Sentiment in the Silence

I can’t count the number of times in the past 3.5 weeks where all I wanted was some peace and quiet. As I’m sure Dr. P can attest, CR10 is known for making our presence known everywhere we go. Whether it’s walking down the streets of Rome or eating dinner in a German beer hall, our energy hits like an uncontrollable wave. While I always appreciated our ability to make life entertaining, my borderline introverted/extroverted personality yearned for just 5 minutes of silence. In those overwhelming moments, that’s what I thought I needed. Yet, here I am, writing in the London-Heathrow airport, sipping on an iced coffee surrounded by thousands of people from all around the world and I’ve seldom ever been more aware of the silence. Though the echoes of rolling suitcases and voices of young children create a monotonous, dull roar, I am overwhelmed by an intense silence; a silence I thought that I needed. But as I sit here and reflect on my unease in the silence, I realize that it’s not the silence that is causing my sadness, but rather the void that the silence represents; the void of my familia.

The noise was always more than just a noise. The noise was Jake Lynn cracking obscure jokes. It was Brittany Harano’s booming laughter. It was Nishu Sadagopan’s insightful knowledge. The noise was the angelic voice of Indigo Crandell, the thought provoking questions of Kyle Hepting and Lauren Rasmussen, and the Parent Trap references of Olivia Chambers and Olivia Wales. It was Emma Hofmeister’s quick wit, Taylor Long’s pristine storytelling abilities, and Abby Souder’s awareness of the world around her. It was Marat Rosencrants’s calming voice and Audrey Payne’s words of wisdom. It was Ryal Reddick’s voice of motivation and Jacob James finding his true inner voice. It was Lindsey and Dr. P’s continuous voice of reason. Sitting in the silence, this void is all too present. In the silence I thought I needed, I yearn for just one more moment in the chaos.

Dr. P told us not to lament at CR being over, but how can I not lament when I feel that part of my heart is being left in Europe? These 17 individuals have impacted my life in ways that I could have never imagined. They taught me to be patient with others around me, to be comfortable following a leader, and to be present in conversation. They forced me to challenge my beliefs and to learn to defend what I believe in while also keeping an open mind to what others have to say. They taught me the importance of intentionality and what it means to put others before yourself. They showed me that life isn’t always perfect, that you will argue over which street to take or where you should eat lunch. But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about accepting one another as they are and appreciating their differences while continually pushing them to be the best versions of themselves.

While I’m sad our European experience is over, I am optimistic about where the future will take us. Cultural Routes has influenced each of us in so many ways and has inspired me personally to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself. We have been given an incredibly special and unique opportunity to use the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been to on CR to catalyze the development of a mindset centered around being a global citizen. In a world that is increasingly more egocentric, it is important that we focus not on what is best for ourselves, but what is best for humanity as a whole. One of the things that was really revealed to me in these past 3.5 weeks was where we find value in other human beings. Throughout history, people have been valued based on gender, race, religion, and nationality and they have been subjected to discrimination based on these qualities. Despite our acknowledgment of these wrongs, they are still present in our society today. While I’m very proud to be an American, I never want to have a view of others that is so nationalistic and selfish as to degrade people unlike myself. In a world that is becoming increasingly more globalized, it is important that we see the value in all of humanity, not just those like ourselves.

CR10 has 3 more years. 3 more years to make a difference at TCU and to create a legacy that will leave TCU a better place. We’ve been given the tools to make it happen. Now, it’s up to us. How much am I willing to do? How much does it matter? Even if I’m not the next student body president and even if I’ll never be the perfect 4.0 student, CR has showed me that I have qualities that extend deeper than grades and visibility on campus. I have qualities that make me unique, that allow me to make deep connections with those around me, and that make me a valuable asset to a cause for change. Big change stems from small actions. They stem from investing in everyone around you and acting upon good intentions and being kind to everyone. As I look toward the future and CR10’s potential to make an impact on campus, I hope to remember the wise words of my mom: “When in doubt, just be kind.”

Ciao Europa,

Brooke Boisvert

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Wait, is that lightning?

“Lean back! Keep your head back!”

These were the last words I heard as I took what I honestly thought could be my last breath before my head was submerged in freezing cold water.

