I’ll set the scene for you: A group of American students. One big dance floor in an iconic building. The students are doing the Footloose dance. You may be thinking: why is Emma writing about Billy Bobs? This is her post reflection for Cultural Routes, right?
Well, I probably should have mentioned that those Americans were dancing with a bunch of Austrian girls and we had just ate a whole bunch of wiener schnitzel and white asparagus. Oh and we were in a dance hall in Berlin, Germany, our first stop of CR.
What a start, right?
The dance hall was just the first step in immersing ourselves with each other and the city where were in. Was it kind of awkward at first to dance? I would say yes. But as more of us started to get into it, I felt more and more comfortable. This, in my opinion, can also be applied to Cultural Routes as a whole. When we first arrived in Berlin, we all knew each other in some way or another, however now we had to share a room and live together. At first, I was a little nervous. My roommates were Taylor and Cooper for our first stop. I had known Cooper more than Taylor, but we quickly started chatting as if we had all know each other for much longer. This of course, only increased over time. Similarly, at dinner and in groups we all got to know each other better and on different levels that allowed us how to be more comfortable with everyone.
One moment that stands out to me is when we were exploring Munich on a very wet and rainy day. Walking to Odenplatz, Brent started to ask me question about my life. Brent and I had know each other since the start of school because we were in the same Frogs First group and started talking because we are both from San Diego. Despite knowing each other since August, we still did not know that much about each other. I remember this being one of my first conversations that I allowed myself to go beyond surface level questions and answers. Knowing myself, I would have never had this conversation with him if it hadn’t been under the umbrella of Cultural Routes.
I cherish every single conversation I had over the course of those 26 days. One of the reasons I can’t wait to get back to school is because of those conversations. On the second to last day in Rome between The Vatican and the Colosseum, Claire, Cooper, Madelyn and I were just hanging out in the room and started to ask each other random questions. Soon enough, we were laughing to the point of tears and answering very honestly. Looking back to those first cities, I don’t know if this would have happened if we had not been living together and spending literally every moment with each other. For me, it takes a little bit to open up to people and on CR I was able to do this and the results were meaningful friendships with some pretty cool people.
While it has been an adjustment not being with everyone, I’ve been lucky enough to live near three other members of CR 11. Even better, we’ve been able to get together already. Being with them not in Europe was strange. No longer were we walking around famous museums and landmarks, but around my house and where I grew up. However, it was like we never left. Shoutout to Claire, Kevin, and Brent (aka the ~Californians~)!
There were several reasons why it was hard to come back home from CR:
- I wouldn’t be with all my friends again until the fall.
- Everyone I encounter would ask me how my “trip” (I know, I know) was. They would also ask if I took a class while I was there. I would say no, which was then followed by “then what would you do?”. The better question would have been “what didn’t we do?”. We didn’t just walk around memorials and museums, but we actually learned about them in ways that other visitors could not. We didn’t just talk with our groups, we truly got to know the people in them. We didn’t just go on a trip, we went on an experience.
I remember being so nervous on my way to the airport in Dallas to meet Gabby. We both got there super early so we walked around the airport like 5 times to kill some time. We both knew that this would be the last time we could relax for the better part of a month, but we were both so excited to just get on that plane and head to Germany. In those next 26 days, I would cheer on Hertha Berlin, sing in a Mini Cooper with Claire, Dr. P, and Bea, swim in the Ligurian Sea, fall asleep at a rotating James Bond themed restaurant on the top of a mountain, climb to the top of The Duomo, and eat 30 scoops of gelato in 24 hours. Not to mention, go to two Olympic stadiums, float down the River Arno, take a cooking class, and hike to two castles. That is just a small glimpse of the experiences from Cultural Routes 11. There is so much more that I could just go on and on about all day long.
As cliche as it sounds, words truly cannot express how thankful I am from being able to go on CR. Dr. P lead us on a journey that I’m sure not one of the 16 of us will ever forget a moment of it.
I would like to say thank you to Brent, Bea, Chloe, Claire, Connor, Cooper, Dr. Pitcock, Gabby, Griffin, Harris, Kevin, Kynnedi, Lauren, Madelyn, Peter, Sarah, and Taylor (aka all of CR11) for the most amazing 26 days! What I would do without them? I don’t know!
See everyone soon!