The Walking in Between

“Life is not the mountaintops, it’s the walking in between.”

A quote by one of my favorite artists, Ben Rector, which describes a physical picture of Interlaken, as well as what I want to gain from my time there.

Interlaken means “between lakes”, because of its positioning between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. It is surrounded by the beautiful Bernese Oberland, turquoise waters, and a spirit of adventure facilitated by the extreme sports offered. Kate McDonald talked about the large amount of time spent outside in Interlaken amidst the beauty that cannot be fully captured with a camera. She also told me about the opportunities for thrilling adventure with canyoning, skydiving, hiking, and paragliding. Almost every person I ask about Interlaken immediately responds with, “you’re going to LOVE it!!!” I’m not exactly sure why, but because of that, Interlaken is the place I am most excited to experience.

I am always looking for a new adventure, whether it’s a late night run to Whataburger, a last minute decision to drive to Baylor to hear Bob Goff speak, or a ride on the front of a white water raft at frog camp (before being thrown into the icy water). So, initially, I focused solely on Interlaken’s spirit of adventure and the thrilling opportunities I would have there. However, I want to challenge myself to focus on more than just the adventures in Interlaken. I want to make the most of the walking in between in this town between two lakes because life is more than the most exciting moments.

We will arrive in Interlaken in the middle of CR. I don’t want to get caught up in only living for the big moments of CR such as paragliding, the Colosseum, the leaning tower of Pisa, and Dachau, to name a few. While these are huge mountaintops I am excited for, I want to make the most of the small things as well. The small conversations on trains, laughs shared by the group, and even the hard moments where we need each other as support. Life is more than just the big moments; one word of encouragement, a beautiful sunrise, or a thought-provoking conversation can stay with someone forever.

Kate also mentioned that Interlaken was a good time to rest and bond between the heaviness of Germany’s history and the grand finale in Italy. In Interlaken, I hope to see the mountaintops of life (literally and figuratively), but also capture every moment in between and use it for growth.


The Lynchpin

Berlin is more than simply a city, I would argue that it is the focal point of our world today. When examining modern history, that being the late 19th century to the present day, Berlin has been in the thick of it all. World War I. World War II. The Cold War. These are the events that shape our present world. If one isn’t able to fully understand those events, then they can not explain today’s climate. The most critical of these in my opinion is the least understood, World War I. For example, I don’t believe very many people know that Germany and their leadership released and smuggled a certain political prisoner into the Russian Empire in order to destabilize their enemy. That prisoner was the one and only Vladimir Lenin. That one decision changed the future of our world…

Interesting stuff to be sure.

I am personally excited to venture to Berlin for the second time (shoutout Frog Camp) to help venture deeper into the wealth of history Berlin has to offer. In the words of Matt Williams, CR 10 Alum, based on its “geography, political history, religious background, and more, Berlin (and Germany as a whole) has become a spring of world history.” I consider myself a history buff, with my most recent fascination coming in the form of his Hardcore History podcast, having listened to nearly all 50 or so episodes ranging from the Persian Empire to Russian front of World War II. Heck, when I was in elementary school I read a 26 volume illustrated historical encyclopedia over World War II. The stuff fascinates me. For that reason I highly value the chance for round two in the city. During the first round of things I was able to see a lot of the sights, but was also fairly overwhelmed by all of the impending excitement for college and focused TCU programming that Frog Camp brings. I absolutely loved the city, but am ready for more and a true experience where I am able to explore without the structure and distraction.

Berlin is more than just history. I believe Matt put it best when he told me it was a “multifaceted city offers an abundance of culture to unpack and absorb” and I’m looking forward to the German culture, the trains, the Grunewald, and the Birkenstocks. Honestly on the culinary front I’m less looking forward to the German food —”beef” haunts me—and more looking forward to some Vapiano’s, which is probably the only advice I’ll give my group as we explore the city. I plan on enjoying the ride, taking in everyone else’s sense of discovery, and compounding it with my own as I delve deeper into the city, the history, and myself.

Onward Crecade.

-Ryal Reddick




Florence, “Florentia” – flowering


Before this week, I really had no idea what beauty Florence contained aside from the general grandeur of Italy. But Florence is the city where the Renaissance began, funded by the Medici family, alive with art, architecture, churches, and tourism.

