I really hate talking about how I’m feeling. I’ve thought a lot about that since coming to college, and especially since I’ve started blogging. I think I’m uncomfortable with the process because I’m often unsure how to interpret and express what I’m feeling. Sometimes I feel sad or nervous or just plain bad, and I don’t know why. I’ve always found it easier to ignore any negative feelings I experience as I want to be perceived as strong and happy. I want to present an image of control and invincibility. I don’t let people see me experience any weakness such as crying. Whether that’s because I grew up playing sports or because I’m trying to break the stereotype of an “emotional woman” living in a man’s world, I don’t know. I really am working on expressing myself and have gotten better at it, but still have a ways to go. I’m hoping this trip will force me to understand and express myself better and, in turn, appreciate how others are feeling. This trip is sure to be an emotional rollercoaster and instead of fighting it, I will try to sit front row, hands up in the air! I’ll buy the obligatory mid-coaster picture after, even if I look foolish in it. If there is one thing that I have learned in college is that it’s okay to look silly, in fact it’s oftentimes more fun.
I am primarily excited for the trip, though also have a healthy touch of nerves. I’m so glad that I get to spend 3.5 more weeks with an amazing group of TCU students. Moving out of Milton was only tolerable because I knew that I still had time to hang out with and get to know some of my awesome classmates. In addition, I’m looking forward to spending a few weeks away from the everyday worries at home and the insane climate of American politics. I’ve never been to any of the countries that we are going to visit and I’m so excited to see and experience these new cultures. My aim is to give up control, let my guard down more. (If you haven’t yet grasped, not my favorite thing to do.) I worry about group dynamics because I always want everyone to get along. In any group, there is bound to be conflict and I’m learning to appreciate that conflict is a vital ingredient to growth.
Throughout the trip, I look forward to focusing on how culture and family can effect one’s personality and beliefs. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about that where someone is born in this world determines so much in their life. Out of pure luck I was born into a family with two loving parents in the United States. Other babies are born in war-torn Syria or oppressive North Korea. Some are born into a Christian family, others a predominantly Muslim family. Does the cultural center in which someone is born determine religious beliefs? Does it determine political beliefs? Culture determines a lot – even in the United States. For example, northeastern states are predominantly liberal and southern states conservative. I know that I would not have the perspective or personality that I have today without being born to one Christian parent and one Jewish parent. One is a moderate conservative and one is a moderate liberal. I want to understand what aspects of culture and location affect personality, and being in Europe with a diverse group of students will lead to some insight into this question.
My goal for the group and for myself is to remain open-minded about places, people, and beliefs. It is easy and convenient to judge people, but it can also lead to incorrect assumptions. I urge all of us to include everyone in conversations and activities so no one feels left out or judged. It’s also important to respect ideas that we do not understand. Places across the ocean are likely to have different traditions or lifestyles, and that is something to celebrate rather than look down upon or scrutinize.
I am genuinely so excited to explore Europe with this group of awesome people. I am ready to grow, make mistakes (idea courtesy of Madeline Pitcock), and learn a whole lot. BERLIN BABY!!!