Croissants and Camaraderie

A scream and a thud.  On a chilly Sunday morning in Memphis, Tennessee, a groggy Brittany opened her TCU email.  Expecting only a “TCU Announce” or parking information, I saw an email from Dr. Pitcock with the subject line “Honors Explorations”.  I immediately opened it, and honestly was expecting a rejection because I knew how many awesome people had applied.  The next thing I knew, I was reading an acceptance letter that declared “Welcome to the Familia”!  I immediately screamed in shock and my laptop thudded to the ground as I sat there in disbelief.  After I processed for a while that I would be travelling across Europe with my newest best friends, I ran downstairs to my parents’ room and strobed their lights shouting that I was part of CR10.  They were just as unbelieving as I was since I basically assured them I wouldn’t get in when I was asking/pleading to apply for CR.

I learned about Cultural Routes when I attended the information session for summer study abroad programs in October. As I heard Dr. P enthusiastically describing CR and the community, experiences, and breakthrough that go alongside it, I knew I needed to apply.  I basically applied on a whim and laid it all out in my application—for example, while the rest of my application responses were long and (hopefully) insightful, my answer for the question “What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last three years?” was simply, “I have recently come to the conclusion that waffles are far tastier than pancakes.”  I knew I had to show my true self in the application, and I am nothing without my love for breakfast foods.  I anticipate many breakfast foods to surpass my expectations when we are in Europe—croissants are already calling my name!

Besides the glorious, delectable food, I am excited for so many things on CR10.  The first thing that comes to mind is the fellowship and community—it’s not called a Familia for nothing!  From just the dinners and random meet-ups we’ve all shared together, I am surprised at how well our different personalities and identities complement each other.  I already know that each person has a purpose, and Dr. P chose us because he knew we would be a perfect team before some of us had ever met.  I cannot wait to go all-in with and for these people!  I am also eager to truly experience each destination.  While some people will hit the tourist spots and move on, I know we will be diving into the culture of each city, testing the waters and trying new things at each.  I hope to gain a newfound understanding and appreciation for cultures different than mine and be able to look past a city’s exterior and wonder about what makes it tick and how it came to evolve into what it is today.

I cannot wait to make the trek across the pond with my fellow CR10-ers and experience all Europe has to offer us!  If the dinner meetings are any indication of what those 4 weeks will be like, Europe needs to be preparing for us rather than us preparing for it!

Don’t Video and Drive (unless it’s for CR)

I would like to preface this by saying that I know texting and driving is bad, and I don’t recommend it. When your phone dings with an email from Dr. P after winter break though, you have to check it.

My phone dinged three hours into my drive back to Arkansas for winter break. An email was the last thing I was expecting after just finishing finals. So, I had to check. I was shocked to see that it was from Dr. P. My heart stopped. Again, I know texting and driving is bad, but I just had to. I had to check (sorry mom). I opened the email, read the instructions, screamed a lot in my car, and completely missed my exit.

And the next one, and the next as I was filming my video to send to Dr P. to accept immediately. As I pulled into my family’s favorite little Italian restaurant, I burst in yelling with excitement, and the whole restaurant celebrated with me. This was a tiny peek into the community I will be celebrating with in Italy with much better Italian food.

I applied for CR because of the places, and the relationships. Germany, Switzerland, and Italy will be amazing. This will be my first time in Europe and I don’t entirely know what to expect, but I know that these places carry rich historical and cultural importance that reverberates throughout the world. I cannot wait to adventure through them with my arms and heart wide open to embrace every experience to the fullest. I also applied for the people; I am looking forward to building relationships with each person in our group and with the people in Europe. I want to learn about their lifestyles, passions, and cultures.

I know that I am excited because the people who have been on CR can’t say enough about the impact these people, places, and experiences have had on their lives. Past CR students get this glow in their eyes when they talk about the trip that I want to have. From the moment I met several of these people, I knew that I wanted this experience as well. I wanted this aura of camaraderie, wisdom, and global awareness that all past CR students seem to carry with them.

