Video: Indigo Singing at Villa Aurora in the Footsteps of History

This is a brief story about TCU Honors student and theater major Indigo Crandell and a chance to sing where opera was first conceived of as an idea. It is a story of learning, history, experience, love, passion, exploration, and discovery. It’s what makes Honors learning truly uncommon and memorable.

During the final days of CR10, the group had the unique pleasure of visiting Villa Aurora in Rome and being hosted by HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. Princess Rita generously provided a magical afternoon for students, as she gracefully walked us through rooms where artistic, political, theological, and scientific history had been shaped. A beautiful building came alive with every story she told. For starters, the villa is built on the Gardens of Sallust, where Caesar reportedly romanced Cleopatra. About Villa Aurora and its role as a host to some of history’s most important thinkers, writers, and artists, Princess Rita said in her speech delivered at the Institute for Digital Archaeology Conference at Harvard University:

… it is a small miracle that the Villa Aurora even exists.
Oftentimes, I marvel when I sit beneath Guercino’s Aurora and imagine Bernini playing cards with Ludovico Ludovisi. Or Galileo gazing at the stars from our roof observatory, the highest point in Rome, where he left two of his telescopes.
Or Vittoria Archilei, the leading soprano of her day, singing solo a cappella in the Aurora room in 1602. It shocked her audience. Up until that time, everyone sang polyphonically, together to God.  Her performance inspired Cavalieri to write the first opera, in 1606.
I am in awe every, single day when I think of the people who have graced our home, Tchaikowsky, Hawthorne, Stendahl, La Notre, Goethe—or more recently, Woody Allen and Madonna.
Gogol, after he finished Dead Souls, walked around our garden smoking a cigar. Henry James  wrote portions of Italian Hours under a great Lebanese cedar in our back garden.
One problem with the Villa Aurora is that we keep on finding unknown treasures. For example, our Caravaggio was rediscovered only in 1968. It had been painted over, with black paint no less.

And this brings us to Indigo. At the strong urging of Princess Rita, who also filmed the performance for the Villa Aurora’s archives, Indigo sang a song under Guercino’s Aurora in the room where opera was first imagined. Here is Indigo’s impromptu performance. Enjoy the scenery, the sound, and the learning!

 

 

We didn’t start the Firenze

I do not know how to sum up the last two cities we went to except to say that they made an incredible impact on my relationships with the people I am now proud to call mi familia. Time seemed to fly by, but the unique culture of each city impacted each of us differently and ultimately brought us much closer together.

I will always look back and miss the art and the views and the food, but all of that pales in comparison to what I will miss most, what I think most of us will miss most: being in these incredible places with each other. Never have I so quickly bonded with 15 strangers on such a deep level in my life, and I sincerely miss each and every one every day.

I will do the briefest summary I can muster of the impact these people have had on my life, because they are all too incredible and unique to not be celebrated individually.

Emma

Emma lived two doors down from me and we hardly spoke a word together until we reached Berlin. This is probably one of my biggest regrets of freshman year, because Emma is a wonderful person. Through CR I learned how incredibly kind and devoted Emma is. Her openness about her struggles inspired me to be more open about my own, and her incredible prevailing faith radiated from her in her amazingly positive attitude. She is hilarious, she is strong, and she stands firm in her beliefs. She has direction; she knows what she’s doing and she guides others through everything; from failure to joy, she’s there for it all.

Audrey

Audrey seriously surprised me when it came to CR. I had been in a class with her and knew her to be quiet and introverted; I didn’t mind that, I consider myself to be an introvert as well so I know how taxing it can be to constantly be around people for 3 and a half weeks. But Audrey never had a moment where she looked like she was struggling; she embraced her struggles and made them clear to us so we could help her through them and in doing so, I think they became less of a burden to her. Audrey taught me that it’s okay to admit you’re introverted so maybe you want to observe and don’t wanna scream on the train all the time, but it’s also okay to get outside your comfort zone and explore as much as possible. She taught me it’s okay to express who I am, because everyone loves you regardless. I am so thankful to her for that, as well as the incredible quote book she kept for all of CR. May the Crecade always live on through those memories.

