As a marketing major, the way things present themselves stands out a lot to me. From the second I heard about Cultural Routes, I noted its authenticity as an incredible program. The best programs, products, whatever it may be, speak for themselves. Though everyone who goes on Cultural Routes raves about it for years to come, the program and the name “Cultural Routes” speaks for itself. Considering I haven’t experienced it yet, I don’t find myself capable of describing it in a way that it likely deserves, but already, it has an aura around it that only the people who have gone on it seem to understand. As a CR9’er, I can see it from the outside, but I can tell that Cultural Routes is something way greater than any of my expectations. Even the way I found out that I would be spending a month in Europe – a video including the Brandenburg Gate above that led to my running across my house screaming – surpassed my expectations (considering those expectations were an email… they weren’t that hard to surpass but still).
Different aspects influenced my choice in addition to the program’s authenticity. One includes the CR alumni. As I started recognizing who had been on the trip, I was not surprised to discover that many of these people were leaders on campus making a difference and impacting our community. Two of my frog camp directors, some of the first TCU leaders I encountered, are CR alumni. As a freshman navigating her first semester of college, these were the people I wanted to learn from. Knowing they had all been on CR only further confirmed my choice that CR was something I would love to be a part of.
Regarding the countries we will be visiting and based off only my preconceived notions of them, Germany captures my interest the most. Growing up, I became a World War II and Cold War nerd largely in part because of my father’s invitations to watch movies about the two with him – Von Ryan’s Express is my personal favorite. From those movies, conversations would begin. I still remember my father explaining The Cold War and the Berlin Wall to me for the first time. The stories have fascinated me ever since. Germany interests me most because I will be able to see for myself the history and the present day culture that exists in light of the country’s past. Quite honestly, in thinking of how I personally will interact with the German culture, I imagine my interactions will differ based on the people and the environment. I’m not really sure if Germans are the type who will tell you local stories as you order a coffee or if they’re the kind of people who quickly take your order and move on with their day. I guess that’s why I’m going abroad right? To discover the people behind the culture and to interact with it myself rather than through the pages of a textbook.
Beyond interacting with different cultures and people, I expect challenges within my three weeks abroad. I see CR challenging my urge to always be in control. Here in the United States, I have always lived by my agenda and had a concrete idea of what is happening when and where I need to be at what time, especially living in a culture that promotes having your life put together at all times (or at least seeming like you do). I’ve been told you get lost on this trip, and while I’m excited to get lost while exploring the cities, getting lost while exploring who I am sounds even more excited.
Now, beyond my reasoning for going on CR and my thoughts about what will happen, my emotions find themselves in a frenzy of excitement. At our first CR9 dinner, Taven Sparks, CR6 alum, posed the question, “What are you guys thinking, CR9?” Honestly, every emotion ran through my mind in that moment. I basically had chills the entire half hour hearing alumni share their stories and memories. I’ve found myself saying that I’m excited, but I really don’t know exactly what it is that I’m excited for. I know that any expectation I have will be beyond surpassed, but even then, when I try to pin point what’s causing the butterflies, I return to the aura that surrounds Cultural Routes. I think what excites me most is that yes, people seem to come back amazed by the beauty of Europe, but their favorite memories always involve friendships and growth. Growing and creating life-long friendships while immersing myself in new cultures sounds like the best way to spend the first month of my summer. Within that excitement, there are definitely nerves which likely come from the unknown to be completely honest. While I often find myself asking friends, “Hey, do you ever get really excited for the rest of your life?” I also get nervous at times, and I think it’s because within both of those thoughts lies the unknown. Though I find myself both excited and nervous about the unknown of CR, I could not think of a better position to be in – anticipating the unexpected.
CR9, here I come!!!