How to Deal When Everything Goes WRONG

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


October 8, 2015

It’s your 21st birthday. It’s also the day that you’re about to leave your family for a year to live and learn in Ireland. You’ve been preparing for weeks – okay, days, but the packing still took a while – and you do the routine: console your crying mother, noogie your little brother, hug your dad goodbye. And then it’s time – you’re going abroad!

Except…you don’t.

This is a true story. The day that I (and, as it turned out, three more of my Arcadia program members) was supposed to fly to Ireland, the plane didn’t work. We boarded the plane, but within 15 minutes, we received an announcement over the loudspeakers that the cabin door wouldn’t signal that it was closed shut. We sat in our seats for three hours, from 9 pm until midnight, before Aer Lingus let us off the plane, apologetically canceling the flight and ruffling a LOT of feathers.

I was one of the lucky ones – the airport was close to home, so I spent the night in my own bed. Others, however, weren’t as fortunate. Once we’d collected our baggage, they had to wait in line for hotel and taxi vouchers provided by Aer Lingus, stay overnight in a Boston hotel, and call the number we’d all been given at 8:30 am the next day to reschedule a flight.

When I woke up the next day and called the number, I didn’t get through to reschedule for about four hours. When I did, I was told to call a different booking company because I’d booked my flight online through a cheaper provider. That call took another hour. I remember looking at the clock in my kitchen, listening to on-hold music on speaker phone, pacing. Arcadia orientation was already well on its way in Dublin, and I was still in Massachusetts. Everyone was getting to know each other and I was in the U.S., alone.

Except…I wasn’t.

When things deteriorate to chaos, you have a couple of options: stress about it, or make sense of it. Travelling stories are always pocked with little misadventures, but those misadventures are what give the experiences a bit of color. And most of the time, help is always just around the corner.

In my case, help came in the form of my three other program members who turned out to be on the same flight. Having their support and listening to their own Aer Lingus experiences gave the situation a little bit of humor. Help also came in from the people I spoke with on the phone at the airline, as well as from Arcadia staff over in Dublin.

So I got a flight. I was the last person to find an available seat, but the point is that I did. Not only that, but I ran into one of my fellow stragglers at the Dublin airport and we got a taxi together. Some things fall apart so other things can come together. It’s just the nature of life, especially when you try your best (read: struggle) to keep a positive attitude.

In the stairwells at Trinity, a club put up posters that say, “Help will always be given at Trinity to those who ask for it” (any Harry Potter fans out there?). This is true for anyone, anywhere. Life, as we all know, is not perfect, but when you ask for help, you’re giving yourself more of a chance to succeed than if you don’t ask at all.

Plus, at the end of it all, at least you’ll have a funny story to bring back with you.