OC

OC is a wordsmith, and she’s a lot smarter than most people give her credit for. She knows what she’s saying; there’s a reason the quote book is 90% OC quotes, and it’s because she’s hilarious. She says whatever she is thinking, and most of the time it’s funny. When it comes to actually writing, OC is one of the best writers I’ve ever actually met. She can articulate feelings and encapsulate moments in words in a way I don’t understand and honestly, I envy. OC taught me to never be afraid to say a dumb thing out loud, because who cares what other people think? She also taught me the importance of humility; she is absolutely brilliant, but she doesn’t constantly talk about it or brag about her accomplishments. She makes self-deprecating jokes and is always a good sport, but is genuinely one of the smartest and most humble people I know.

Wales

Ahhh, Olivia Wales. You could say we knew each other coming into CR (go Chi-O), but that didn’t stop me from learning more about her as the experience went on. She is enthusiastic about everything and will put 110% effort into everything that she’s doing, which is such an important quality to have. Her energy lifted others up when we were all exhausted and I’m sure she was exhausted too, but she always had a smile on her face and was ready to go to the next thing. Her incredible spirit and love for life inspired me to be more energetic and enthusiastic and made me realize what an impact my own energy and actions could have on the people around me. Olivia also taught me that it’s okay not to be too open; she showed me that there is power and nobility in keeping some things to yourself.

Lauren

Lauren filled every day with more love than I have ever seen in my life. She is a constant light to everyone around her; she is always smiling and always reminding everyone how truly loved they are, not only spiritually but also by those around them. Lauren was open to every conversation and every time I talked to her I came out feeling a thousand percent more loved than when I went in. She has a way of inspiring the best in people, and though I know she struggles with it, I so admire her wonderfully positive outlook on everyday life. Lauren taught me how to start difficult but necessary conversations and make others feel so incredibly loved.

Brittany

I honestly wonder how I made it all year without Brittany Harano. She is goofy, she is caring, she is graceful, and she is my soul sister on about 1000 levels. She spent an entire day doing horrible British accents with me, trying to teach me ballet, and coming up with the weirdest possible poses for the camera, most of which involved both of us almost breaking our backs. She taught me to be unashamedly myself; who cares if German people are staring at how weird you look? You’re never going to see them again. Like, actually never. She also taught me what to do when I felt uncomfortable; there were days when everyone felt stressed and were getting frustrated and it would start to make me panic, but Brittany would just remain at the back of the group with me and goof off, doing ballet in inconvenient places or posing like statues. I’m so very grateful for Brittany Harano and the lessons she taught me.

Brooke

Brooke and I sat right next to each other for an entire semester of Spanish and spoke maybe 10 words to each other the whole time and I am so mad at myself for that. I was mainly embarrassed at how bad I was at Spanish and didn’t want the pretty nice girl sitting next to me to think I was a complete idiot because she was, like, a genius. But Brooke is so much more than an incredibly beautiful genius; she is also kind, and independent, and a leader, and one of the strongest people I’ve come to know. I think I learned the most from Brooke the day we went to San G; I don’t deal with stress well, so when our plans completely fell apart I checked out and just tried my hardest not to have a panic attack. But Brooke thrived under the pressure; she helped people calm down, dictated who needed to call who and when, and got our schedule back on track so that we would make it back on time. It was like watching Wonder Woman work. She didn’t even bat an eye, she just leapt into action, thinking only of how to solve the problem and how to keep everyone as calm as possible and make sure our experience was still enjoyable. Brooke always puts others first and is never afraid of a challenge. She has worked incredibly hard to get where she is and she will continue working incredibly hard to get where she wants to go, and that dedication and work ethic inspires me.

Indigo

Indigo is joy. I don’t know how to describe her other than that. She literally oozes joy wherever she goes; I’m not being hyperbolic when I say it’s nearly impossible to not smile in Indigo’s presence. She sings everywhere she goes, and her voice sounds like an angel; Kyle was right when he gave her the award most likely to sing in the shower and not annoy anyone. Indigo has passion for musical theatre, for bringing joy to the world, and for life. It was amazing to observe her constantly positive attitude; no matter what had happened that day, Indigo would pop in the shower and sing her heart out, and the spirits of the entire room were lifted. She taught me how to bring joy to those around me, and most importantly, she taught me what it looks like when you’re truly in love with what you do. I aspire to love what I do as much as Indigo loves singing, and to do as much good as she does through it.