So, I will do my best not to miss any trains (I hear this is a real concern and high possibility) while videoing, but no promises.

A Bouncy Ball of Excitement

To be honest, I am still pinching myself that I am soon to embark on this incredible journey that is Cultural Routes. I am currently trying to form coherent sentences that express the excitement. Every time, this is about as far as I get: AHHHHHHH, HOLY MOLY OH MY GOSH!!! Okay, but seriously, what an exciting adventure we are on! I’m thrilled to say that I don’t yet know what all to expect, and I joyfully anticipate each and every CR discovery from now on.

 I first heard about Cultural Routes during orientation in June of 2017, when my mom said to me, “Indigo, you should really consider applying to this summer program called Cultural Routes. Someone from the Honors College was talking about it, and he says he takes a small group of students backpacking through various European cities. It just sounds like you!” Upon asking her what this said man’s name was, she replied, “I’m not sure. I just know he’s bald and very passionate about his students. Please look into this.” I kept this blurb from my mom in the back of my mind, until one day during my first semester, my friend Lance told me about his experience with CR. The way his eyes lit up when he talked about his familia and his newfound perspective on the world and people around him sparked my imagination. Once the applications for summer programs opened, I knew I would apply, though I did not yet understand the depth of this experience. I, of course, was infatuated with the idea of traveling to Germany, Italy, and Switzerland and making a new group of pals. And who wouldn’t want to spend three and a half weeks exploring Europe with a passionate bald guy and a crew of TCU honors students?

I was sold.

Flash-forward to December 15th, 2017. I had just landed in Atlanta, home for the holidays! While on a train in the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, heading to baggage claim, I received an email from Dr. Ronald Pitcock (formerly known as the passionate bald guy), affirming my “CR10 Acceptance.” To say my heart began to spring about like a bouncy ball inside my chest–while not literal–is an understatement. My family probably expected to find me thrilled to see them when they picked me up outside of baggage claim (I of course was), but I don’t think they could have possibly anticipated (or prepared for) my level of enthusiasm at the time. I was exuberant, as were they when I finally was able to tell them what I had just discovered.

CR10 is rapidly approaching, and my heart still jumps with excitement when Dr. P emails us. Upon meeting my CR10 familia and listening to CR alumni share their stories–some bizarre, all very unique–and cultural experiences, I began to understand more of what CR is about. Dr. P has created a program that fosters personal growth in the areas of interpersonal relationships, cultural awareness, confidence, team-building, and so much more. I eagerly anticipate being thrown into unfamiliar places with the goal of learning from those around me–both my new familia and the locals–and gaining a deeper understanding of the world in which I live. I can say with sincerity (as I pinch myself again), I am so very honored to be a part of this team.

lost in community

February 17th, 2017. While visiting TCU, over purple potatoes and horned frog butter, Dr. Pitcock talked about an adventure from the past summer where he took students to Europe. Hearing a story of students taking the wrong train, I saw community and adventure. I had experienced students’ community on campus that weekend, and this story again rang true of students who deeply cared for each other and even traveled to Europe together. Enthralled by the explorations and adventure that awaited if I came to TCU, I chose TCU, and in the back of my head I thought I could potentially go on that trip as a cool study abroad option.

Fast forward to September 2017, a new freshman on campus, I learned community is something you have to work hard for and something that comes with time and vulnerability. I also learned that Cultural Routes was the experience I heard about at the dinner in February, and it was not just my choice of going, but a highly desired, selective experience that truly was not up to me to be a part of. Bummer. But I could still apply!

I did not think I was going to get to be a part of CR, so I kept that thought far away and truly wasn’t even thinking about it over Christmas break. But on a Sunday morning, I got a snapchat from a friend asking if I had heard anything about CR, I opened my email on my phone, and promptly stood up, started jumping and screaming and breathing quickly, definitely freaking my parents out. I couldn’t believe it, and I could not be more thankful to be a part of this group! Also, the hype video from the CR students before us, wow. I am so excited to get this opportunity!

