More Than Just a Street Sign

In the next 300-400 words, you will witness my attempt to explain how I feel about the fact that the next time I write a blog, I’ll be writing from Europe. With this fact come a lot of emotions, and honestly, as a disclaimer, I’ve never been great at communicating my emotions with words. There’s the first thing CR will teach me I bet. Sitting at the airport waiting to fly home to Atlanta, I realize that in exactly three days, three hours, and forty two minutes, I will be taking off from the Atlanta airport to fly to Berlin. As I type that, excitement and nervousness automatically start running through my thoughts.

Quite honestly, I can’t give concrete reasons for my excitement, because I don’t know what to be excited for. I don’t want to go in with expectations because frankly, this trip will be unique to CR9 and we will create it as we go. Beyond the very detailed schedule Dr. Pitcock creates for us, we add the little moments. Over the next year, we will share with freshman our own favorite moments from the trip as upperclassmen have shared with us. Each trip has its own spontaneous adventures and little things that make it unique, and those little moments that you can’t prepare for are some of my favorite memories from my freshman year. I can only imagine how much better they will be when they occur in Europe, and I have the ability to be fully present for them, with no concern about tests or studying. Speaking of, my excitement multiplies at the thought of learning with no agenda and knowing I have no other commitments in this next month. Having felt like I had multiple classes and organizations running through my mind this entire semester, I am beyond fired up to focus 125% of my attention on CR9. Finally, I’m excited to be challenged – to be challenged to push through moments when I’m tired, to look at cities through different lenses, and to step out of my comfort zone, and to fully engage in friendships.

Now, I do admit that within all that excitement, a ton of questions fly around as well. I wonder how I’ll view the world when I return. In a month, I hope to answer a few questions. How does the way people live life in one city compare to another? Why do they live life differently? Is it based on economic history? Does it trace back to wars that happened years ago? How does the extensive amount of history in a place like Europe affect the way they live and conduct society today? Then, I hope to take those answers and figure out why they matter and the different ways I can learn from them. To fulfill this goal of answering those questions, I plan to ask a lot of questions during the trip. When I visit Seville, Spain in high school, I learned you can discover a lot about a city or neighborhood from the architecture that composes it or even from a street name. For example, above you see a street sign for Freidrichstrasse in Berlin. This is not just any street, though. Not only did the Berlin Wall cross this street, but it is also the home to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the many crossing points for foreigners during the Cold War from East Berlin to West Berlin. Also, American student, Frederick Pryor, held captive by East Berlin during the Cold War was released here. The street has endured bombing raids and tanks facing off, suffered devastation from WWII, and revived itself as a major shopping and cultural district of the city. In the same way the city grew from the events of the 20th century, the street bounced back as well. In addition, if I understand the little I know of our itinerary, it’s the site of the train station we will be using when we arrive in Berlin. Not just an ordinary street sign anymore right?

Further than these academic goals, a personal goal of mine is to not be afraid to be vulnerable. I realize that if I hold back, others will hold back. If I’m not all in, why should the person next to me be? Personally, with vulnerability often comes fear. In a college setting, opportunities to be vulnerable with people are rare, so I plan to not let any opportunities pass me by on this trip. Beyond my personal goals, I can’t help but have a few goals for the group who I will soon be calling mi familia. Considering that each and every one of us has something unique to bring to the group, I hope we each fully embrace this opportunity to learn from each other. I imagine a familia who dives into each late night adventure, each little moment, and commits to each other even when differences arise and create difficulty. Opportunities like these come once in a lifetime, and because of that, it’s time to be all in. Finally, since I started writing this, there are now three days, two hours and fourteen minutes until take off to Berlin. Goodbye America! Or should I say, “Auf Wiedersehen!”