I don’t wear jean jackets anymore, but I’m still this pumped for Europe

I’ve grown up around Cultural Routes. And yes, that’s the easy answer to the question, “Why did you apply for CR?”, but it’s also a lot more than that. I grew up listening to stories about the night train and gelato, and of course hearing about the crazy and unique adventures that each trip had did impact my decision, but that wasn’t really the biggest factor. When I say I’ve grown up around Cultural Routes, what I really mean is that I grew up around the people that have gone on it. A lot of those people are amazing people that taught me so much about life and what kind of person I want to be throughout college, but they also constantly reminded me that as much as I might have understood what Cultural Routes was and what it meant to the people who went on it, I couldn’t really “get it” unless I’d gone on the trip myself. And for seven of the eight past trips that didn’t really matter, because I definitely, totally, undoubtedly was NOT coming to TCU. But then by the time the eighth trip was getting ready to begin, I was in the middle of accepting the fact that TCU was actually the right school for me, and that I’d be joining the Class of 2020. At that point, Cultural Routes became an option for for the first time, and I began talking to my older friends who had gone on the trip, and after a lot of deliberation eventually decided it couldn’t hurt to at least apply. And now here we are.

I’m definitely most excited to visit Italy. I love everything about the country, from its food to its art and its history. I love Baroque and Neoclassical period paintings more than any other, so I’m pumped to see a lot of those in the different Italian galleries we visit, especially because we’re even going to visit at least one gallery with a piece by my favorite artist, Caravaggio. Everyone should be prepared for me to freak out like a 13 year old girl meeting One Direction whenever I get to see it.

When it comes to what I’m most excited about, worried for, and expect to be challenged by with Cultural Routes, all three really boil down to the same thing: people. I love people, and I love getting to figure people out, the good and the bad. My favorite thing ever is learning what people have struggled with and how their experiences have changed them, for better and for worse. On this trip we will get to meet people from entirely different lifestyles and cultural backgrounds than us, and I really hope I get the chance to have real and genuine conversations with some of those people. Not to mention, I can’t wait to get to know other students on the trip. I know for a fact there are some incredible people going on CR 9, both from their reputations and from my personal experiences. But at the same time, I’m a little nervous to spend a month of 24/7 with people I really respect. I don’t want anyone to see me at my worst, even though I know that’s going to end up happening. And honestly, that’s probably going to be really good for me. I want to really grow in college, not just in the fun ways like late night adventures with my close friends, but also in the kind of ways that challenge me and sometimes might even make me want to collapse in a heap and give up trying. And I think this trip will do both of those things.

My featured image for this post is a picture of me in Berlin 9 years ago, the last time I visited Europe. I look at that picture and it makes me laugh, but also shows me how much I’ve changed since then. And even though Cultural Routes isn’t going to be 9 years long, I hope when it’s over I (and everybody else) will be able to look at the pictures we took and realize how much we have changed and grown both with each other and because of each other in our 25 days together.