CR and its legacy have been present in my life since the day I stepped on TCU’s campus. Flashback to day one of sorority recruitment where I end up talking to this girl about an amazing study abroad trip she went on. Turns out this trip is Cultural Routes and this girl is Sydney Galloway. Because of rush, Syd is now one of my best friends at TCU, and I got to spend the rest of the semester bugging her about said trip. Every time I would hear about CR and meet the people who had experienced it, I fell more in love with not only the trip itself, but also the ability it had to create an everlasting community of people who are now living out their full potentials with a joyful drive and encouraging grace. Coming into my freshman year at TCU, this is the person who I wanted to become. I looked up to the CR alums and began to truly believe in the power of the CR experience.

By the time the CR application opened I knew that this was something I wanted with my whole heart. I so craved the community and growth that this trip fosters, and of course dreamed of getting to spend a month experiencing the cultures of some of the most highly renowned cities in Europe. After submitting my application that I had everybody and their mom proofread, I spent a month in which I anticipated this decision date more than any of my college applications’. While I was trying to trust the process, I found myself literally counting down the days to December 20th (and then plus one to the 21st, thank you Biology I).

The feelings of thrill, gratitude, and expectation that I first experienced when I watched the acceptance video have still not left me. As I have been able to meet our group and hear from others about their CR experience, I have only become more thrilled, more grateful, and more expectant. I am beyond excited to develop deep relationships with each person on CR9, as I know we each have unique passions, strengths, and stories of trials and success. I also still cannot believe that I get the honor of being connected with all the people on my CR and the trips that have gone before us. On the other hand, I am more nervous now than I was a few months ago. After hearing so much about how this experience changes your life, I am nervous-excited to see in which way this will happen to me, especially because I feel like one of the ways I will grow the most in Europe is by being pushed out of my comfort zone and into situations where I have far less control than I prefer. I know I am going to have to be spontaneous and say yes to adventures that I would normally say no to. I do not know if it is in me to say yes to a late night adventure when I know that my body gives out on a lack of sleep but yoCRo (you only CR once).

Lastly, I have had this vision for the past few months of all of CR9 in Italy at the end of the trip celebrating each other in our passions and in the growth we have had personally and together. I am confident that Italy will be the perfect setting for this moment because the country itself has so much to offer and so many places for different passions to thrive. I believe that the Italian people will also give us a great example of what deep community means, and I am excited to learn more from them especially in our final moments of CR.

Overall, I still cannot believe that this is real. I cannot believe that I was accepted into a family that I so highly value and look up to, that I am going to get to spend a month in Europe with 15 of my new best friends, and that in 6 months I am going to be a pro at saying yes to things. Here we go CR9, I am beyond grateful for you already.