The Lines on the Map Aren’t Actually There, We Draw Them On

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself:” the words of a great American. However, we find ourselves on the path to Europe, a land entirely different from our own; a land where fear has reigned in the past, a land that seems so much more… human… than our American machine.

When asked to address the idea of fears in the perspective of our upcoming journey, the (scientifically stated to be undeveloped) frontal lobe of my male brain innately and immediately responds with the aforementioned quote. Although I am predisposed to feel fearless, bold, and confident, I understand that it is human to feel fear, as it keeps us alive (evolutionarily and emotionally speaking). This dichotomy of fear and confidence is part of why I anticipate Cultural Routes with such enthusiasm.

I speculate that this fearless, bold confidence comes in part from the American way. We are raised on the stories of the American dream, in which hard work and persistence can make goals attainable. But, this “work hard, earn money, retire” attitude can seem to be machine-like. I look forward to seeing the European lifestyle and attitude that world travelers talk about. I wonder if one can adopt a more laid back mindset amidst the modern “go go go.” Leaving the land of the modern machine, I travel back to a more human place that predates America in years, but also in lifestyle.

I hope to glean some sort of insight into this mysterious, slower-paced lifestyle that Europeans supposedly embody. The occurrence of this trip at this moment in world history, my life, and at a critical point in American foreign influence causes me to wonder: What does it mean to be American?

This is a question I plan to explore as my peers and I grow throughout Europe. TCU strives to develop global citizens, and I think that part of being a global citizen is looking at your current individual and national identity.

I feel an authentic excitement as we prepare to depart for CR9. I look forward to standing at the past’s pinnacles of historic magnitude, with individuals who I believe have the potential to shape the story of the future. This includes some of my best friends, and surely best-friends-to-be.

As a science major travelling abroad on a cultural education trip, I excitedly anticipate the opportunity to get to think in a different mindset than that with which I would approach chemistry or a laboratory. However, I also look forward to viewing culture with the lens of a science-minded analyst who does love humanity and the defining aspects of culture and history.

Speaking of pasts and futures, my goal for the group would be that each of us comes back with a radically different perspective on something, anything, as long as it changes our lives. We have all come from different places, have banded together for TCU and CR9, but will someday move on to life after college. Memories and relationships last forever, and so do lessons learned. Let us all learn a lesson that sticks with us for life.

Personally, my goal is to develop a “big picture” perspective of the world. On Google Maps, you can zoom out, but in real life, seeing the world as a whole is a more daunting and complex task. I seek to understand more deeply what a city and a nation are, beyond my microcosmic view in life thus far. Our world doesn’t have lines carved in the ground between countries that you can see from space. I hope to see it without lines.