In preparation for this trip, we were advised to stay up all night on the CR tradition: the night train. I hate to disappoint, but we certainly did not do this. Although, we still have stories worth telling. As a preface, Europeans are not particularly fond of a group of sixteen, American college students, with the largest bags and loudest voices boarding their train. To begin the on-board adventures, I would like to thank Jacob James for his incredible ability to bring people together. He radiates energy and instantly set the tone for how enjoyable our night train experience was about to be. He started us off with immediately suggesting Hot Seat: a high-pressure game where your group has one minute to ask you any question they want; riveting I must say. From questions about how one eats their taco to horrendous, and I mean horrendous, first kiss stories, the night was nothing short of memorable. I am grateful for this new level of friendship reached and each and every one of these people continue to amaze me in their past, present, and plans for the future. It helped me realize how much more I have to learn about each individual and I am looking forward to continuing to do just that.
As sick as the fellowship (that was for Kyle Hepting) on the night train was, the morning did not greet us kindly. For starters, our conductor, who already did not like us, woke us up at 6am to give us “breakfast”. “Breakfast” consisted of two hard pieces of bread and either coffee or tea. After we nibbled, we started counting the stops and nodding off back to sleep. About thirty minutes later our conductor was standing at our door yelling at us in German. I am not sure if you have ever been yelled at in German, but it is about a million times scarier than your parents have ever said to you. His knowledge of English was slim to none and the only thing he could say was “it is finished” and “two minutes”. After us honors students put two and two together, all hell broke loose. For everyone who knows me well should know that this just about gave me a heart attack (I don’t handle being late well). As my graceful self quickly got out of bed, I hit the hot tea off my bed, spilling it everywhere. But with two minutes on the clock, that had to be ignored. As Olivia threw down luggage that weighed about a ton to me, I threw them down the hallway while everyone helped clean our cabin and attempt to grab everything. A special thank you to Abby Souder for being the only responsible one of the group and grabbing our rail passes, which are our lifeline for the rest of our trip. We made it off the train with my heart rate at 128, but little did we know we had plenty of time to spare. As we stood outside the train trying to find our bearings, the train sat there for a solid ten minutes and proceeded to sit there after we left. I am convinced our conductor had it in for us and enjoyed watching us Americans squirm a little bit. I reached this conclusion because I watched him share a chuckle with his colleague or should I save accomplice after watching us sprint off the train in sheer panic. Needless to say, first impressions while arriving in Munich (people wise) was not stellar.
Regardless of the rough morning, Dr. P treated us to a wonderful breakfast at a café in Marienplatz. I thought unwelcome feeling would change quickly but it continued when we sat down in the café a couple immediately got up to leave. I can’t say I blame them too much since you can hear us coming from about three blocks away but I felt myself getting hostile even though it was so early in our Munich experience. This view changed throughout our first day as we were awestruck by the city’s beauty. It was drastically different from Berlin, old architecture, calm streets, history at every turn. As abrupt as the morning was, it helped me realize how important it is to recognize and respect your surroundings. I love the way Americans make conversation, sing, and practically dance through life, but respecting the culture around us helped us to even further immerse into the society we entered. CR10 has capitalized on this by learning how to navigate the city, appreciate the culture, but still remain unapologetically ourselves.
Our first day in Munich turned out to be wonderful. We pushed through the tired, learned more about each other, and ended up jumping in a freezing cold river in the middle of a park. However, that night turned out to be the best night so far. We arrived at a Mexican restaurant that has been CR tradition for a decade now. My view of the Munich people made a complete 180 as the owner was nice enough to close down the restaurant just for us. Not only did he close it down, but he blasted music for us all to dance together and even our waitress joined. There was salsa dancing, two-stepping, A LOT of shimmying, and even Dr. P got out on the dance floor. My personal favorite was the conga line around the restaurant during Despacitos third time playing. But, before I continue, I a wonderful person that I have been lucky enough to come to know because of this trip.
Audrey Payne, if you do not know her, you need to get on that. In the middle of the dance party she pulls out this hidden talent of doing the worm. I personally have never seen a better worm in my life and I have Bennett Hofmeister for a brother. Not only can Audrey do the worm, but she is a phenomenal flute player in the band who plans to continue to pursue her music career after college by joining her community orchestra and teach private flute lessons. Alongside her music career, she would like to double as a lawyer. I am pretty sure the only step up from there is a secret agent, so watch out she could do that too. Audrey is one of those people that you can never stop learning enough about because her talents are endless, her spontaneity is magnetic, and she never ceases to amaze you. She is selfless, passionate, so incredibly kind-hearted, and brilliant in the most beautiful way. She is always keeping us on our toes and I am looking forward to many more surprises.
These first days in Munich have really pushed me to be open-minded. I would like to think that I was that way walking in, but I tend to form my views quickly if something goes wrong. Going back to the conductor putting me into cardiac arrest, I immediately thought that the whole city of Munich didn’t want us there. It took me all day and a nice restaurant owner named Martin to figure out how incredibly wrong I had been. The days followed have been taken by storm with an emphasis on allowing the culture to teach me before I write it off. We have one more day in Munich and I can definitely say it will be missed. (Keep going past pictures for the most important part)
One last, but very important thing. Today is my parents 31st wedding anniversary but these two have been together for a total of 36 years. Thank you for being the epitome of a Christ-centered relationship for John, Bennett, and I and always loving and supporting each other/us unconditionally. It has been the most beautiful thing to watch, learn from, and environment to grow up in. Thank you for giving me the two best friends/brothers I could ever ask for and allowing us to hang out with people as cool and as fun as you. Any parents that decide that they want to go play laser tag and whirly ball for their anniversary celebration definitely have it going on. I love and appreciate you so much and thank you for giving me this opportunity to explore abroad. I can’t wait to celebrate with you when I get back. I love ya’ll.