Back home, I had an amazing community, filled with deep relationships where we all knew each other, grew each other, and stood by each other through the thick and thin. Community and deep relationships mean so much to me, which is one of the reasons I applied to CR. I also LOVE adventuring! Exploring new places, trying new recipes, and pushing the boundaries are things I love to do! CR encompasses all of these! With this, I really enjoy loving people well, especially people that are already my friends and that I share deep relationships with. I hope to become close friends with all the amazing people on CR. But with being good at loving my current friends deeply, I tend to fall short at starting deep, new relationships, especially when people seem to already have their lives and groups together.

Through CR, I hope to learn how to relate and better love people that are so different from me, learning how they want to be loved and how they do life best. I’m also so excited to explore Europe together and create life-long friendships! Every single person on CR is so beyond amazing, and they’re so cool! I’m so thankful we get to do life together! I hope to be lost in community with them. The kind of lost when you look at your friendship it may not make sense why you’re so close, but you just love each other so well because you respect them, see their beauty, and desire the best for them in everything.

Being all-in, 24/7 is the way I desire and strive to live everyday. So here’s to learning how to better be all-in, all the time together.

With love,

Lauren Rasmussen

Embracing Discomfort

There is something incredibly real and powerful about discomfort. People often say that the greatest opportunities in life only present themselves if you step outside of your comfort zone. After attending Texas Christian University for a semester and a half, I have learned firsthand that these words ring true in every aspect of life.

During the college application process my senior year of high school, I was truly terrified of what was to come. Uncertainty hung around my shoulders like an itchy blanket; I could not bring myself to relax and enjoy the process because I felt that college was an experience that was too frightening, too new for me to handle. Without my friends from my hometown and my family there to support me, how would I handle the challenges that I was certain would arise? I did not enjoy the process until I heard about TCU from my friend, Claire Carter, who suggested that I tour TCU. I am incredibly thankful that I heeded her advice; once I toured TCU, I was able to feel hopeful and excited about college for the first time. After applying, waiting, and praying, I eventually received life-changing news – TCU accepted my application. I was going to be a Horned Frog!

A very similar situation occurred that led me to discover Cultural Routes. I have always dreamed of studying abroad; the history, the culture, the experiences I heard about from those who had traveled drew me in. Much of my intrigue in Cultural Routes as an option for studying abroad also began with Claire; she traveled with CR after her freshman year and came back saying it was the most incredible experience she has ever had during her time with TCU. Seeing the pictures she took and hearing the stories she told convinced me that I should apply to Cultural Routes. Despite the fact that spending three and a half weeks in a foreign country with potentially nobody I knew made me nervous, I decided that it would be a learning opportunity and that I would go ahead and apply. Never did I once think I would actually be selected!

I received the acceptance email while I was at a dinner with my family and some family friends. Because their kids also are TCU students, I had to repress my excitement as best I could. I sneakily showed my parents the email once I could get them away from the rest of the group. We hugged and celebrated quietly and then slipped back into the conversation with everyone else like nothing happened. Once we got home, I spent some time in my room, reflecting about what this opportunity meant to me. Cultural Routes is the experience of a lifetime, and I thanked God for the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone in such an exciting and unique way.

Although I was initially terrified of making the leap from high school to college, once I began my journey and embraced the discomfort of stepping out into the world on my own, I began to thrive in my new environment. This past semester and a half has been one of the most fulfilling time periods in my life. Sure, making new friends and tackling the challenge of college courses has been difficult, but I have grown emotionally and spiritually throughout the experience. I am positive the same will occur with Cultural Routes. Am I a little nervous to travel across Europe for the first time with this group of intelligent, passionate, awe-inspiring people that I have so much to learn from? Absolutely. Does that mean I am not looking forward to it? Absolutely not. In fact, I am more excited and thankful for this opportunity than I ever have been with any other experience in my life. I cannot wait to embrace this discomfort with open arms. I am prepared to learn and to grow with the rest of CR10 as a student, as a leader, and as a person, and I cannot wait to grow closer in friendship to the rest of the group!