Taylor

Taylor taught me how to get rid of my discomfort, and as someone who is uncomfortable a lot, I am eternally grateful. Any time there was a lull in conversation, or just quite frankly a really awkward conversation arose, Taylor was there with a hilarious remark or an “Anyways…”. She was never afraid to admit that a situation was awkward, and would always laugh it off or pull me to the side to get out of it. And she wasn’t just funny when things got weird; she was positively hilarious 100% of the time. I believe the quote of the trip comes from when Ryal was flexing and Taylor blurted out “is that the statue of David?!” It’s not just her comments, but her comedic timing, her inflection, her facial expressions; Taylor can have everyone on the floor clutching at their sides within seconds. I loved Taylor’s jokes, her honesty, and her willingness to be open. She inspired me to admit when I was uncomfortable and maybe even find a joke out of it. I’m so glad to have found a friend in Taylor, because she truly is a genuine, sweet, comedic genius and I miss her already.

Ryal

Ahhh, Ryal Reddick. Did someone say high school hero? No? Must’ve been the connotation subconsciously attached to his name. No, but all jokes aside, Ryal might just be one of the best friends I’ve ever found, which was definitely one of the biggest surprises that came out of CR. Sure, I may make fun of him a lot, but that’s just because I’m mean. He inspires me in how much and how deeply he cares for everyone around him. Anytime someone found themselves having an off day, or struggling with something, Ryal was there for them, walking alongside them and helping them find the path to get better. I had my fair share of bad days and he was never impatient; instead, he listened and did his best to tell me what I needed to hear. He truly was Superman on our experience, always being everywhere and taking care of everyone who needed it, and I appreciate it so much. I learned from him how to put others before myself and watched in admiration for his love of all those around him and his need to protect them at all costs. I never expected to come out of CR with Ryal Reddick as one of my role models, but then again I never expected half of what happened on CR to happen. So here we are.

Jacob

Jacob (triple J) is one of the kindest people I know, and watching him interact with everyone was truly a great. He has admirably strong faith and is willing to have an open discussion about it with anyone and he is very comfortable with where he is in his faith and his life. He is not afraid to ask questions that may not go over well or to question aspects of his own life when valid points are made; overall, he remained an open-minded person for the duration of CR. He didn’t know nearly anyone coming in, but his infectious charisma and genuine kindness made him somewhat automatically grow very close to nearly everyone. He cared about everyone on the experience and it showed through his actions and words. I was inspired by his openness, rawness, and overall kindness.

Jake

Sorry, I meant Mr. Lynn*. Mr. Lynn is absolutely one of a kind. He is the man who makes sure everyone is having fun at every event while also being the life of the party, he is the guy who will ask you the most serious question about life very lightly on the way to dinner and then stare you down with his icicle blue dagger eyes, he is simultaneously a dad and in love with Dr. P. He is so constantly happy, and seeing his smile makes it almost impossible to smile back. Mr. Lynn taught me how to balance fun and serious, joking and thought-provoking. He was always down to do whatever spontaneous activity whenever, be it laying in his boxers in the park or buying Amplemann socks, and he was always practically giggling as he did so. But he was also not afraid to ask questions that other people might not, and he would always find a way to get people outside their comfort zone (in a good way). Jake brought so much happiness and so much discussion to the experience, and I’m so glad I could learn from his kindness.

Marat

Marat taught me how to be a true and genuine friend, and I am incredibly grateful. He was often a silent observer, but it was never without reason; he was always looking out for everyone and making sure they were okay. There were several instances in which Marat noticed that I was not having a great day, or that I was thrown off, and he would quietly pull me aside and make sure I was alright. Marat would keep an eye on the men in the streets of Italy to ensure all of our safety, and he pulled me out of the way of moving cars many times. He was a listening ear when I needed one many times and I rarely heard him complain. I aspire to be as true and genuine a friend as Marat.