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When I signed up for canyoning the day before, I had somehow conceived this idea that canyoning would be “easy”; that navigating my way through rapids with only my body “wasn’t going to be that hard.” I was wrong. Canyoning is the epitome of extreme sports. From repelling off ledges to back flopping into a river, nothing is without danger. I thought that due to my prior athletic endeavors, this would be a piece of cake. But as I’ve come to learn with CR, you can’t expect things to be easy. You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable and push yourself past boundaries you once thought held you back. As we traversed down these Swiss rapids, this became all too evident. Despite my own personal inability to keep my head above the water, I watched as Emma continually conquered her fear of heights. Though each jump was a mental challenge for her, it was so inspiring to see her confidence increase exponentially from her initial repel to her final jump. Each time she came face to face with heights, she made a conscious effort to overcome an obstacle. Each time, she didn’t let her fear define her. Each time, she decided to be comfortable being uncomfortable. As we finished our canyoning endeavor, we realized that our extreme sports adventure was more than just that. Interlaken was going to test us in ways we had not yet seen during CR. Our growth wasn’t to come from our analysis of the world around us, but an analysis of ourselves as we wrestled with personal fears and stepped out of our comfort zones. This brought upon the biggest test of all: skydiving.

I knew when we got to Interlaken I was going to go skydiving, no questions asked. (This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that knows me. I live for the thrill.) It wasn’t until I was fully suited up waiting for the first group to drop from the sky that I began to wonder about the dark clouds rolling in from the distance. Having waited on the platform for nearly two hours, I was going to be extremely disheartened if this once in a lifetime experience fell through. Luckily, the lady at the front desk assured us that we could drop through rain, just not lightning. As I stood wondering whether that should be reassuring or concerning, I saw the first group fall through the clouds. One by one, I watched as their parachutes opened. Once all six opened, my nerves from their plummet subsided and once again, I focused on the incoming clouds.

Please hold off.”

This was my one shot, I wasn’t about to let a little rain ruin it. Fortunately for the remaining six of us, the crew made a quick turn around and we ascended 13,000 feet over the Swiss countryside.

Wait, is that lightning?”

I told my mom before I left for CR that skydiving in the Swiss Alps wouldn’t be the worst way to go. Though I only said this to be dramatic, when my feet fell over the side of the plane and lightning flashed in the distance, I began to retract that statement. With one last prayer, we dropped from the sky. Despite having always thought the most enjoyable part of skydiving would be once the parachute opened, I found that I never wanted to stop free falling. It was exhilarating. In that moment, all burdens were gone. Every difficulty I was facing was out of my mind. The thought of being struck by lightning didn’t faze me. The only thing I was focused on was appreciating the beauty and treasuring the moment. After about 45 seconds, the parachute opened and we began our five minute descent back to land. Just like that it was over.

When I began this blog post, I thought it was mainly going to be a summary of one of the most unforgettable moments of my life and for the most part, it is. But as I look back and reflect on that day, I’ve come to realize that it was so much more than just an exhilarating experience. May 26, 2018 was the day I learned to be humbled in my strengths, to celebrate one another’s accomplishments, to support one another in times of need, and to appreciate every moment we have on this earth. I found that life is a lot like skydiving. It may be scary at times and there may be some lightning along the way, but with the support of people who love you and care about you, you can make the leap of faith and take a chance on getting out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve leapt, you’ll wonder why you never did sooner and it’s not until the the end that you’ll realize how fast time flies and you wish you could go back and do it again. Looking back on freshman year and even CR, I can see how much this rings true. Life is too short to live in fear of what could happen. I can either choose to live in fear of the <1% chance of getting struck by lightning or I can take a chance and have the time of my life. I think I’ll choose the second.

Brooke Boisvert

 

Look Up

Head down, keep walking.”

If I keep walking, maybe the horror won’t sink in.

Head down, keep walking.”

If I keep my head down, maybe they won’t see my tears.

Head down, keep walking.”

If I avoid it long enough, maybe I will wake up and realize it’s all a bad dream…

But I didn’t wake up. I didn’t keep walking. I didn’t keep my head down.

I looked up.

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I’ve been learning about the Holocaust since the fifth grade when Mrs. Mooring dedicated an entire semester to the atrocities that occurred during World War II. From then on my curiosity about the events only grew, leading me to seek knowledge in other sources including books and first person accounts from people who lived during the tragedy. While I always thought it would be interesting to see a concentration camp for myself, never did I imagine that I would actually get a chance to go to one. Once I got accepted on CR, I knew that this once far fetched idea was going to come to life. I was going to see a concentration camp for myself. I was going to come face to face with the darkest parts of humanity.

In a journal before CR, I reflected on what I believed Dachau would be like:

When I imagine the day we step foot on Dachau soil, I imagine the sky being an ominous grey, the sun trying to peek through, but the clouds being impenetrable to its rays. When I think of Dachau, I can feel the lump in my throat that, despite constant swallowing, won’t seem to go away. When I think of Dachau, I imagine the tragedy, I can see the tragedy, and I mourn the tragedy. That day, we will be broken.”

