“When I’m old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say wow that was an adventure not wow, I sure felt safe.”

Today’s the day! Europe here we come. I have finished all my packing, checked my luggage, and boarded the first plane. Nothing’s left: except time. In just over 15 hours I will (hopefully) be sitting with Dr. P at the Starbucks in Berlin. How crazy is that? Since these past few days have been busy with packing and saying hello and goodbye to friends and family at home, I have had very little time to reflect on what has happened this year. It feels like one long summer camp (with some learning involved, of course). It seems like just yesterday that I was moving into Milton and now I am gone. I swear I just got chosen for this trip and now I am on my way to Berlin. Seriously? With all that being said, I cannot wait for this new experience. I hope this trip brings some much-needed reflection, both with what has happened in and around me this semester. I hope to grow closer to this amazing group of people. And I hope to acquire a further love and passion for adventure.

First, I believe this trip will give me time to reflect on all that has happened this year. I hope to learn how my Freshman year experiences made me into the man I am today. Whether it being the mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, the random drive to see Chance the Rapper in Houston, or the late night discussions and prayers in room 216: they all made for a crazy year. While I may still forget my wallet every week and I continue to struggle with being overcommitted to things, I believe I am a much stronger person than I was before attending TCU. I believe the act of expressing my thoughts through journaling and discussion with others with very few distractions will allow me to look back on all that has happened in and around me this year and discover my areas of growth. I also believe this will be a time to learn how much room I have to grow further. This trip will not always be easy, and I am prepared to humble myself and learn the areas where I am weak and need to improve.

Next, I am excited to grow closer to this amazing group of people. From my previous experiences traveling with family and friends, I know there is no better way to grow closer to someone than seeing them in both the good and the bad. I am excited for walls to be broken down, awkwardness to be overlooked, and circles to be destroyed. I look forward to growing into the term familia. I am excited to learn something new about each person on the trip and find areas to meet them and help them in any way possible. I am excited for lifelong friendships to be made and memories to be shared. I firmly believe that I will not be able to experience full personal growth on this trip if I am not vulnerable, extending, and genuine to each and every person on this trip. I am confident that I will make mistakes on this trip, but I know that to experience growth I must use the mistakes and use them as tools to further learning and growth. I owe that to my fellow CR members.

Finally, I am excited to acquire a deeper love and passion for adventure. I hope to overlook any expectations that may be telling me how I should approach the trip, and simply be myself. I am excited to soak up every artifact and view. I look forward to using my go-with-the-flow attitude to say yes to new activities, not because other people have done them, but because they are interesting and exciting. I am excited to use the phrase “When in Europe” in all cities in Europe (maybe I will say “When in Rome” in Rome), and approach activities and opportunities with the mindset that I may never see them again. I hope this trip sparks a passion in me to see new things and run away from my comfort zone.

I do have a few fears for this trip. My biggest and maybe most legitimate fear is the fear of losing something. I would be lying if I said that I was not slightly afraid of losing my wallet and never making it back to the US. Not only am I scared of losing an item, I am afraid that I will be late to events and let the group down. I believe this trip will be a test to myself, not only internally but also logistically. I believe that I must step into further responsibility and self-awareness, not only because it affects myself, but it affects those around me. I will work to defeat this fear by constantly double checking to see if I have my passport and being aware of the time when I need to be. The other fear that I have is falling into an attitude of complacency. While I like to think of myself as someone who does not get rattled easily, I have found on previous trips that after a few days I have become complacent and cynical. I hope to defeat this fear by being real and open with my group members and Dr. P, letting them know when I may need a few minutes to reflect before moving onto the next activity. Finally, I am afraid that the expectations that I have for this trip will be used to affect my decision making and attitude. I hope to defeat this fear my constantly reminding myself that this trip is different than all previous ones, and we have the opportunity to make whatever we want out of it.

I cannot wait to arrive in Berlin and get this trip started. For myself, I hope to be vulnerable, reach out to all people, and be a silent leader. For the group, I hope we say yes to challenging opportunities, be open and real with each other, and make this trip unique to CR9. Let’s get it.