 5:48am*
” Wait that’s not going to work. I’m not going to make my flight then. There’s got to be a faster way!”
*Spends 45 minutes furiously searching google for trains, buses, shuttles: Nothing found.”
“Well damnit! Maybe I can stay overnight in a hostel/hotel or something in Maastricht or nearby city.”
* Searches hostelworld and other hotel sites: ” No availability or 100 euros a night.”
” Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do then!!!!!? Be homeless for a night?????”
And that’s exactly what I had to do. And not only did I have to be homeless for a night, but I also had to say goodbye to a couple, awesome exchange friends earlier than expected and I had to pay an extra 30 euros to tram and take the train to Maastricht. The cheaper option may always seems like an easier option but in reality, its always better to research your options before making a hasty decision.
Lesson two: It’s only a shitty situation if YOU let it become a shitty situation
So around 8 pm the night on May 26th, I mentally prepared myself for a night of jacket-rolled pillows, dirt-stained concrete and generally a night of misery. As I sat on the train, my mind began creating all these fearful outcomes of sleeping on the streets: ” Somebody could steal my wallet while I’m sleeping!”; ” I’m definitely going to catch a cold sleeping out there”; ” The police are going to arrest me for loitering in public!”; ” It better not fucking rain tonight!”. However, I realized that these were completely irrational fears that had maybe a 5% chance of happening( except for the rain, that was like 50%). I thought: ” I can either let myself suffer or I can turn this situation into an opportunity.”
I arrived in Maastricht at around 11pm and had to kill about 7 hours since the Maastricht bus to the airport did not run till 630am. Maastricht isn’t a large city and the nightlife is completely non-existent. It’s not a city I ever planned to visit. The city literally had NOTHING going on so what would I do? I decided that I would document my experience on video. What would I videotape? I would walk around the city and record myself “shuffling” in random spots of the city. Lighting was bad in a few spots and everything was improvised but I think its pretty dope. If you have a few minutes, check out the video here:
( Song is called Cheating(Bootleg) by Robin Schulz)
None of my fears came true and I had an awesome time looking like one of those fools in those Apple commercials dancing in front of the few random dutch people that walked by. I actually met a friendly homeless man as well after I had made the video. He saw that I was sleeping with a jacket and actually offered to trade his sleeping bag for a couple euros. I rejected him as I only had a 50 euro bill on me( I’m generous but not THAT generous). He was friendly enough to continue talking to me and became fascinated about how I was from California and especially going to school in L.A. His favorite rap group was N.W.A and he absolutely loved Compton, CA. We actually spit a couple rap lines together which was awesome!
You see, even though I was stuck in an “unfortunate” situation I turned it into an opportunity to make valuable use of my time. I met an awesome homeless man and you guys wouldn’t be treated to my video 🙂 After spending about 2 hours making the video, I spent the next 3 hours uploading and editing the video. I killed most of my time making the video and was able to sleep safely for an hour and make it to the airport on time. I had a great trip in Barcelona with some awesome people 🙂 I shall share that story another day as this post will be way too long then. The big takeaway is that its all about the lens you view everything. You can either allow yourself to suffer or complain or you can see it as an opportunity or learning experience. Life’s too short to live with suffering so don’t let it! 🙂