I’ve recently been reminded that in life and also in travel, things don’t always go according to plan. This is a basic life rule, and I think probably my rule number one for travelling.
I moved to Budapest a few months ago, because of an offer that sounded initially too good to be true, and as it turns out, it was. I was looking to leave Istanbul and a Turkish friend was moving to Budapest and asked me to come live with her, help her with her English and in exchange for this very easy English teaching, I could live for free. Of course I also got a job here as a proper English teacher at a school, and I thought this would be the perfect chance to pay off some debts and see some more of Europe while I’m at it.
Of course, as luck would have it, my housemate has decided she doesn’t want to stay in Budapest, because she misses Istanbul, and instead of finishing out her contract, she’s heading back in less than a month. At first, I was furious; I moved here entirely because of this living arrangement, in order to pay some debts, and now I’m more in debt than I already was and barely breaking even. Now I find myself looking for a shared flat to move into, and a second job to be able to keep paying my bills. I was stressed and angry and incredibly disappointed at this turn of events on the night I found out, but I thought about what my Dad always used to say in situations like this; that everything always looks better in the morning. So after a full nights sleep, on a new day, I did indeed feel much better. In fact, every day since, I have felt more and more optomistic. I’ve been reflecting on this turn of events and come up with a new perspective that’s made me infinitely less upset.
Certainly, things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped they would; I’ll have to watch what I spend, and work a little harder, and instead of buying the wine on the top shelf I might have to switch to the one that comes in two litre plastic bottle. I find myself now going to see badly decorated rooms in shared student flats that are bearable enough to rent, and dreading the thought of packing up all my things all over again. However, despite all these setbacks, despite the fact that if it hadn’t been for her offer I’d likely be in Asia or the Middle East paying off my debt right now, I’m so happy I came. I’m happy she called and offered this living arrangement that clearly hasn’t worked out; because if it hadn’t been for that, regardless of the unfortunate financial position I find myself in, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t be living in Budapest, I wouldn’t have seen this beautiful city (or at least not the way I have), I wouldn’t have this job I love, or have met the people I have or have had such an incredible summer. We’ll see what the winter brings, and where I end up, but after thoughtful reflection and several glasses of wine, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m sure that I’ll land on my feet somehow. After all, I always have.
So here’s some advice, for anyone reading, as well as a reminder for myself. I’m a firm believer that if things don’t all work out in the end, it must not be the end. That might be a line from a song or a book or some Chinese proverb, but I’m sure it’s not wrong. I’ve been travelling around enough to know that things rarely work out the way you think they should. So make all the plans you like, and put as much thought and money into them as you want, but be prepared for the fact that it might not go the way that you want. However, even if it doesn’t look like it at the time, it’ll eventually all work out in the end. And more importantly, be grateful for the things you have, and appreciate the circumstances that brought them to you, no matter how frustrating or disappointing or difficult they have have been. I’ve planned for siteseeing weekends where the weather was awful, missed connecting flights, had things stolen, lost jobs, money and some of my favorite clothes. I’ve been ripped off, and missed buses and trains. There are countless times that I can look back on now that at the time seemed to be the ruin of a trip or a weekend, but in fact, are some of the things I remember the most. So my advice is to go ahead and plan and budget and schedule to your hearts content, and when it doesn’t work out, relax and move on.