First of all, I’d just like to mention how immensely excited I am to have been chosen for this experience. My good family friend, Mackenzie Smith, had been telling me about her experience with CR7 for several months, and as I have a lot of respect for her I knew it would be something that would interest me. My parents had also recently gone on a two week trip through Italy to celebrate their 25th anniversary, keeping international travel fresh in my mind. However, it wasn’t until I’d met Dr. Pitcock and listened to his presentation on CR, as well as the testimonials from former CR students, that I realized I had to be a part of this. Listening to their experiences, their growth, and their friendships, I knew that there was something about this program that I needed, and that I had something to contribute to the group and the experience. Luckily, Dr. P decided to give me a shot.
As remarkable as the experience in Germany will surely be, I find myself most excited for our time in Italy. Since I began studying Latin my freshman year of high school, I’ve had a fascination with the extensive history, deeply-rooted culture, and simply stunning artistry that can be found within the country. Between the rise and fall of the first republican government, the blossoming of the Renaissance, the destructive grip of fascism and the Second World War, and into the resurfacing of vast Roman ruins, Italy has been a cultural and intellectual epicenter since nearly the beginning of Western society. With a track record like this, I have to imagine the place is just mindboggling. The people of Italy will be equally as interesting as the country itself, considering the rich culture of their society and the beautiful nature of their language, and I’m quite excited to interact with them. As tourism is such an integral part of their lives, I suspect they’ll be friendly and interesting, since bountiful tourism is the source of income for so many in the country. That being said, I’ll be curious to see how much of their own history the average citizen knows. I love to ask people questions, so I know I’ll be asking a lot of people for directions as well as questions about their lives and the places around us, and I can’t wait to hear their responses.
As much as CR excites me every day, I’m also aware of the fact that I was chosen for the trip for a purpose, and that’s to grow. Dr. P even tells us that he has specific growth goals for each individual in the group based upon his analysis of them, and I’m sure he has plenty for me. As a self-aware individual, I also have my own growth goals that I hope to achieve during my time abroad. The greatest for me is to learn to come out of my shell and make quick, personal connections with individuals. Unlike many of the other CR9ers, I know very few students on this trip better than preliminary introductions and conversations, which both terrifies and excites me. It’s frightening because it’ll be tough for me to stick my nose out and make those friends at first, but it also excites me because I’ll truly have no choice but to go out on a limb and strike up friendships. If I’m able to make that leap with these kids, I have no doubt that it will help me learn to be more comfortable with meeting and connecting with new people.
The more that CR becomes real, the more I struggle with these dueling feelings of excitement and nervousness. I can’t wait for the memories, friendships, and experiences that are sure to have a profound impact on my life, and at the same time I’m worried about the struggles of making these friends, navigating in foreign countries, and making it through the program. I know this adventure will be one I won’t forget, and I truly am just biding my time until that plane lands in Berlin.