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July/August, 2018

You are the Architect of Your Own Experience


Lola’s Trip

Lola went on a university study trip to Spain with twenty other people, to learn more about the history of the country and visit its monuments.  She read all the required books before the trip, although she was annoyed about the time it took away from her usual reading of fiction.

Her flight from Canada was delayed, so she missed her connection in London, something Lola found very stressful.  When she arrived in Madrid, she was tired and anxious.  It took days for her to relax and begin to enjoy herself.

The organizers provided a hotel that did not include breakfast, and Lola was very upset that there was nowhere she could get a cup of coffee before 8:30 AM.  Also, many Spanish dishes included ham, which she does not eat, so she complained at every meal.

When they were moved into apartments, Lola did not know two of the other women with whom she shared.  For two weeks she argued with them about food budgets, schedules and who should clean up.  She was miserable.

At the end of the trip, Lola said she’d been making a list of all the problems she’d encountered and was going to send it to the organizers when she got home.  “It’s been a disaster!” she said.  “I knew it would be.”

Lola is not aware that, because of her expectations of disaster, they occurred.  And if she holds on to her current disappointments, she will engineer further disasters in the future.  She is unlikely to enjoy travel in years to come, if she travels at all.

Susan’s Trip

Susan took the same trip as Lola.  She also found the required reading challenging, but realized that it gave her new and valuable insights into Spanish history.

When Susan’s flight was delayed, she caught up with other trip participants in London and they had a celebratory dinner at the airport before flying on to Madrid.  Although they arrived at midnight, she managed to find the last bus to the city center and was relieved to have a clean bed waiting.  By the next morning, she was alert, energetic and excited about the coming weeks.

The schedules in Spain were based on late dining and late mornings, so she adjusted her own timetable.  She liked the Spanish food, and abandoned her usual diet to enjoy it.

Susan participated in all the seminars and tours.  Although she sometimes forgot dates and geographic details, her sense of Spain’s history emerged more and more clearly, and the learning process was fun.

She shared an apartment for two weeks with women she didn’t know.  There were challenges at times, but if she felt constricted she headed out on her own and cleared her head with a good walk.  When she returned to Canada, she was delighted with her overall experience and looked forward to more travel in the future.

Lola and Susan had the same experiences on their trip, but their responses were very different.  Lola was unable to adapt, and as a result found everything stressful.  Susan enjoyed the change from her normal routine and so benefited and enjoyed herself.  A good lesson for all of us, because life never gives us the same day twice.