As we pulled up in our bus to the Dachau stop, I found my predictions to be all too accurate. The sky was grey from the soft rain. The air was cool and brisk. The only sounds that could be heard were the movement of gravel under my feet coupled with the occasional chirping of birds. Desolation echoed through the long pathway leading up to the Dachau gate. Despite being surrounded by my fellow CR familia, I have never felt more alone.

Entering the gates, I was struck by the monotony of the complex. The barracks and main house blended in with the sky and the gravel. Everything was the same. This similarity reinforced the idea of deindividualization. Much like the buildings, each human life that walked through that gate was subjected to dehumanizing acts that allowed the SS to view them as inferior subordinates. By taking away their humanity, they were able to categorize each individual as one in the same; looped into an all encompassing box. As I walked into the main house that now served as the Dachau museum, I was able to see these dehumanizing tools for myself. The hair clippers, the striped uniforms, the removal of personal belongings, all of it intended to demoralize. The Nazi Regime utilized every avenue and calculated every detail to ensure the prisoners recognized their inferiority.

“You are without rights, dishonorable, and defenseless. You’re a pile of shit, and that is how you are going to be treated.”

– Josef Jarolin, protective custody camp leader to the new Dachau prisoners, 1941

This heinous quote and many more littered the museum. Around every corner, there were more and more examples of the capabilities of evil in humanity.

“…the more prisoners that die, the better.”

How can someone say this? How can we be so inhumane? What’s worse is this quote is in reference to the treatment of prisoners by medical professionals. As an aspiring physician, I wrestled with this quote a lot. Doctors are supposed to be lifesavers, not life takers. They are not called to decide who lives and who dies. Their one job is to ensure they do everything in their power to help their patient. This is outlined best in the Hippocratic oath, which has been taken by doctors since its initial conception in 275 AD. In it, it states:

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

Dachau is the epitome of harm and injustice. Those who worked there spared no mercy upon the innocent lives. As I continued to walk through the museum, this idea of insensitivity only strengthened. Families were broken. People were starved. Labor was gruesome. There was no right to live. One after another, these atrocities compounded. By the time I left the Dachau museum, I had become numb to the pain. It was easier that way. But as I walked outside, I ventured near a memorial in front of the main house. Two things stood there: the ashes of the unknown and a memorial that read “Never Again.”

I stood there for a while, looking back and forth from the ashes to the sign. Up until this point, death was guarded by words on a page. It wasn’t real. Now it was right in front of me. People’s lives in a box. At this realization, I turned toward the barracks. Like a wave, everything I’d ever learned, heard, or seen about the holocaust hit me at once. I burst into tears.

I walked through the barracks, I walked through the crematorium, and I walked through the gas chamber. I walked on the paths to the shooting range. I wanted to keep walking, knowing that if I were to stop, my emotions would only escalate. I kept my head down, hoping that people wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes. I couldn’t come to terms with this horrific reality. How could this happen? In the middle of a path, I prayed for clarity, for peace, and for hope. In my brokenness, I could only find solace in God alone. This led me to the Carmelite Chapel.

Walking into the chapel, I felt unworthy. I felt separated from such a perfect and loving God, knowing how broken I am. Yet at the same time, I could feel His love, His guiding hand on my shoulder telling me to look up and face the world. Until that point, I was timid and afraid. I couldn’t face the tragedies of this world on my own. I wasn’t strong enough. But when I walked out of the chapel, I lifted my eyes to see the world. I had a sense of peace that wasn’t there before. I was reminded of the goodness in humanity with words I’d seen in the museum. A story of a Jewish doctor who willingly risked his life to treat fellow patients with typhus, knowing that he would one day contract the disease and die. A story of two selfless victims carrying the burden of four men because the other two men were too weak to carry the load for themselves. In the face of indescribable hate, love prevailed. People were good.

Dachau was needed. I needed to be broken in order to see the extent to which hatred can divide the world. But even in that darkness, love lived. Not even the most elaborate attempts at demoralization could suffocate the power of love. Much like white juxtaposes black, so love juxtaposes hate. While it may be difficult to come to terms with the hate in this world, we must realize that turning a blind eye isn’t the answer. We must face these problems head on and look for answers. We must show love.

