This post is written by a member of the Debut Student Publisher Network. Read on for Zaki’s recount of the most memorable moment of his year abroad in Naples:
There was a month to go of my Erasmus year in Italy which, up to that point, had mostly been awesome. And then it happened.
Basically, I lost my keys and got locked out of my student flat at the worst possible time. All four of my flatmates were away for the weekend. My landlord didn’t have any other keys. What could I do?
Come to terms with what it would mean
I didn’t know how to deal with it. Angry with myself for losing the keys, I was also worried that without access to my laptop, I’d get behind with my studies.
Honestly, I didn’t know who to call. I didn’t want to bother Erasmus friends I’d made by asking if I could stay with them for a couple of nights. Gradually, I calmed down, and told myself these things happen, and that my luck would turn soon.
A little retail therapy
I bought myself some new clothes. Usually I’m pretty careful with money, and don’t spend much on my own clothing, but if there was ever an excuse to treat myself, this was it.
Those were the only clothes I ever bought in Naples, so given the circumstances, I don’t think it was panic buying. The T-shirts are now among my favourites.
I got to board a yacht by one of Europe’s most spectacular islands
Eventually, I sought the help of some kind family friends, and then my fortunes turned. They let me stay at theirs the first night and said that, as it happened, they were planning on going to the island of Procida the next day to spend time on their yacht (!), which they’d already mentioned I’d be welcome to join them on before.
By coincidence, Procida, near the better-known and less unspoiled island of Ischia, was where the nearest of my flatmates, lived – the others lived over 100 miles away by road. So it was the perfect excuse to go, and kill two birds with one stone. Procida was truly amazing! We swam in the sea, had a picnic and relaxed. Then I walked around the island, picked up the keys from my flatmate and headed back to the mainland.
Crisis? Yacht crisis?
I learned that responding well to difficulties is one of the key year abroad lessons
In a way, my experience is what the year abroad is all about: Turning threats into opportunities. Being locked out threatened to ruin some of my last days in Naples; in the end, it gave me the opportunity to visit somewhere I otherwise probably wouldn’t have.
It also taught me to be flexible. Ideally I’d have got ahead with exam revision that weekend and made the trip to the island after I’d finished my studies, but as it was, I had to do things the other way round, and work efficiently once I’d got home.
One of the worst experiences of my year abroad became one of the most memorable. Will I return to Procida? Will I board a yacht again? Probably not. Will I lose my keys again? Hopefully not, but I’d know how to deal with it if I did.