Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for. (Merriam-Webster).
It’s one of my favorite words–and one of my favorite things. It’s just such an amazing thing when the planets unexpectedly align in your favor and the universe hands you a surprise gift.
Perhaps my best serendipitous event happened when my dean sent me an email with this subject line: Do you have a valid passport? As someone who adores travel, that certainly got my attention! It turns out that she had some funds that had to be spent on something international-related by the end of the semester–which was in three weeks (they’d been earmarked for something else that was cancelled). She’d done a Fulbright in Zagreb not too long before, during which she’d met a criminologist at the university. She thought maybe my department and the Croatian professor’s might be able to work out some research partnerships.
So, a couple weeks later, I was on a plane to Zagreb! I’d never really given Croatia much thought, although my grandfather was born about 200 km from Zagreb, in Trieste. Well, I landed, and within a day I was thinking, I could live here. I don’t know why, but Zagreb just fit me.
I spent a week there during that visit. Not long after returning home, I applied for a Fulbright myself–and got it. I lived there for a semester, and it was amazing. Later I did another, shorter Fulbright. I’ve visited several other times as well. I have done research with Croatian colleagues and made friends there. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.
All because my dean had to spend money fast.