Nishu

Nishu is a DJ, a doctor, and a great friend rolled into one. He has an infectious laugh, an amazing music taste, and a caring heart. Nishu would thrive every day on 3 hours of sleep and I rarely heard him complain about it. Instead, he’d use the time to work on his music, or journal, or blog, or shower, or do anything productive. Nishu was an expert on not wasting the day; I was getting 7 hours of sleep a night and I was exhausted, he was getting half that and he still managed to produce music. But Nishu is more than a machine; he has an incredible, infectious laugh that makes everyone in the room stare incredulously, and he has a kind and caring heart. I learned so much from Nishu, and I’m so excited for how much more he can teach me.

Kyle

Kyle, or as I prefer to call him, Lentil, is my brother who I was tragically separated at birth from and no one can convince me otherwise. Kyle learned how to push my buttons on this experience; both emotionally and physically. Whether it was calling me “Gail” or getting into elbow fights in the streets of Rome, I found myself resorting to my old sibling rivalry tactics to attempt to win our apparent battle. But Kyle (Lentil) didn’t just push my buttons on a sibling level; he also asked me questions I was in no way prepared to answer. We would be walking down the street, and all of a sudden he would ask one of the most difficult, personal, thought-provoking questions ever, and I would find myself learning more about myself as I answered him. He would always listen carefully and comment and thank me for being so open, and then if there was an awkward lull he would go right back to elbowing me in the side. I admire his deep-thinking, his vulnerability, and his observational skills. Most of all, I’m glad I found out that I have a brother at college.

These 15 strangers lifted me up and helped me through things, be it an emotional breakdown or physically canyoning through the Swiss Alps. What’s truly amazing is they didn’t know they were teaching me these amazing lessons as they did it; they just carried on as they normally would and I learned from the incredible ways they lead their lives. I am proud to call them my best friends and I love them all so much.

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot,” -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

These people gave me so many wonderful things, and confidence may just be the top one. I owe them my whole heart and soul.

Thank you all for the wonderful impact you have had on my life. I will cherish CR10 forever.

24/31 hours

June 8 11:00 pm was vastly different than June 9 11:00 pm.  June 8, we were walking from our last meal all together (the last supper you might say) and June 9 I sat in my bed sleep deprived and missing my familia.  I’ll give you a rundown of those 24 hours (31 if you count the time change).

piggy

At roughly 11:00 that last night, Ryal was giving Marat a piggyback ride to Giulitti’s and all of us were sentimental (#senti) and reminiscing on our time together.  Our last Giulitti’s did not disappoint and we soon found ourselves at the Trevi Fountain.  In classic CR fashion we took endless amounts of pictures then ended up sitting in silence, having yet another deep conversation, singing Stand By Me, busting out dance moves, and laughing at stupid jokes/Monty Python quotes/Vine references.  I felt so much at peace that I just looked around at everyone (sorry if I creeped anyone out by staring) and starting thinking about how close we’d all grown in a mere 3.5 weeks.

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We made the trek back to the hotel and by then it was around 2 am.  Brooke and Indigo had to leave for the airport at 5:30 am, so naturally, a couple of us decided to pull an all-nighter—with only a few hours of CR left, we wanted to squeeze as many memories in as possible.  Some went to bed around 4, but Indigo pulled a bold move and slept on the floor while those strong/delusional enough to stay awake danced around her head to Footloose and various Frog Camp songs.  The time went by surprisingly quickly with card games & back massages, and the next thing we knew, the sun had risen (and the Son has risen am I right?).  We walked Brooke and Indigo downstairs and said the first goodbyes of CR.  It was hard to believe I wouldn’t see them until August, and to be honest I’m still in denial about it.  Soon enough we said our farewells to the second batch of leavers Emma, Olivia, OC, Audrey, Kyle, and Ryal.  It was weird to be separating from people I’d grown so close to, and I trudged back up the stairs to reluctantly pack.  After I’d shoved everything into my oversize suitcase that had been lugged across 3 countries, Lauren, Marat, Taylor, Nishu, Jake, and I grabbed some breakfast.  It was a strangely silent breakfast due to the mixture of lack of sleep and an overload of emotions.  We grabbed our suitcases and the time came for me to say bye.  Weirdly enough, the song Time to Say Goodbye that had been played by all the street performers in Florence popped into my head and the feels began.  Lauren and I were waiting on the small and questionably secure elevator, and I just had to hug her and fight back tears.  We gave our final hugs and got in the van that would take us to the airport—the moment Lauren and I sat in the van, the tears came back full force and it actually hit me that CR was coming to a close.  Something I had looked forward to since December 17 was ending, and I didn’t want to accept it.

