There is something incredibly real and powerful about discomfort. People often say that the greatest opportunities in life only present themselves if you step outside of your comfort zone. After attending Texas Christian University for a semester and a half, I have learned firsthand that these words ring true in every aspect of life.
During the college application process my senior year of high school, I was truly terrified of what was to come. Uncertainty hung around my shoulders like an itchy blanket; I could not bring myself to relax and enjoy the process because I felt that college was an experience that was too frightening, too new for me to handle. Without my friends from my hometown and my family there to support me, how would I handle the challenges that I was certain would arise? I did not enjoy the process until I heard about TCU from my friend, Claire Carter, who suggested that I tour TCU. I am incredibly thankful that I heeded her advice; once I toured TCU, I was able to feel hopeful and excited about college for the first time. After applying, waiting, and praying, I eventually received life-changing news – TCU accepted my application. I was going to be a Horned Frog!
A very similar situation occurred that led me to discover Cultural Routes. I have always dreamed of studying abroad; the history, the culture, the experiences I heard about from those who had traveled drew me in. Much of my intrigue in Cultural Routes as an option for studying abroad also began with Claire; she traveled with CR after her freshman year and came back saying it was the most incredible experience she has ever had during her time with TCU. Seeing the pictures she took and hearing the stories she told convinced me that I should apply to Cultural Routes. Despite the fact that spending three and a half weeks in a foreign country with potentially nobody I knew made me nervous, I decided that it would be a learning opportunity and that I would go ahead and apply. Never did I once think I would actually be selected!
I received the acceptance email while I was at a dinner with my family and some family friends. Because their kids also are TCU students, I had to repress my excitement as best I could. I sneakily showed my parents the email once I could get them away from the rest of the group. We hugged and celebrated quietly and then slipped back into the conversation with everyone else like nothing happened. Once we got home, I spent some time in my room, reflecting about what this opportunity meant to me. Cultural Routes is the experience of a lifetime, and I thanked God for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone in such an exciting and unique way.
Although I was initially terrified of making the leap from high school to college, once I began my journey and embraced the discomfort of stepping out into the world on my own, I began to thrive in my new environment. This past semester and a half has been one of the most fulfilling time periods in my life. Sure, making new friends and tackling the challenge of college courses has been difficult, but I have grown emotionally and spiritually throughout the experience. I am positive the same will occur with Cultural Routes. Am I a little nervous to travel across Europe for the first time with this group of intelligent, passionate, awe-inspiring people that I have so much to learn from? Absolutely. Does that mean I am not looking forward to it? Absolutely not. In fact, I am more excited and thankful for this opportunity than I ever have been with any other experience in my life. I cannot wait to embrace this discomfort with open arms. I am prepared to learn and to grow with the rest of CR10 as a student, as a leader, and as a person, and I cannot wait to grow closer in friendship to the rest of the group!