“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
As I type this post, I am counting down the minutes until I leave home and travel to Europe for the first time. I am less than 48 hours from stepping on a plane that will take me across the Atlantic and to an entirely new continent. When I arrive, I will experience new cities, new languages, and new cultures that I have never been exposed to before. I cannot wait!
So many emotions are running through my mind as I pack my bags and attempt to mentally prepare for this experience. Although I am breathless with anticipation for this journey, I do have some concerns. What if I forget to pack something essential? What if I get lost? What if I don’t get as close with everyone as I desperately want to? What if I get stuck in my comfort zone and don’t push myself to grow? Most of these concerns are trivial (I most likely will forget to pack something and I most likely will get lost, but it will work out and I will be fine). However, because what I want most out of CR is to grow closer both with my fellow students and to learn more about myself, I need to prepare to invest my energy into getting to know the people around me, appreciating the places we visit, and learning about myself through the process.
Since the day I found out I was selected until now, I have learned so much more about what CR means and what it entails. When I first opened the email and discovered I had been selected, I thought I had been accepted to a summer trip. I was prepared to tour around Europe, write a few papers, and that would be it. Now I know, after Dr. Pitcock’s constant reminders, that Cultural Routes is so much more than a trip. It is an experience, painstakingly designed to change our perspective about European culture and history as well as our perspective about the world itself. From the beginning of our CR meetings until now, Dr. Pitcock has shown us the level of dedication, of attention to detail, of passion that he puts in to make this experience incredible. His commitment to making CR incredible foreshadows the commitment he expects of us to continue the tradition of excellence. Now I know that CR comes with many expectations that are put in place to help us grow as individuals. I am looking forward to beginning this experience with an open mind and seeing where CR takes me. I want to learn about culture and history, but I also want to be more aware of the world around me and incorporate that into my studies as a political science major. I cannot wait to expand my personal meaning of “global citizen” by having hands-on experiences with different parts of the world.
Cultural Routes is a familia, and I cannot wait to establish new friendships with everyone who is going on CR this summer. Meeting and talking with the previous CR students has taught me that CR is a community. CR students will do anything for each other and for the staff involved, and the staff will do anything for the students. Witnessing the former CR students reach out to us as one of their own and offering us advice is such a unique experience. I believe that the community CR builds will be one that will benefit all of us in our future years at TCU and beyond.
Dr. Pitcock keeps reminding us that we will get out of this experience as much as we put into it. As long as I put all of my effort into both the experience itself and into the people I will be traveling with, CR 10 will be the experience of a lifetime. See you soon, Berlin!