After a week of traveling around Germany I am finally posting my first blog (I promise I’m alive mom and dad!!). Before beginning this journey, I had very few expectations. Reflecting back on this experience so far I am thrilled with how CR9 has begun and I know there is so much too look forward to. When I think back specifically on our five days in Berlin three main things come to mind: roles, rest, and Riles.
On the first full day we all received our groups for our time in Berlin. I was so lucky to be put on team Bravo with Matt, Davis, Madeline, Jacey, and Lance. Our group was ready to throw ourselves completely into the city and we immediately hit it off together. Each of us wanted to play our part in helping the team succeed and so we all volunteered to fill different roles: maps, morale, and experience. I immediately knew that I wanted to be on maps because I like to have control of situations and I was confident I could navigate my way through a foreign city. Although team maps started out strong for the first couple minutes of the day, I quickly realized that I was not the right person for the job in Berlin. Since Matt had just recently traveled to Berlin, he was already very familiar with the city and stepped up to lead Bravo around Berlin. I, having no idea how to navigate around the city, took a step back from that role and found my self behind my camera. By taking a step back from the role I assumed I would be best at, I was able to fulfill the role that my team needed me to fill instead of the role I wanted to have. Taking pictures and videos of the people and places around me allows me to capture the genuine, candid moments behind the scenes that often mean the most after a long day. Since that first day I have found myself behind my lens looking at Germany and the amazing people on this trip from a unique perspective. Although it was difficult for me to give up control and trust in the other members of Bravo, I thoroughly enjoyed taking a step back to watch those around me and document the moments that make this experience amazing.
I also learned a lot about rest and recovery in Berlin. I have learned that everyday here in Europe will probably be the hardest day yet. This can be taken in a lot of different ways. Before we began day two in Berlin, Dr. Pitcock told us that it would probably be the hardest day of the trip because we were jet lagged, tired, and sore from the long day before. The picture above was taken about half way through day two. I may look energetic and cheery in the picture, but the first half of the day did not look the same way. I struggled a lot that morning with all the things Dr. P had warned us about and I could not seem to get over it. I was quiet in our group and did not have the positive, bubbly attitude I always strive to have. Even though I could have faked it till I made it, I allowed myself to sulk that morning and dragged my feet through the city. Right before lunch our group climbed to the top of the Berliner Dome. What should have been the breaking point of my horrible, exhausting day actually was the turning point. I was able to reflect on the day during our climb to the top of the dome and make the decision to be positive, optimistic, and excited for the sake of my group and the entire experience. From that point on the day was amazing. Our group joked and laughed and had the most amazing afternoon. Walking around a hot foreign city all day everyday can be exhausting and frustrating. It is so easy to shut down and have a bad attitude, but we only have 25 days to take in every aspect this experience has to offer. Even just one morning is precious. Knowing when to take ten minutes to yourself to rest and refocus your mind on the day is so important and is something that this day taught me. Just as one bad attitude can bring down the entire group, one positive attitude can also change the entire group mindset as well. One of the most important role each of us plays for each other on this experience is to be there to lean on when someone is having a bad day and to help pick someone else up when they have one too. I hope to be that person to everyone.
Finally, Riles. Something that I consider a true sign of friendship and comfort is nicknames. Many people in this group have started calling me Riles, which I love. Even this small seemingly insignificant detail shows just how amazing this group is. After just one week I feel so comfortable with every person in this group and I am beyond hopeful for what the future holds. Each and every person is so unique and special and I am so excited to get to know each person better.
Berlin was the perfect first stop on this experience and Munich has already proved to be just as amazing. Stay tuned