Originally named “Fluentia” for being between two rivers, Florence was later named “Florentia” meaning “flowering.” And wow, Florence sure blooms!

Some CR9 Familia took the time to share some memories of Florence with me, and the art, history, and churches overwhelm, in the best way possible! I cannot wait to visit the Duomo, touching the exterior made of decorative pink, green, and white marble, embracing the architecture and art within the largest dome built in brick and mortar that took two centuries to create. And also, wow, there is a clock made by Paolo Uccello outside the Duomo that ends its 24th hour at sunset everyday without fail. I cannot wait to see that!

See the source image

As I was researching the names Jacey, Kendall, Andrea, and Sarah were telling me, I could not stop from being in awe at the sheer culture in Florence created by art. That is something so foreign. How is a whole city centered around art and churches? There is so much richness that I cannot wait to be immersed in with my amazing friends.

Here are some things I can’t wait to do (if we can find them):

  • Stand in the cute, colorful shops held up by stilts on the Ponte Vecchio
    • The only bridge to survive WWII
    • The first bridge built with less than semi circles underneath to support it
  • Analyze and learn from the collections within the Galleria dell’Accademia
    • The David!
  • Be in awe looking at the sculptures inside the Bargello
    • Including works by artists including Donatello, Giambologna and Michelangelo
  • Embrace the Boboli Gardens’ grandeur landscaped with sculptures!
    • I love nature!!
  • Haggle in the leather markets
    • Muster the courage and don’t back down, or just be bold like Sarah G.
  • See the Basilica of San Lorenzo, a church in the center of Florence’s main market district
    • What effect would a church in the middle of a market have? How is the church’s culture affected by the market?
  • Admire Dante’s Church and hopefully hear how Dante and Florence are super connected
    • I definitely have to look more into Dante before going!
    • Wear appropriate clothing covering shoulders and knees
  • Admire the frescoes in the Strozzi Chapel
    • They depict Paradise and Hell according to Dante’s schemes
  • Enjoy Edorado gelato made free from chemicals, GMOs, and colorings
    • Milk from pastured-raised cows and eggs from free-range chickens

See the source imageSee the source image

That’s a pretty long list, but Florence has so much to offer! With history spanning centuries, I cannot wait to be immersed in a city created by and for the arts. And by no means do I know a lot about art, but I can appreciate it, and I am so ready to embrace art, and embrace it with friends who are super passionate and know a lot about the art. My goal is to come to a better appreciation for art’s culture, beautifully-crafted churches, and beautifully-crafted people.

While we’re waiting, I looked at some past blogs, and Amorino, a gelato chain in Europe, was mentioned in some. After a little digging, I found the closest Amorino… a bonding trip to Fort Worth’s very own Amorino (2.2mi away from TCU!!) may be in store for the familia! Probably not as good as Europe’s gelato, but a great taste to prepare us for all the goodness in store!

Thanks for reading!

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen


Interlaken: Seeing the Natural World in a Different Way

Interlaken is perhaps the place I am most excited to visit on CR10. From mountains to a beautiful freshwater lake, it has everything a nature lover can enjoy. After speaking with some CR alums, I know that in Interlaken we will have a unique chance to explore God’s creation like we never have before, and rumor is we might be hang gliding or jumping from a plane to get a better view. Whatever it holds, I am so excited to visit here, as I find that through nature we can learn more about the world we live in, and we learn about who we are as people through how we interact with the natural world. I am ready to learn more about myself through learning about nature.

As a Biology major, I have had the unique opportunity to learn about plants in this second semester of my freshman year. My knowledge about plants is only very superficial, as it was just one unit in Introductory Biology II, but don’t doubt that I will be out there hiking in Interlaken trying to see angiosperms and gymnosperms, all types of mosses and ferns, and let’s not forget the aquatic plants! Honestly I should just bring out my textbook to help identify all those species of plants. All joking aside, I am really excited to take to the trails along the Swiss Alps and learn more about nature as I hike through one of the most beautiful places on earth. And on an even deeper level, I cannot wait to earn the highest of all achievements: a solid Chaco tan!