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Once we got to the airport, we parted ways, and for the first time in 3.5 weeks I was truly alone.  After going through excessive amounts of lines and security, I made it to my gate and onto the plane.  I found it weird being surrounded by so many Americans, and I started to realize how annoyed the Europeans probably were by us…we weren’t exactly a quiet bunch and probably disturbed a number of dinners and peaceful walks.  Too late to fix that now, but now I am more conscious of my noise level.  Nothing can dim the volume of my obnoxious laugh though, much to my chagrin.

On the ginormous plane, I was seated next to an angsty tween boy who avoided eye contact with me and didn’t smell too pleasant for 9 hours, and I spent most of it trying to process CR.  I landed in Charlotte and Facetimed my mom and drank enough coffee to make my body shake.  I figured if I hadn’t slept at this point I might as well tough it out until that night so I could try to keep the jet lag to a minimum.  After my final flight, I arrived in Memphis with bloodshot eyes, but was excited to see my family.  The Harano’s were waiting for me holding a neon pink welcome home sign, and we grabbed my bag and trekked into the muggy Memphis heat.  Man, I thought Rome was hot, but Memphis wins the humidity.  We chomped up some dinner and while they peppered me with questions, I had few answers because I still couldn’t articulate how amazing Cultural Routes had been.  How can you go into detail about how much you’ve grown as a person by learning more about your peers and the world when someone is asking you how skydiving felt?  They soon realized how exhausted I was and I fell into my greatly-missed bed and into a deeeeeep sleep.

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It was one of the most exhausting days of my life but I have 0 regrets about staying up with my familia to pack in as many mems as possible.  It’s been weird and borderline dreary being so far away from everyone, but I know that when we get back to campus we’ll all jump right back into our same conversations and laughs.  I had the best 3.5 weeks of my life on CR, and I cant wait to see how it impacted everyone else.

Veni. Vidi. Vici

Rome. A city rebuilt upon itself. Layer upon layer of ancient history, stacked on top of more ancient ruins. Not to be too stereotypically Italian, but it really is like a homemade lasagna with its layers of pasta, ricotta, and sauce, layered again and again over hundreds of years. Walking through Rome, it is so easy to just stumble upon old ruins. What I found to be most interesting was that some of those ruins didn’t even have a plaque explaining its significance. It is simply an uncovered piece of history laying between a few contemporary buildings. Its beauty was almost too much to comprehend. On our final day in Rome, my small group stopped to take a look around a church. On our walk back, Brittany said to me, “I love how we are just taking a casual stroll by the Colosseum.” She was so right! It almost becomes too easy to take all of this majestic history for granted after all that we have seen and done in the last 3.5 weeks.

As our time in Rome comes to a close, I realize how much I will miss this city. I will miss strolling through the ancient Forum where an entire civilization used to “hang”. I will miss making wishes in the Trevi Fountain. I will miss learning so much within the walls of Vatican City. I will miss standing outside Russell Crowe’s hotel, waiting for a gladiator sighting. But most importantly, I will miss our evening walks past the Pantheon headed straight for Giolitti’s.

More than missing Rome and the gelato, I will miss Europe as a whole. Traveling has allowed me to examine the American culture from a distance. I found plenty of differences between our culture versus the Europeans, some negative and some positive. One thing I certainly appreciate about the Europeans, especially Italians, is the way they take a nice long time to sit and enjoy their dinner. So often in America, we barely sit down to scarf down our food before we run off to our next task. Forget having time to converse with family or friends. The dinners of CR were one of my favorite parts of the day. They would often linger on for 2-3 hours. During this time, we would share with each other every aspect of our day and the interesting things we learned about the city and ourselves. I think Americans could learn a great lesson on the tradition of coming together at the end of the day and having great conversations over a meal.

But what I will miss most is not spending every waking minute with the CR familia. I could probably write an entire blog post over each individual on CR and how they impacted my experience and how much their friendship means to me. Writing this blog now, I am suddenly aware of how close we have all become. We could laugh, cry, or make the silliest jokes, all with full confidence that another person would be right there in the moment with us. While CR has come to a close, I am so eager to see what the future holds for CR10. But what is most exciting is that we still have three years together to strengthen our relationships and build on top of what we have started.

