Writing this blog post feels tremendously surreal because I would have never guessed that I would be one of the few individuals that was offered the life changing experience of Cultural Routes. I cannot believe that I will be boarding a plane from Dallas to Berlin in ninety-nine days and exploring Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. I do not know how to express how incredibly grateful I am.
To be completely honest, when the application came out for Cultural Routes, I did not know much about what it was, what kind of people were chosen, or the reputation that it had. At first, I decided that I was not going to apply because actually going on the trip seemed unattainable. I realized later that if I did not apply, I would always be wondering about what could have been in one way or another. Once I began asking around about details of the trip and researching (and even reading other CR blogs), I realized that Cultural Routes was exactly what I had always wanted. I knew that with my major, I could not realistically study abroad for an entire semester, so a summer study abroad was exactly what I needed. I also really liked the idea of an honors study abroad because I knew I would be surrounded by people similar to myself in character and desire to learn.
After I submitted my application, I began to research details about the culture, history, and art of Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. I realized that I needed to explore each of these countries at some point—even if I was not chosen to go on the trip. The place that I am most excited to explore is Italy, and in Italy, the city of Florence. I cannot wait to be surrounded by an enormous amount of pasta and beautiful artwork. One of my passions is art, and I have been told that in Florence, art is everywhere. If I had to choose, I think I am most excited to see The Statue of David because those who have seen the statue in person claim that it is absolutely amazing. I’m not completely sure what to expect of the people (due to the fact that I have never been to Europe), but I cannot wait to be wholly immersed in the culture and lives of people who have experienced life in an entirely different way than I have.
I expect Cultural Routes to be one of the most challenging experiences that I will experience in my lifetime. Overall, I will have to completely disregard my comfort zone and become okay with the idea of being uncomfortable. Physically, the great amount of walking and small amount of sleep will be extremely challenging for me. I also believe that CR will challenge me culturally because, as I have spent almost all of my life in the U.S., I am not totally sure what to expect. Furthermore, I consider myself an introvert, so the constant social aspect of CR may be difficult for me. In the end, I am excited to embrace these challenges because I know that they will aid in my growth as a person.
All in all, I am both excited and nervous to step off of the plane in Germany and begin this journey. I am nervous about being so far from home and about abandoning my boundaries, but I know that my experience will be completely worth the sacrifices that I will have to make. I am excited to grow, learn, and explore Europe with a group made up of so many amazing people. At this point in time, my excitement completely outweighs how nervous I am.