Is second semester over yet?

Wow! After hearing how amazing CR is, I can’t believe its real and we’re actually going!

The first time I had ever heard of Cultural Routes was from Mackenzie Warren. It was nearing summer time and she posted on Facebook about how she was about to take this amazing trip that she would be blogging about. At the time, I knew relatively little, I was still caught up in the end of my senior year of high school. However, as the fall came, and I started getting settled into TCU, and meeting more people, it seemed that all the cool people I was meeting, and liked, had done CR. Mack raved about the trip, the friends she had met, and Dr. Pitcock. She said it was a life changing experience, and strongly encouraged me to apply. I chose CR because it seemed like an amazing opportunity to learn abroad, but also a chance to grow as an individual through a group of other like-minded people.

When I look at all of the places we will be traveling to this summer, I am most drawn to Berlin, which is the only city I’ve already been to. I went to Berlin before my freshman year of college with Frog Camp and it was certainly an experience I’ll never forget. However, there is so much depth and history in Berlin, that one visit was not enough. Everything we learned just triggered more questions, and I am really looking forward to the opportunity to get some of those answered as well as inspire new ones. My father is first generation American, the son of Polish, Jewish immigrants whose families were murdered in Europe not all that long ago. Berlin is at the center of historical events that forever changed the path of my family.

The first time I was in Berlin, I was amazed at how they have handled their history. The sheer number of monuments to the Jews, as well as many other minority groups who were targeted by the Nazi regime, is remarkable. My impression of the people was not one of pride and arrogance, but a sense of humility and humbleness. I am intrigued to see if my perceptions are similar the second time around, but I find myself believing they will be. In light of these perceptions, I think that all communication with the country and the people will be amicable and each person will walk away with new understanding. I also believe I have a unique perspective when it comes to the group. As a student of Teas Christian University, I am constantly surrounded by incredibly devout Christians. While I was raised in an interfaith home, one Jewish dad and one Christian mom, I possess the insight into the true destruction the Holocaust brought to families. I think that perspective will be unique in this group setting, and I look forward to sharing what I do know with my peers.

I think CR will challenge me personally and culturally. While I love to travel, most of my time as a kid was spent in the US. This gives me certain cultural biases that can be difficult to get rid of, but I will try my best. I want to soak up the different cultures and perspective with a clear purpose. I do not want to think of things other cultures do as wrong, but instead understand why it is they do it that way. Personally, I think I will be challenged in the group dynamic. I love talking to and being around people, but 24/7 for 3.5 weeks will certainly challenge my patience. When I am frustrated, I can become short with other people, however in this group of people, that will be incredibly unproductive. I am excited to see at the end of this, how these challenges have allowed me to grow.

I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am so excited to get to see so many amazing, beautiful, and culturally/historically rich places, while also with a group of people, many of which are good friends. I am excited to stretch my boundaries and put myself outside of my comfort zone with people I know will definitely have my back. At the same time, I am nervous that the group dynamic won’t play out favorably, I am nervous that I will not experience growth, and that I will pack the wrong things!

I am way more excited than I am nervous, but we still have a couple months till we leave!