Brooke Boisvert

Transitions

When Dr. P says CR is all in 24/7, he means it. Not to say that I didn’t believe him before, but I assumed it was more of an exaggeration rather than the cold hard truth. From the first moment we landed in Berlin’s Tegel Airport, we’ve been challenged emotionally, physically, and intellectually to explore and push ourselves past our comfort zones. Even before our first full day in Berlin, Dr. P took us to Bebelplatz, the site of the mass burning of more than 20,000 pieces of literature. There he asked us to look for something out of place; something that didn’t belong. Shortly after, we came upon a transparent box in the otherwise stone floor. In it was a white room filled with rows on rows of empty book shelves, representing the books lost to the flames. In that spot, ideas were lost forever, knowledge was suffocated, and free thought was expunged. In that spot, the transition to cultural isolation began.

If you were to look at Berlin today without having any knowledge of its past, you would think it is one of the most progressive and culturally aware cities in the world. While this is true in many ways, it strongly juxtaposes against a Berlin that, only 75 years earlier, was the place of monolithic, facist thought, eventually leading to one of the most horrific events in world history: the holocaust. Yet, this transition from anti-semitic rhetoric to one of openness and inclusion has been met with an equally impressive recognition for the past as seen in memorials such as the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Topography of Terror. Each of these memorials were not only erected using money from the German government, but they are maintained and operated by the Germans despite free admission to the memorials. This speaks volumes to the transitions in government ideals. Rather than sweeping their past under the rug, the German people own up to their past and accept whatever burden is placed upon them to ensure that all past wrong doings are acknowledged and reflected on. We, as Americans, could learn a lot from this.

While the German ownership is impressive, the memorials themselves were astonishing. Team Alpha arrived at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe for our first venture of CR. We were all extremely excited to arrive, yet what we saw was extremely different than what we expected (Except for Emma and Kyle, they knew what to expect #fcberlin2017). On a street corner not far from the Brandenburg gate stood a multitude of grey rectangular columns of varying heights. Come to find out, this sea of grey was the memorial.

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What I loved most about this memorial was it’s unassuming nature. Had I not known it was a memorial, I would have walked by without a second thought. Yet, in the same way I would walk by without acknowledgement, so did the world as they watched the travesty of the holocaust unfold, never doing anything until it was too late; when the transition from bystander to victim had already taken place. This ambiguity in the memorial allowed for personal interpretation, giving a static piece dynamic ability.

In contrast to the above ground memorial, The museum below serves to put meaning to the blocks and to answer the questions of all those who wonder. Upon entering there is a quote from Primo Levi:

“It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.”

Six million Jews were murdered in the holocaust. There is gravity in six million people. Never in my life have I ever seen one million people, let alone six. When I visited the museum, I couldn’t help but shake the thought that “this would never happen again.” Even now as I write this, I want to believe it’s not possible, that people are innately good. But if people are innately good, why did this ever happen?

“…the transition from starvation to genocide.”

The intent wasn’t to kill. The intent was to starve. The intent doesn’t matter. When plans are formed with ill-intent, the fall is swift and inevitable. This idea was adequately reinforced through the Topography of Terror memorial.

In the economic instability that ensued following World War I, the German people sought a leader that could resurrect their lost power and reestablish Germany as a world super power. Adolf Hitler was that person. In desperate times, people needed a leader. Where there was hope, there were the masses. Hitler was able to capitalize on the instability of a nation to push an agenda of evil, in turn changing the course of history forever. Propaganda turned into words. Words turned into prejudice. Prejudice turned into discrimination. Discrimination turned into the systematic murder of six million Jews, once again signaling a transition from hope to despair.

As society turns to a new chapter and transitions past the atrocities seen in the holocaust, it is important that we understands the magnitude of what took place nearly 80 years ago. People both young and old were stripped from their homes, forced into labor, and degraded to a point where their only identifying quality was their religion. They were herded like cattle into box cars and taken miles across Germany to concentration camps where they were forced to say goodbye to their family members, knowing the inevitability of their impending doom. Though we will never be able to give back the lives that were stolen, we have the power to ensure that their legacy is never forgotten. We have the power to seek knowledge beyond that of our own culture. We have the power to love those unlike ourselves. We have the power to stand up for humanity. We have the power to do what is right.

Brooke Boisvert

 

The Calm Before the Storm

The last few weeks of freshman year were a whirlwind. The combination of formals, lab papers and finals consumed my brain non-stop, leaving no time for any thought about CR. It wasn’t until halfway through my biology final that it finally hit me; I was going to be in Europe in less than a week! At this realization, I began smiling like a complete fool. Yes, during a 100-question comprehensive biology final, I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m sure my fellow peers questioned my sanity, but in that moment, I had no care in the world.

