Packing for a trip is an interesting thing. As I pack and fold each outfit, I picture myself wearing it in some future destination. Packing elicits these fuzzy two dimensional images that I have in my head of what the experience of the trip will be like. The pictures are always pretty simple and fairly idealistic. Future me is perfectly dressed for the occasion and in the perfect environment I picture the destination to be.
Unpacking for a trip, however, is a more interesting thing. As I take out and unfold each outfit, I see videos in my head of where I wore each outfit. This time the details are all the way filled in. In reality I was overdressed or underdressed or too hot or too cold or over packed or under packed, but these are things I do not remember because in the videos, the environment is moving and dynamic. It is full of inside jokes between the people I traveled with and the distinct smell of a city. The places are real to me, as are the people I met, the food I ate, and the experience I had. Like re-watching my favorite movie, I look back on those times with nostalgia and seek to relive them through the amazing gift of memory.
I love to travel, because it takes those two dimensional images in my mind of perfection and colors them with life. It reminds me that I am not in control of the future and that there are things to explore and experiences to be had that I do not even know how to dream up. I am reminded that I never know when I have more videos behind me than pictures in front of me, so the best thing I can do is live in that three dimensional, living, breathing, space we call the present. The present for Cultural Routes is the fulfillment of the ideas I had of being abroad in Europe as it is simultaneously the place I will look back on and give anything to go back to (sorry CR1-8 if that hit too close to home).
As I reflect on my fears, my expectations, and my hopes for the trip, it is like packing. I really don’t know what to expect or how to prepare. I can follow the guidelines the best I can, maybe do my own research, and hope for the best. The best I can hope for is that I live this trip fully. I hope I never re-watch the trip videos in my mind and wonder what it would have been like if I was fully there. Instead, I hope that I value each memory of this trip so much that I grow to be more invested in what is happening each day throughout the rest of college. Of course with the exception to stop and relive this trip every now and then with my fifteen new friends I get to share the present with for the next month.