CR10… We came. We saw. We conquered.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

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Art in Italy

Coming into Italy, I was incredibly excited. Not that Germany and Switzerland weren’t amazing because they surpassed my every expectation, but I had been anticipating Italy for the longest time because of what I was taught in high school. I took latin all throughout high school and had learned about the culture and the Roman customs, heres and Gods. I couldn’t wait to step off the train and geek out to the incredible nation of Italy. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the incredible art from the Renaissance that defined Italy. 

First off the was the Uffizi Gallery, home of the most famous renaissance pieces owned and endorsed by the Medici family. First of all, these museum is huge, we spent about 2 hours in here and still only scratched the surface. Renaissance geniuses like Botticelli and Caravaggio were showcased all throughout this palace. The Birth of Venus is absolutely striking to behold firsthand. The attention to detail and the incredible portrayal of of the goddess of love served to be a standard of beauty after its crew ion. This only goes to show the influence that these artists had on the public at the time. The most striking piece to me, however was Caravaggio’s Medusa, a grotesque and intricately detailed painting on a shield that seems to take you by the eyes and won’t let you go. Very reminiscent of the ancient legends that staring into Medusa’s eyes will turn you to stone. Caravaggio was able to portray this feeling simply with paint. 

We then visited the famous David by Michelangelo. Even though this complete marble statue does attract fame and tourists from all over, let me tell you it is not overhyped. This towering colossus immediately takes your eyes as you turn the corner to see its majesty. The defined muscles and veins capture you and make you question how it is possible to define such features out of a solid block of marble. I can’t comprehend how Michelangelo was able to accomplish this but according to him he isn’t creating these magnificent statues, he is simply liberating these figures out of the marble to achieve their true form. It’s absolutely breathtaking. 

After enjoying the beauty of Florence, we traveled to Rome: a place just waiting for its magnificence to be explored. We went to the Vatican and were absolutely floored. There was incredible in every corner you searched. From the intricate murals on the ceilings of mere corridors, to the genius of Raphael, you can’t walk 30 seconds without your jaw dropping. In the museum of the Vatican, besides the 3 Salvador Dali paintings hanging in a secluded part of the chambers, my favorite piece by far was Raphael’s School of Athens. The masterpiece done by the genius at the time who was the same age as us, if not younger is incredible. Words cannot do this piece justice. I was most struck by the commentary he included in his painting: by painting this piece that portrays the pursuit of knowledge and dedicating it to the Vatican, he was saying that it is the Catholic Church who controlled knowledge and owned it. This in fact was true at the time because the Catholic Church tried to hide the fact the the world was round and that the universe revolved around it. The fact that Raphael was able to get away with this through his art is absolutely incredible. 

These are only a few of the pieces that struck me so powerfully in Italy. There is so much more beauty that I would love to go back and delve into even deeper than I had. I hope you get the chance to see these magnificent pieces firsthand at some point in your life. 

Sincerely, 

Nishanth Sadagopan

The Walking In Between

One of my favorite parts of CR is the walking. And let me tell ya, we walked a lot. I had the most stirring conversations, eye opening realizations, and Lauren-style “wow” moments during our walks between destinations. It is so special to see the cities from a pedestrian point of view because we started to know our way around (huge step for a directionally challenged gal like me) and we truly saw the city’s culture rather than just the tourist spots. The musical genius Ben Rector (who came to TCU last fall!!) sings “life is not the mountain tops / it’s the walking in between / and I like you walking next to me”. You can bet your Patagonia Micro-D Fleece I liked these goobers walking next to me. CR10 certainly visited the mountain tops in Interlaken, but we also had in between moments on travel days (RIP night train) and our 204.4 miles of walking according to the iPhone health app.

It’s crazy thinking about everywhere my shoes have been in 3.5 weeks—they have accumulated dust, rocks, dirt, rain, and snow from all across Europe and now they get to go back to the states and continue on to new adventures. All 16 of our shoes will go on to different cities and different experiences but they’ll carry the memories of CR from Kansas to Illinois. We would joke about having rocks in our Stocks and Chacs (Birkenstocks and Chacos, AKA the official unofficial sponsors of CR), but I would gladly undergo the agony of having a foreign rock shard in my foot if it meant I got to walk across Europe again with the familia.

