Preface: My parents always tell me to “never say never”, and I always roll my eyes when they say this. No joke. However, being in college has truly taught me to never say never. In fact, right now I’m doing what I always said I would never do: writing a blog. On top of that, I’m writing a blog for Cultural Routes 9, which I also told myself I would never get. So, here’s to you, Mom and Dad. I’m done with saying “never” (maybe… hopefully…).
Well, here it is. The journey of CR9 has begun (even though we still have an entire semester between us and the trip), and it’s truly hard to believe. Last week, we had our first meeting together as CR9, and, needless to say, it got me extremely excited. Everything still seems so incredibly surreal. It’s crazy to think that in 99 days I will be exploring the city of Berlin, Germany with some of the most incredible individuals at TCU.
I first heard about Cultural Routes at the end of my senior year of high school. Earlier in the year when I visited TCU, I was able to meet Eli Reynolds and Luke Beasley, who were a part of CR8. I remember seeing Eli post on Facebook about their blog for the trip, and I thought that it was pretty awesome that they had the opportunity to travel abroad for school credit. That’s about all I knew about the program. I also remember seeing their pictures on Facebook, and I knew that this would be something I might want to look into when I got to TCU.
Fast forward a few months to the beginning of my freshman year at TCU. Through my transition into college life, I kept coming in contact with many Cultural Routes alumni. Every single person who I met who went on CR absolutely raved about their time abroad. Whether it be the sophomores who just experienced the journey or the seniors who were separated from their time abroad for a few years and everyone in between, every person had only glowing remarks about their time in Europe, and those conversations got me AMPED to apply for Cultural Routes. Every conversation left me in awe of all they did and learned.
One common theme that arose with every conversation was the community that was created with each group that went on CR. Every person talked about the relationships that he or she made with the 13 other students on the trip. As a relational person, I was enthralled with the idea of traveling abroad and making incredible friendships, while learning about myself and the world. Another common theme among the people who went on CR was the fact that every single person was absolutely stellar. These people were (and still are) campus leaders who make a difference at TCU, but they also cared about me and my transition into college. This community of students was so attractive to me, and I knew that I wanted to apply for Cultural Routes.
Looking forward to this trip of a lifetime, I am most excited to dive into Germany. I am hoping that Germany will serve as a reality check for myself. So often, we all find ourselves so caught up with ourselves. We make the world about us; we say “I need this” or “I want that” or “I wonder when I’ll be able to do this”, and the list goes on. I think that learning about the history of Germany, especially the rich, yet horrifying, history of World War II, will help me to realize the bigger world around me and that the world isn’t all about me. I think coming face-to-face with the stories that I have learned in school will prove to be incredibly beneficial in helping me look outside of my sphere. I am also excited to begin to understand the contrasting images of divided Berlin and current-day Berlin. I have always been fascinated by drawing connections between different things, whether it be reflecting on my journey through life or understanding historical concepts. While I am not a guru on the history of Berlin, I am anticipating learning from the growth and change that Berlin (and the rest of Germany) has experienced in the past half-century. I am excited to begin to understand the history of Germany and how that relates to the life of Will Beasley.
Honestly, I am not sure what to expect of Germany, besides expecting to eat lots of meat and dense foods. The only interaction I can really remember with German people was a time that my brother and I got yelled at by an older German man on a train (I definitely understood exactly what he was saying!)… I guess I have a tainted view of the German people: grumpy and unfriendly. Hopefully I will be proven wrong (currently crossing my fingers).
I know that Cultural Routes is going to challenge me. If you know anything about me, you know that I like sleep and that I don’t like coffee. So that’s a great combination (I’m being sarcastic), knowing that for 3.5 weeks I am going to lack sleep and going to be constantly moving. I know that CR is going to challenge my mental strength to stay positive, despite my physical and mental exhaustion. I also expect that I am going to be challenged relationally. I know that being with 15 other freshmen for an extended period of time will bring out the best and the worst in everyone. I believe my patience will be tested, but I hope that I will be quick to give grace to everyone on the trip. I am hoping that CR will challenge my thoughts on this world; I want to see how huge the world and its people really are, and I want to understand firsthand how I am similar to people who may live very differently from me.
Every time I think about Cultural Routes, my blood pressure rises and my throat swells up. It’s hard not to get excited about this “trip”. Excited is also an understatement. There’s so much to be excited for So I’ll list out a few reasons. This list is minuscule in comparison to the actual list of why I am excited/what I am excited for.
- I am ready to gain 15 best friends.
- I am ready to eat incredible food.
- I am ready to learn about myself and hopefully become more introspective.
- I am ready to hear the various opinions of others on the trip.
- I am ready to explore the beautiful world He created.
- I am ready to be challenged and get outside my comfort zone.
- I am ready to gain incredibly toned calves from all the walking we are going to do (lol).
- I am ready to see Lizzie McGuire perform in the Roman Colosseum. This is what dreams are made of, right?
- I am ready to gain knowledge that I could not gain elsewhere.
- I am ready to draw connections.
- I am ready to have my perspectives changed.
- I am ready to explore (and maybe even get lost).
- I am ready to have meaningful conversations.
There is also a lot that I am nervous about. I am nervous that I am going to try to force my growth. I have learned that you cannot force growth, but often I inevitably try to force my growth, and that never works out. I am nervous that I will not have the “revelations” or “breakthroughs” that my peers might have. I am also nervous that the time will go by way faster than I want. Even though the trip hasn’t even started (and won’t start for a few more months), I am already dreading the day that it will be over.
But, in the meantime, you can find me Facebook stalking pictures from past Cultural Routes trips.
Peace ‘n blessings,
P.S. I am excited to see what our tagline for CR9 is going to be…. My initial thoughts are “CR9, oh so fine.” But I’m open to other ideas.
P.P.S. Sorry for the length of this blog post. Maybe CR will also teach me to be more concise.