As I enjoyed Mother’s Day brunch with my family yesterday, I decided to ask my parents some questions about Germany and the culture. Having both spent extensive time in Germany, they were able to give me great information about the country and the people that live in it. At some point, my dad who is proficient in German started teaching me German words. So here I was in a nice restaurant on Mother’s Day trying to capture a German accent while sipping on some orange juice. I now have a list of over 15 words and phrases that my dad has taught me. Even some slang words which I am sure Dr. P will be thrilled to hear about.
I think what I am most excited about for this trip is encapsulated in this exchange I had with my dad. I know I am not going to be able to have a conversation or say anything meaningful in German, but that is not my purpose. My purpose here and my goal for the trip is to really dive into the culture. People have been throwing around this cliché a lot about diving in or fully submersing yourself, but what does this actually mean?
For me, I find that it means engaging with the culture by talking to people. Hearing their stories and asking them questions. I am excited to be sitting in a café and ask our server questions like, “What is your perception of Americans?” or, “What do you think of our political atmosphere?” We will never find a perspective like this back in the States, so I am seeking to take advantage of it. I love to hear about different opinions and perspectives so what better time and place to do this.
At the end of the day, I am just so excited for this trip. A common theme throughout the buildup process for CR has been people asking me about my fears for Cultural Routes. With so many people asking me this same question, I felt like there was almost pressure to have some grave worry about the unknown journey ahead. While this might come off as arrogant or ignorant, I genuinely do not have fears and worries for this trip. I have a lot of hopes for CR. I hope we learn a lot about European history. I hope we engage in the culture. I hope we grow closer to one another. But I do not worry. By worrying I might let negativity take away from what CR is at its core. It is three and a half weeks traveling Europe with seventeen other incredible individuals. What is better than that?
As I finish my last blog written in the United States, it is hard to comprehend that I will be in Europe in two days. The quick turnaround from finishing up finals to coming home and immediately packing has caused me to not really recognize that Cultural Routes is upon us. To be honest, I do not even think it will even hit me on the plane because I will be fast asleep (shout out to ZzzQuil). Regardless, this will be a trip of a lifetime and I am so appreciative of being able to walk hundreds of miles with these people. Let’s grow close. Let’s learn a lot. Most importantly, let’s have some fun!