I’ve always found myself as one that connects to nature really well, and I have a unique passion for mountainous landscapes. My family has taken summer vacations to Colorado ever since I was young, so to me, the mountains bring back memories of love and happiness. I remember fishing with my dad and grandad for rainbow trout in the stream by our campsite, or rafting down the Rio Grande fishing for browns with the almighty Panther Martin lure on my line (I swear to you that lure catches anything that swims). I plan to tap into these emotions when we visit Interlaken, and hopefully I can find myself connecting deeper with the world, with my peers on the experience, and with myself. I know that Dr. Pitcock will push me and my fellow CR students to be the best versions of ourselves while on this experience, and I can’t wait to see what Interlaken has in store for us all while we face the challenges of CR and work to overcome them in this amazing place in Switzerland that pictures cannot fully encompass the beauty of. We will hopefully see nature differently, see each other differently, and see ourselves differently. I have nothing but high hopes for Interlaken.


CR –> CT (aka Cinque Terre)

Even though I have only lived in one city in my 19 years (2 if you count my TCU home), I’ve somehow found a way to contract an intense case of what I call the “travel bug”. In grade school, when we memorized the fifty states (and capitals too, of course), I quickly made it a goal to explore each and every one of them. As I got older, I comprised a more extensive bucket list including countries and cities I hoped to one day visit. Cinque Terre is one of them. I first came across this picturesque city on Pinterest under the title “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit.” Though in my opinion, “beautiful” is the understatement of the century. The city built on cliffs with colorful homes and beaches was quickly added to my bucket list. While CR and all of its adventures are crossing off several entries to my bucket list, Cinque Terre is an especially exciting one for me, even though I am certain I am butchering its pronunciation.

  • I am torn between;  CHEENK-way TEAR-ay or CHEEN-kway TEAR-ah

Meaning the Five Lands, Cinque Terre is comprised of five small villages; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Monterosso is known for its strips of beach and because of this, it is also known for having the most resorts out of all of the villages. Vernazza is the harbor city of Cinque Terre and is still looked at to be a traditional fishing town. Corniglia is located high up on a hilltop making it the only village not located on the water. Manarola contains more grapevines than any other village. Riomaggiore is the unofficial “capital” of Cinque Terre, being the largest. All of these villages contain historic, colorful buildings that are built into cliffs, creating an unusual and aesthetically pleasing landscape.
These villages each possess a unique vibe and language dialect, however they share one key thing; an element of seclusion. There are not many roads within Cinque Terre, making it unlike most typical tourist destinations that are stuffed to the brim with cars and massive groups of travelers. No one seems to be bustling from point A to point B, instead they seem to just enjoy the journey in this simple Italian city. While it is not as isolated as it once was, there is still an authentic feeling to the way of life here. Adding to this element of isolation is the fact that Cinque Terre is not easily accessible by car. Many travel blogs suggest leaving your car in La Spezia and walking or taking the train to travel between villages. When talking to CR alum Claire Carter, she told me this was her favorite stop on her CR journey. She told me how the element of seclusion emphasized the beauty of the city and detailed how they traveled by train. Claire also mentioned CR 8’s experience with the train strikes in Cinque Terre and members almost missing the only train to leave that day (again emphasizing the very real scenario of missing the train).
I am completely intrigued by this idea of spending time in stunning seclusion while unplugging from the hustle and bustle of our insanely busy daily lives. There seems to be a sense of tranquility in Cinque Terre that is not often seen today. I do wonder how they have be able to maintain this sort of serenity? While I understand it is not in complete privacy, there are vast differences between it and Rome, for example, or other more frequently visited tourist destinations.
Our visit to Cinque Terre occurs during the final third of Cultural Routes. While I’m wondering now what lies ahead for the CR10 Familia, I expect by the time we visit Cinque Terre we will all have grown in our own ways; together and individually. I am so looking forward to exploring the stunning city of Cinque Terre with some of the most amazing individuals I have ever met. So what I look forward to most about Cinque Terre and CR as a whole, is continuing to foster growth while crossing once-in-a-lifetime experiences off of my bucket list.

PS. Only 47 days!!

