By: Brian Lau, Simon Fraser University, winner of the fall 2019 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Singapore
I always thought that a detailed itinerary is the way to travel. I will know exactly what I am doing and have an expectation of what I will see. I want to control and the knowledge of what I will be doing before I do it. But recently, I caught myself losing control over what I want to do, rather I felt that the itinerary was in control. This made the places I visit of low value and insignificant. After some reflection, I concluded that I focus on the future more than I live in the present. I can’t dedicate my intentions to the moment because I was too worried about the next item on the list.
I learned two things about myself. First, uncertainty is acceptable and second, learn to appreciate the moment. When I let healthy uncertainty lead the way, spontaneous events occur and those turn into some of my most memorable and appreciative moments. The preparation is to assist with adapting to the situation and how I can formulate a better outcome. It is not to have my future itinerary item consume my trip such that it takes time away for me to capture what is in front of me.
For me to deviate from a rigid schedule, I seek discomfort and say yes to instant findings. Instead of turning down ideas that are unknown to me, I try to become more open. I think I become afraid of not knowing what to do, and that freaks me out, but throughout the travels, I gained the greatest lessons through uncertainty with my adaptive abilities. By learning along the way, my improvisation can take full flight, and with the assistance of my prior experience, together it can help me create a unique and surreal experience.
Exchange is a great opportunity to put myself in an environment where I can try new things that are not within my comfort zone. However, I shouldn’t limit my learning or opportunities because I am on exchange, so moving forward I want to make a conscious effort to put a little more faith in myself. Trust that with the preparation I had done, it will guide me to where I am looking for even though I may not know what I am looking for. Because knowing where I am headed is not nearly as much fun as where I could discover myself.