Study Abroad Fail 1/?

In preparing for my trip, I have been told time and time again that study abroad is about failing, about getting lost and finding the way back, about enjoying when things don’t go as planned. I figured these character-building failures would not begin until I was actually in-country, or at least the airport. As it turns out, I experienced my first #studyabroadfail while still at home in U.S.

The Plan: drive home from Kansas City to Illinois on Wednesday evening, spend time with my family, fly out on Friday afternoon

The Hitch: at 9:57 Thursday morning, I realized I had left my passport in my Kansas City apartment

I have always been a relentlessly organized, obsessively over-prepared person. I had packed my bags a week in advance, crossed everything off my to-do lists in my pristine bullet journal, and was excited to spend two days relaxing at home with my family before taking off. It took a full 30 seconds for me to accept that I had actually committed the monumental mistake of forgetting my most important travel document in a shoe box 287 miles away.

My mother and I promptly abandoned our plans for the day in favor of a 9-hour round-trip drive to Kansas City. She was remarkably unflustered about it, reminding me in her typical motherly fashion that “at least we remembered today instead of tomorrow, two hours before your flight.” This reminder helped to decrease the frequency of my self-deprecating exclamations that inevitably punctuated our drive. (She did, however, immediately regret her comment during breakfast about hoping to go on a road trip soon.)

Our impromptu road trip actually provided an excellent opportunity for us to spend time together before my departure. The long, tedious, uneventful drive across the entire state of Missouri gave us plenty of time to catch up, argue about politics, and jam out to the Hamilton soundtrack. Though I think we both would have preferred hanging around the house in our pajamas and grabbing lunch and coffee at my favorite hometown spots, the drive was comfortingly reminiscent of the hours we used to spend in our beloved Mighty Prius when she drove me to lessons, rehearsals, and summer camps while I snoozed or did homework in the passenger seat.

In the end, this seemingly huge mistake actually worked out okay; I retrieved my passport with plenty of time to spare and got to spend some quality time with my mom. This pre-departure mistake showed me that it is okay to fail, that mistakes can be fixed, and that it is possible to enjoy the journey that these failures bring. I’m definitely ready to relish in all the mistakes and failures that my time abroad will inevitably include.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.