This blog post is going to be a little different than the rest of the posts I’ve done. Instead of a long post describing a single day in detail, I compiled a list of some of the moments from CR that make me smile.
The first night in Florence: Dr. P surprised us with one of the most beautiful activities yet. We walked along the Arno River and paused by the Ponte Vecchio bridge, one of the few bridges in the area not destroyed by Hitler’s army during World War II. As we were watching the sun set over the Arno, Dr. P walked over to us and asked us if we were ready to get on the river. Sure enough, we looked at the river and saw a gondola waiting for us. We climbed in and floated along the river as the sun set and the lights came on. The streetlights along the river added a fairytale feel to the scene, making the water twinkle in the light. This night makes me smile because I sat next to Brooke, who was laughing with joy the whole time because she was enjoying the experience so much.
The second night in Florence: Dr. P made sure to bring us to the Piazza della Signoria in time to see the street musicians. We relaxed on some nearby steps as we listened to a guitarist play hit songs to a soundtrack in the background, eventually ending with the tenor aria Nessun Dorma. Next, to my surprise and joy, a flute player arrived to perform. As another flute player, my jaw dropped in awe as this man began to play. His flute playing was absolutely magical! He opened with “Beauty and the Beast” and blew everyone away with his performance. He also ended his performance with Nessun Dorma, filling the air with his magical sound. I smiled the whole evening listening to him play and looking around at the artwork in the piazza. Florence is a perfect blend of art, culture, and history rolled into one city. I love music, so experiencing that kind of music in a place so full of creativity and life was an experience I’ll never forget.
The first day in Rome: After traveling to Rome in the morning, we dropped our bags off and had lunch. Unfortunately, I was feeling awful. I had the beginnings of a sinus infection and the symptoms were wearing me down. I could barely focus during the meal because I couldn’t breathe, I felt dizzy, and my throat hurt. Dr. P pulled me aside and suggested that I don’t participate in the cooking class that evening so that I would be rested for the Vatican the next day. I reluctantly agreed. I’m not going to lie, I was heartbroken that I would be missing out on a unique opportunity to learn to make pasta, tiramisu, and other yummy foods with fifteen of my best friends. However, I understood that the Vatican was going to be an experience of a lifetime, so I stayed behind. To my surprise, right before everyone left the hotel to go to the cooking class, Brooke and Emma came into the room and brought me goodies from the store nearby! They gave me a giant bottle of water, a Powerade, some caramel candies, and Kit Kats, which are my favorite chocolate candy bars. It meant so much to me that they thought to treat me and take care of me, knowing I would be disappointed that I was missing out on the class. Even after the class, everyone came in to check on me and see how I was feeling. They even brought me dinner and hung out with me as I ate, telling me stories from the cooking class and joking around. I felt so loved and cared for, which really helped me cope with the disappointment of missing out on the cooking class.
The third day in Rome: We had the opportunity to visit the Villa Aurora, a historic hunting lodge owned by Princess Rita Boncompagni. She gave us a personal tour of the villa, pointing out the breathtaking frescoes and describing the magnificent artwork in each room in detail. We paused in one of the rooms for a while as the princess told us about the history of the villa. She asked us if there were any singers among us, and Indigo raised her hand. The princess then told us we were standing in the room where the idea for opera was born! She then asked Indigo to sing for the group – she wanted to record it and store the in the building’s archives. Indigo agreed. She sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and her angelic voice took everyone’s breath away. She even made some people cry. Afterward, we were stunned and silent for a moment, then rushed her with hugs and smiles while the princess looked on.
These are just a few of the countless moments of CR that make me smile. It is impossible to describe CR accurately to someone who hasn’t experienced it; the best I can do is describe moments like these. CR is so much more than a trip. CR is an incredible, indescribable experience because of the people we experience it with. Without Indigo, Emma, Olivia Wales, Brooke, Ryal, Kyle, Jake, Jacob, Marat, Nishu, Taylor, Olivia Chambers, Brittany, Lauren, Abby, Dr. P, and Lindsey, the experience would have been completely different. These people pushed me out of my comfort zone, changed my perspective, and inspired me to learn and grow. They comforted me when I was down, made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, and forged friendships so strong that I know they will last for a lifetime. There is no better way to get to know people than through getting lost together in foreign cities, and as I got to know everyone, I was constantly impressed and humbled by how much I have to learn from these people. I could not be more thankful that I am lucky enough to call all of these people my friends.
Although it pains me to say goodbye to three and a half weeks of life-changing experiences, we are stepping forward into the future together. CR may be over, but we can carry everything we have learned and the friendships we have made into the rest of our time at TCU and beyond. I am sorry to let CR go, but I cannot wait to continue to build these friendships for the rest of my life. Thank you so much, Dr. P and Lindsey, for the opportunity to experience CR. Thank you, fellow CR students, for making CR an experience I will never forget. Tu es familia.