Wendy’s World: The Importance of Flexibility

Many organizations and articles state the importance of being flexible for professional progression, but during my study abroad experience in Jordan, I have realized the importance of being flexible for your own happiness as well.  The expectations that you set for yourself and how you handle and react to certain situations truly have an impact on your experiences.

Jordanian and American culture are very different in that Jordanians do not always understand the concept of having alone time.  It is a communal society where people are normally with their friends or family and are very rarely alone.  Furthermore, it is a more conservative society, especially for girls.  I and most of the other female students in my program have a curfew somewhere between 10-11pm.  Adding in the fact that you are living in a large city without full familiarity of your surroundings or all of your typical conveniences such as a car or reliable internet makes daily living a bit trickier.  On top of the culture, I am also on a program where we have a language pledge.  In other words, outside of speaking with friends and family from back home, I can only speak and listen to Arabic.

I admit that there are times when I am thriving in this environment and other times when I am having a hard time, but I know that my level of patience and flexibility has a significant impact on my experiences.  Arabic is very difficult for me, and there are plenty of times when not being able to understand everything is tiring and frustrating.  However, I know that at the end of this experience, my Arabic will be much stronger, even if it feels like I am not making any progress.  I could also complain about the unreliable transportation, the curfew, or the difficulties that come with living in someone else’s home, but by being flexible, open-minded, and respectful, finding a balance and a way to be happy in this environment will be easier.  In fact, rather than being resistant, trying to follow a different way of living can also provide me with other learning experiences.

Although this post is primarily about being flexible in the context of living in a new culture and country, I believe it can be applied to your daily life as well.  As a student, I know that there are times where I stay up way too late doing homework and get caught up on the little details of work and life.  Taking everything in stride is important.  Getting a B on a test or in a class is just a very small part of your educational career and your life.  Furthermore, there may be situations where the professor is disorganized or you do not agree with how your boss runs the department or organization.  Rather than letting it bother you, try to take it in stride, be proactive and view it as a learning experience.

At the end of the day, life is short.  Do not let external factors command your life but instead, take control of how these factors affect you and learn to dictate your own experience.

–Wendy Tran

Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®

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