As the CR11 student known for her passionate feedback upon receipt of Cultural Routes merchandise but less than expressive response to her acceptance (due to wisdom teeth surgery, bummer), I am inclined to emphasize the less tangible aspects of the experience that prompted me to apply in the first place. The 4-week excursion through European cultural centers with 15 other students who similarly desire a growth unique to this kind of adventure has increasingly taken over my thoughts as our departure quickly approaches. Rather than list expectations, I choose to discuss and think about the emotions I am feeling toward CR and how those will translate to stepping off of a plane in Berlin just 43 days from now.
First, merely being chosen to go to Europe has brought me so much joy and given me an intense sense of belonging. Obviously, translated to the experience itself, I will leave with a sense of belonging within the group I explore with. But, on a deeper sense, coming home and rejoining real life will reinforce my new belonging as a well-informed and developed member of a global community as I face challenges for which I have been prepared by CR. I am excited because I know that CR will leaving a lasting impact on my interaction with the communities to which I currently belong and which I will join in the future.
Next, CR itself is a month conjured up in dreams. Attempting to explain the experience to others inquiring of my summer plans reminds me of the unprecedented experience each time. How many students get to say they are gaining gaining credit by exploring and learning in 3 European countries sans classrooms? Further, how many rising sophomore are afforded this opportunity?
I admit I have failed to think about each individual place and what I will encounter there. But, I believe this may not be considered failure. I, unlike others, have not yet allowed myself to think too highly of Rome or write off Munich as a pit-stop.
So, in asking CR alumni about Munich, I have been excited to hear their accounts and begin to form less than binding opinions of Munich. One alum I reached out to shared her personal experiences, eliciting laughter and somewhat alarming images on my end. Another alum responded with concrete descriptions of encounters with unexpected (probably to an American brain) beauty. To quote some texts, “oh my gosh MUNICH! HAHAHAH literally my favorite place…so I came in with really low expectations but that’s when I met one of my very best friends.” The other alum, in so many words, talked about the museum her group visited on accident, farmers markets, castles, and more. Munich seems to bring about treasured bonding moments and constant encounters with extraordinary sites.
So in short, Munich may give the fleeces competition for the “best part of CR.” I will have to get there to decide.