From Castles to Concentration Camps

All I remember from Munich is spaetzle, expensive bathrooms, and a glorious castle.  My family went on a grand European trip 2 years ago, and we spent the night in Munich after getting in late from a train—we went to a restaurant near our Airbnb where I was able to experience the heavenly blessing of spaetzle, a soft egg noodle side dish (it tastes far better than it sounds.  An alternate title for this post is “Munchin’ in München”).  As an American, the idea of paying to go to the bathroom is absurd, but the Germans are intellectuals and know they can charge for the inelastic good of public bathrooms.  We also visited Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the model for the castle in Disney’s Magic Kingdom—despite the rainy weather, the castle lived up to our magical expectations.  I have a twin brother, and one of our favorite hobbies is taking ridiculous pictures.  Pictured below is us in front of the magnificent castle for your viewing pleasure.  (Dear CR10, please take stupid pictures with me… even the infamous night train trip from Munich can be the perfect opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to look foolish and immortalize it forever?)

castle twins

On a more serious note, I have always been fascinated by World War II.  It has had a profound effect on our world, country, and my family since my grandfather and his family were interned in a Japanese American Internment Camp, Topaz.  Munich is a city rich in World War II history as it is the birthplace of the Nazi Party and near Dachau Concentration Camp. Dr. P encouraged us to watch the Netflix show “Hitler’s Circle of Evil”.  After watching the first episode, I realized I knew far less about World War II than I thought; our education system seems to focus more on what occurred during the war and how it ended, but I am highly interested in how it began and how we are still paying for it today.  I had no idea that Hitler was not the original leader of the Nazi Party.  When I asked Cole Harris about his experience in Munich on CR9, he said he could feel the history of the Nazi Party and sense the tension in the air, not to mention how impactful the visit to Dachau was.  I know that being in the actual location of the beginnings, cruelties, and repercussions of the Nazis will be eye-opening and will be so much more powerful than reading about it in school or watching documentaries.

I can’t wait to get to Munich and dive in—Cole told me to have an open mind, so I am hoping to be able to take in as much information as possible about the city’s history, culture, and people and ultimately be changed by everything I learn and experience.




munich cookie

It’s Not All Fun & Games

March 28, 2018 – As I sit in my dorm room, I try to evoke the emotions I have had over the last few months in regard to the Cultural Routes experience. Let me tell you, it has been one rollercoaster of emotions. The first week I stepped foot on campus, I met a few young men who had participated on CR9. Their description immediately sparked my interest in the trip, excuse me, experience.

Cultural Routes is everything for which I live. I believe that one of the greatest things that we as humans can do is explore the world around us, and that is exactly what CR does. There is so much to learn, so much to do, and so much to be discovered. Everything in this world can be talked about or taught in a classroom in some way or another, and I do greatly value the learning that occurs in the classroom setting. However, learning that occurs outside the classroom setting with experience stepping in as the professor is exponentially more powerful and memorable than what we learn inside the classroom. There is something about experiencing things for ourselves instead of merely learning about them that cements them in our brains for us to hold onto for a lifetime.

After researching more about the experience, my excitement grew. Ever since I took a trip to Italy with my high school choir the summer after my freshman year, I have been thoroughly enamored with travelling. We live in such a vast world, that contains a myriad of things to be learned and experiences to be had. Once I got a taste of the excitement and adventure of exploration and discovery, I couldn’t help but crave more of this experience.

As I made my way through the fall semester, I met more and more people who had been on the Cultural Routes experience. The people were quite a diverse group, yet I seemingly kept running into more and more people who had been on CR. The more people I met the more excited and nervous I became about the opportunity to apply for CR. Despite their diversity, there were some commonalities that I found among all the past CR members that I met: CR had a unique but distinct and powerful impact on every one of them, each of them is using what he/her learned abroad to influence the work they are doing at TCU, and last but not least, every single person that I met inspired me.

I am unmeasurably excited to go on CR because of the opportunity to grow, learn, and explore Europe with 17 other amazing individuals. I am certain that I will have the experience of a lifetime on this trip. I know that the experiences I have will lead me to not only discover more about the world around me but also more about myself and those with whom I am travelling. I know that CR will challenge me to grow in ways that I cannot yet imagine. I know that CR will be an experience that challenges me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Cultural Routes will be everything but easy. I will need to be ALL IN 24/7, if I want to gain the most out of my experience, so that I too can inspire the next generation of CR students.

Until next time,

Jake Lynn