don’t usually do this

“You know where we are going?” “You’re sure this is the right train?” Even after a week and a half together, the group still asks questions to verify we are on the right path or following the correct directions. Maybe it is because we don’t listen to the answers of questions the first time. Maybe it is because we are just not detail-oriented people. Either way, our time here seems plagued with repeated questions and answers. Why can’t us Americans listen?

One possible explanation could be because we were seconds from missing the train connecting to the night train, the night train, the bus taking us back from our castle adventure, and pretty much every form of transportation possible at this point it seems. This might be slightly concerning, but we still pretty much have a perfect record for success. A few close calls, sure, but no tragic missed transportation incidents. With all these almost-misses, I can understand why we, myself included, continually question the directions we receive to ensure we are on the correct path. No one can blame us for double checking, right?

As a group of high achievers, I believe that most of us are familiar with being the leader of a group whether it is for a class project, sports team, or extracurricular activity. With everyone being high achievers, however, some people inevitably will not be able to lead 100% of the time. As a person who usually likes to know what is going on, this trip has challenged me to assert myself when I feel I can add something to the group but also find the balance to allow others to direct the group when they are more knowledgable than I. In the travel situations previously mentioned, the result would have been much less stressful if everyone carefully listened to directions the first time and trusted the system would work. Especially as a person who wants to know what is going on for my own comfort and planning purposes, I feel that placing all my trust in other people in stressful situations is difficult. Perhaps it would be more comfortable if I knew the plans (train departure times, station switches, travel estimates), but I think I have already grown to trust others more than I did at the beginning of CR.

But when is it okay to blindly follow directions instead of asking questions? I think this question is difficult to answer. All information received should be questioned and reflected upon for the group’ safety. With that said, I’ve learned to evaluate two things before I ask for clarification: where the information is coming from and the importance that the information is correct. When the information is coming from Dr. P or a map expert, I can be pretty confident that whatever they said is correct. Similarly, if the information causes the group to take a wrong turn on a street in the small town of Interlaken, I probably do not to question it because the problem can be easily corrected. By contrast, if we were hopping on a train that leads to Italy but there is a possibility it leads back to Germany and I’m not sure exactly what the signs are saying, it feels better to be safe than sorry and just ask.

In the future, I know I will be in situations where I have no idea what is going on, both in CR and in life. From the experiences these past weeks, I think I will be able to better evaluate when I can completely trust someone to direct the group especially when they know more than I do. Considering the people I am here with are exceptionally intelligent, listening to their directions has been easier than it would be if I was with a different group, but I still feel like I have improved at trusting people overall and going “with-the-flow.”

– Christian