Throwing Everything at the Wall

All my life I’ve been told to throw everything that I have at the wall of life and see what sticks. I approached my application to CR the same way. I never actually thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be one of the few people actually journeying to places that I’ve dreamt of visiting my whole life.

I must confess, when I originally applied for this experience, I had no idea what it entailed. I was mostly excited for the opportunity to experience new cultures and different civilizations than what I am used to. I enjoy my comfort here in the United States very much and I like making sure events in my life are planned out with strict guidelines. But by applying to CR, I wanted to challenge myself to be more open to the possibility of venturing outside my comfort zone. So, with a tentative hand, I submitted my application.

I was laying in bed, enjoying the first few days of winter break when I had the urge to check my school email. I don’t know what prompted me to do so (probably my mind telling me I should be doing school work) but I am glad I did. There it was, the reply to my application. I opened it, already doubting my chances, and read the email. It took about 5 times of reading the email thoroughly to fully grasp what I read. To my absolute excitement, I had been chosen. My adrenaline pumped so hard that I could barely sleep that night. It took every ounce of me to contain my excitement when I told my family the next morning. I practically shouted at them that I would be traveling to Europe over the summer. Like I said, I was mostly excited to traverse through foreign countries, to eat delicious food, and to see the beautiful art. It wasn’t until later that I started meeting the people that I would be traveling with and I can now say simply traveling is not what I’m most excited for. It’s the people, these people that will push me out of my comfort zone. The Europe is only the conduit through which I will be challenged. I can’t wait to grow with my fellow familia members.

By throwing everything I had at the wall, I finally have an opportunity to experience the places of my dreams, and I have the opportunity to grow and dig deeper as an individual to find my identity in this global civilization. I can do this through the strong bonds I will make with my familia who I know will push me to grow.

65 days!

I never could have imagined that I would be writing this blog post as a member of CR10. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to join fifteen amazing individuals and embark on the journey that is CR, together. In just 65 days, this amazing experience will begin!!

I remember the first time that I heard about CR. During the Frogs First program my first week at TCU, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have dinner at Dr. Pitcock’s house. He briefly described how he takes a small group of students abroad, and there were CR alum there as well who mentioned how their month abroad truly changed their lives and their TCU experience. I knew that I had to learn more about what CR was all about. I went home, looked at the past CR blogs, and was floored at how amazing each journey looked. I knew that I had to apply! However, only a handful of students were selected, so I knew not to get my hopes up because the odds didn’t look to be in my favor. For winter break, I drove eight hours home back to Kansas City and the exact moment I pulled into the garage, I pulled out my phone and saw the words “CR 10: Welcome to the Familia.” To say I was excited would be the understatement of the century.

Although the countries and cities we will be visiting are absolutely incredible, that’s not necessarily what initially drew me to CR. What caught my eye was the community that surrounded CR: the Familia. The relationships and connections that are built on CR simply cannot be replicated. I also was intrigued when seeing how much people grew personally on the trip as well.

Out of all the places we are going to travel, I am probably most excited for Germany. For 19 years, I have heard stories from my grandmother, who grew up in a small town about 3 hours outside of Munich. She has told me tales of war and the incredible experiences she had in Germany. My grandmother is now 88 and is unable to travel so I am excited to experience her home country and be able to tell her all about it!

Throughout this experience, I expect to be challenged and pushed in ways that I never have been before; mentally, emotionally, and physically. But what I’m most excited for is discovering Europe with the most amazing people you will ever meet and individuals who will push me to be the best possible version of myself. I could not be more excited to be all in for CR!

Europe better get ready, because in just 65 days, 94,726 minutes (not like I’m counting), CR10 is taking over!!