Heading back to Georgia
June 12, 2018
I am currently in an airplane, heading from London Heathrowe to the Hartsfield Jackson airport in Atlanta. After spending three and a half weeks with my Cultural Routes 10 familia, I’m not sure what being home will feel like. Part of me is eager to get some r&r and time to process… But a big part of my heart feels like I’m gonna be wishing I was back in Europe, preparing for a day of brand new adventures. Each day of CR was full of discoveries, conversations, smiles, challenges, and growth. Some days were more challenging than others (check out Marat’s blog about transportation…), but I can assure you there was not a single day that was boring or predictable. I appreciate that Dr. P didn’t reveal to us the full itinerary ahead of time. He usually didn’t even give us a hint at what the next day would look like. We were encouraged to enjoy the present moment and trust that tomorrow would come at just the right time–not worth worrying about it! Reminds me of a verse in the book of Matthew that tells us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring about its own troubles. Basically, since worrying is not productive even in the slightest, the best thing we can do for ourselves is focus on the moment we are in and trust that we will have all we need for tomorrow. With that in mind, CR10 helped me realize how truly special each and every day is. If I become so preoccupied with tomorrow, I miss out on the wonders of today. Skydiving happened and was fantastic, but I’m so glad I didn’t spend the first week of CR thinking about it. I got to enjoy Germany and then experience the beauty and adventure of Interlaken all in its own time. And then I got to move on and be present in Italy.
This mindset of being present and enjoying where I am carried over into my two days in Dublin with my family, right after CR10 ended. Instead of asking, “Where are we going next?” or “What are we doing for dinner?” a hundred times like I’m more accustomed to, I caught myself before I asked and reminded myself to enjoy the moment before it was gone. I admit, I may have asked about dinner a couple of times, but I’m certainly getting better. It’s all about the process.
Because I know I’ll be giving advice to future CR members, I figure I may as well start now while it’s fresh. I’m sure I’ll have more to add as time goes by, but here’s what I would tell future members of the familia at this point:
- Some or all of my advice may not apply to you, and that’s okay. I found that some of the advice I received before CR helped me, and some did not necessarily help me. But none of it hurt me. My advice is to not rely too heavily on the advice you receive. Take that as you will. I do appreciate all of the words of wisdom from mi familia. But urge you not to let our advice hinder you from going into CR free of specific expectations. I think part of the beauty of CR is that you are not in control of your experience. You are in control of your reaction to your experience. But, in a large capacity, your ultimate growth is not entirely up to you. Just let it happen. So when you are told to make sure you do this or that, take it all with a grain of salt!
- Pack lightly if you can. I brought a pretty large backpack and a fairly small carry-on sized roller suitcase. I re-wore a few t-shirts, but traveling was so easy. I don’t regret my packing choices at all.
- Drink lots of water. It’s not always free, but it’s always worth it… Your body will thank you!
- If you have a sensitive gut, maybe don’t eat gelato three times in one day. Just a warning, but do as you will……. Gelato is delicious….
- Give yourself grace. You’re gonna mess up and you’re gonna have rough days. I promise you, everyone does. I struggled a lot with energy. I’m typically a very bubbly, energetic gal, but I have found that when I run low on energy, it’s noticeable. I can go from about 75 to 15 mph in a matter of seconds. People would ask me if I was okay, and I’d be like, “Yep! Just tired.” But after a while, I started to question myself. Eventually, I got so frustrated with myself for “not being me.” I thought I had to be energetic to be the most authentic version of myself. Then, after sharing some of my feelings and struggles with a close CR10 buddy, Audrey Payne, and listening to her words of wisdom, I started to get it. I learned that I am someone who needs a bit of quiet, laid-back time to re-charge. Though I didn’t get much alone time on this experience, I did learn how to stand back and quietly observe for a little bit, when necessary. For me, it was less about my energy levels and more about embracing grace.
- Bring your TCU student ID. Many times in museums and memorials, we were offered a student discount with our IDs.
Ultimately, this has been the most exciting three and a half weeks of my life, and I can’t express how grateful I am for this experience and new friendships. I’m quite sure I will continue to make many personal discoveries over my next three years at TCU and beyond because of CR10 and these people. Thank you Dr. P, Lindsey, Audrey, Kyle, Abby, Jacob, Jake, Ryal, Brooke, Emma, Brittany, Nishu, Lauren, Taylor, OC, Olivia W, and Marat. I have learned so much from each of you, and I can’t wait to be back on campus with y’all! And special thanks to Kaity Butcher and Davis Donaldson for making this happen.
So much love,