I walked out of my last final and a rush of elation and sleep deprivation washed over me. I had made it through my first-year of the Pre-Med gauntlet. But it was calm, almost too calm. While this normally would be exactly what I’d be looking for following a long year, this was different. This was the type of calm people from Texas know all too well. This was the deceiving calm of a southern spring afternoon. This was the calm before the storm.

Before the largest and most powerful storms, the wind dies down, the blue-sky fades to an ominous green, and the world becomes filled with an eerie silence. Cultural Routes is that storm. I know the tranquility I am experiencing following finals will soon no longer be there. Soon, the opportunity of the lifetime will be presented to me with full force and I have to be ready. When the storm hits, I need to be prepared. While I look forward to the opportunity of forging a legacy unique to CR10, we are faced with the challenge of meeting the standards set before us by past CR familia. This is both inspiring and intimidating. To follow in the footsteps of some of TCU’s best and brightest is a lot to undertake, especially when you feel that your name is not nearly worthy enough to be placed in the same sentence as them. Yet, I am optimistic. When the pressure is on, I settle in to my zone. You know what they say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Despite my optimism, I do have true apprehensions. Cultural Routes has always held a position of reverence in my mind. I hope that it proves to be everything I have imagined; that I’ll grow in my knowledge of world cultures, that I’ll step out of my comfort zone, that I’ll grow in my character and faith, and that I’ll make friendships to last a lifetime. The last is what I look forward to most. Anyone can travel the world and see the largest, most opulent and historically significant monuments. What separates Cultural Routes from any other experience is the ability to use these locations and monuments to catalyze a deeper understanding of self and others. We live in a world that revolves around the ability to understand, communicate, and empathize with one another. If we are unable to do even that, we have lost the one thing that separates mankind from any other species on Earth. We have wasted our God-given potential.

As I finish writing this, there is less than 19 hours until I board for Berlin. I am excited, no, I’m beyond excited. This is it folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Berlin, here I come!

Brooke Boisvert

 

What are the Odds?

Growing up, my parents attempted to subdue my fearless nature with one of the most basic parent quotes of all time: “If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Even today, I would have to begrudgingly respond with a defeated “no.” However, would I follow my friends out of a plane 14,000 feet in the air while in the Swiss Alps? Now that’s a completely different story (sorry mom).

I’ve always been one for adventure. Monotonous routine bores me. When I think of
Interlaken, I can’t help but think that this is the place where all of my high adventure needs will be met. To be honest, until recently, this was all Interlaken was to me; a fun stop filled with chocolate and cheese that would allow us to have a break from our journey through the intense cultural labyrinth that is CR. While Interlaken may be the place with the fewest museums and historical encyclopedias, I am looking forward to finding the beauty in the unwritten, a true glimpse of the culture with no preconceptions of what to expect.

As the midpoint of our experience, Interlaken offers us a period of self-reflection; a moment to think back to our time in Germany while mentally preparing for the upcoming ubiquitous Italian culture. Yet, this is no break. As CR7’s Mary Grekstas puts it, “Interlaken was a great time for the group to bond.” Interlaken is known on CR for its infamous canyoning and hang-gliding endeavors, but even more recently skydiving. It should come as no surprise that this isn’t exactly everyone’s forte. In the words of CR9’s Madeline Pitcock, skydiving is “terrifying.” While I myself am enamored with the thought of jumping out of a plane in the extreme sports capital of the world, I cannot speak for the other members of CR10. With that being said, I look forward to seeing how each member of the Crecade overcomes their adversities and lets go of their fears for the chance to be present in a once in a lifetime experience.

Beyond high adventure, Interlaken is most notable for its stunning landscape. Translating to “between lakes”, Interlaken rests between Lake Brienz to the east and Lake Thun to the west in addition to being surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Nearly every facet of nature is present here. It is an outdoorsman’s paradise. This excites me for a few reasons, one of them being that I get to see the grandeur of God’s creation in some of its most opulent forms. I get to see, hear, smell, and touch the wonders that is has to offer while being surrounded by people who wish to do the same. Commonality fosters community and there is no doubt that we will all be able to resonate with one another over something as beautiful as Interlaken.

Despite my only certainty about Interlaken being that Dr. P makes us eat an “aggressively cheesy fondue dish”, I am excited to venture into the unknown, to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and to grow alongside of the familia every step of the way. As for any of the Crecade who may have doubts about participating in high adventure, I have one last question for you:

What are the odds?

1 out of 1,

Brooke Boisvert

 

 

The Girl Who Never Sleeps

“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.

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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.

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“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,

Brooke Boisvert