“It’s true what they say, this city never sleeps.” The words of my Uber driver echoed through my ears as I gazed out the window at the New York City skyline. Being my first time in New York City, I was mesmerized by the bright lights, extensive NYPD, and the soft snow falling in the night. Just a few hours before, I was finishing the last final of my first semester. Now I was in the heart of the American dream; the place people come to full of hope, charisma, and desires for new beginnings. Though I wish I could say my motives were as meaningful as the millions who passed through Ellis Island before me, my biggest dreams consisted of nothing more than lots of trendy food and a few high-quality pics for the ‘gram.
As my mom continued to talk to the Uber driver about all things NYC, I felt a slight buzz on my wrist. I looked down at my Fitbit and noticed a text that simply said, “Check your email.” While this may seem elusive to some, I knew exactly what this meant: CR decisions had come out. How did you know you might ask? Well, there’s a of couple things. 1) I had heard that Dr. P was notorious for the way he releases CR acceptance letters. Being that it was December 15th and the expected release date was December 20th, this premature announcement seemed to be right up his alley. 2) It was 10:24 PM on the first day of Christmas break. Who gets a text from a friend at 10:24 PM telling them to check their email unless it’s something important? Immediately I began to see my heart rate climb from a steady 60 to a rapid 90. My hands were shaking as I opened the email from Dr. P.
To be honest, I thought there was no way I was going to be chosen for Cultural Routes. Though to the common eye Cultural Routes may seem like just a three-and-a-half-week trip to Europe, I knew it was something more. Even from my earliest moments on campus, I noticed how the past CR groups stood out from the rest of the people at TCU. They were a community in all sense of the word. They cared for each other, they loved each other, they pushed themselves and those around them to be the best that they could be and never settled for less than their full potential. Mediocrity was not in their vocabulary. During my first semester of college, I found myself struggling to find this community. When I came to TCU, the community I had worked hard to build was suddenly ripped away from me. I was given a blank slate; a chance to be the best version of myself with no presumptions, no expectations, and no strings attached. Yet, college consumed me. It was full speed 100 mph and every opportunity flew by me before I could even realize it was approaching. I began throwing myself into every opportunity available, longing to find my fit somewhere…anywhere… on campus. I was lonely, but never alone. When I heard about the Cultural Routes application, I was intrigued by the chance to study abroad, but even more, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. This was the chance to make something of myself, to find my community and my fit on campus. Though I doubted my qualifications, my involvement, and my merit, I gave everything I had to the application. Even if I wasn’t selected for the experience, I wanted to go out knowing that I had given it my all. After a week of constantly reading and re-reading my application, I finally hit submit. It was now all in the hands of Dr. P.
Over the next three weeks, Cultural Routes seldom left my mind. There were multiple times when I would be studying in the library (shoutout to club lib) and my mind would wander to CR where I would then proceed to open the CR9 blog and watch Riley Malloy’s video for the 20th+ time. I knew each of the songs, what clip they corresponded to, and what time they appeared in the 9-minute video. Sometimes I would begin planning my first blog post, only to quickly stop, hoping not to jinx myself. I would lay in bed at 3:00 AM, sleep deprived and running on the fumes of caffeine, consumed in thought about how great this experience would be if selected. Ultimately, I think it’s safe to say that I was certified obsessed with the idea of Cultural Routes. As the December 20th date approached, I was probably the only person on campus who was looking forward to finals, knowing that there was a chance I could catch a break from my continuing focus on CR. When I left for New York, I was hoping these thoughts would continue to be pushed out of my mind.
“Welcome to the Familia.” As I read these words I began fist pumping in the backseat of the Uber, eliciting an understandably confused face from my mom and an even weirder reaction from the unknowing New York City Uber driver. In the city of dreams, one of mine had come true. As I looked out over New York City from the Top of the Rock, I imagined myself at the top of the Swiss Alps overlooking the Swiss countryside. In that moment, I realized the gravity of this opportunity. I had overcome the first obstacle: getting accepted. Now it was my turn to make the most of what lies ahead and what is to come. Though trials are inevitable and we will falter along the way, I could not be more excited to experience CR10 alongside 15 of the most incredible freshmen TCU has to offer. We are familia and we are ready. It is OUR turn to seize the day.
With much anticipation,