I am a highly nostalgic individual, so all throughout CR I took videos of us walking around with historic architecture rising above our heads. I’m planning on making a video compilation just to be even more nostalgic and make myself cry some more. It’s fun seeing who is talking to each other in these videos—in every single one, we are branching out and making more connections with each other. We were pushed to connect with people we weren’t as comfortable with coming into CR, and you can tell in the videos that we were making the effort to get to know each other by making use of the time we had while exploring cities with each other.

Taylor and I walked back from dinners together a lot. We find a lot of similar things funny which is startling because usually nobody else thinks lame things are funny like I do. Taylor is world renowned for her story telling and facial expressions. You can’t talk to her and not walk away with a cramp in your side from laughing so hard. I love how she perfectly captures every emotion possible in her hilarious facial expressions, and you can’t help but mimic them when you’re with her. One time at dinner, Dr. P asked some of us who were sitting near him who had surprised us most on CR. Two of us said Taylor because she has such an explosive and magnetic personality that has shone so much on CR. If you’re reading this Taylor, you’re a superstar.

We got to see mimes on two occasions, and they have an uncanny ability to see a person and in an instant copy their walk. I started trying to do this with people in my groups because it is a fun challenge to analyze someone and how they carry themselves. It tells you so much about a person by simply seeing how they walk. For example, Audrey walks with such elegance and upright grace, Lauren has the happiest, bounciest walk I’ve ever seen, Abby walks with equal parts humility and curiosity, and Indigo leads with her heart as her eyes take in everything around her. I would find myself in the back of the group to watch everyone walking and laughing (creepy, I know) and think about how long the next 2 months will be without them and their quirks. I’ll save my gross nostalgia and feels for another post, but I encourage all of you to take every moment, especially the in-between, transition times to make meaningful connections with whoever is near. I guarantee you’ll learn something new about them as you both get closer and closer to your destinations.

Roma Familia

As I’m boarding my final plane ride home, everything is starting to hit me. I’m not going to see our familia tomorrow, next week, or even next month. After reading Olivia Wales’ blog post, I started tearing up, and I’m sure some people were giving me looks in the airport, but I’m gonna miss our familia so much! No rivers nor roads will separate us, because love will bring us together forever.

Rome was the perfect ending to CR10. In a city rich with ancient history, art and culture, we got to experience it together. And our game of Whai Whai truly brought it all together for me.

On our last team day in Rome, we had some senti moments, one of which was a conversation between me and Ryal. Ryal is one of the most loving, relational people I know. I also respect him so much and value his insanely high emotional intelligence. In this conversation, we asked each other for constructive criticism, and if that doesn’t show love and trust, I don’t know what does.

Our game of Whai Whai truly tested if we were able to trust each other and work together as a cohesive team. I can confidently say CR10 is the dream team. After 3.5 weeks of doing life together constantly (literally together all the time), we know each others’ ins and outs, strengths and weaknesses, and highs and lows. Each of us has an integral role in each others’ lives.

Each Whai Whai team was completely randomly selected, and each team collaborated so well! For example, on our Whai Whai team, the BlueBerry Bunnies, Jake was our navigator, Abby set an incredibly fast pace, Indigo kept the morale super high, Taylor kept communication with Dr. P, and I asked locals for directions. None of this was pre-assigned, it’s just what happened because we trusted each other and knew each others’ strengths.

In Rome, our CR10 seemed so close, and everyone got a chance to showcase their talents: culinary, navigational, motivational, artistic, humorous, interpersonal skills and more. We experienced so many different occasions together that let our strengths shine through: from our cooking class allowing Brooke to show her bomb pasta making skills to our tour of the Vatican Museum showcasing OC’s incredible knowledge and love for art!

And at our final dinner, we got to give awards to each other, sharing words of affirmation and our love for one another. Our team has come so far, and I could not be more thankful for each and every incredible part of the familia.

Rome was amazing because each part of CR10 is amazing. We are committed to being all-in for one another 24/7 and that will never change!