A Newfound Community

Reflecting back on Cultural Routes is a whole new experience in it of itself. While everyone definitely tried to reflect on each individual day as they came in Europe, it’s really difficult to see and understand the experience as a whole until you’re back in your room, no longer surrounded by 17 amazing people. It’s so weird to think that a year ago, I didn’t even know what CR was. You truly don’t know what life will bring you and how your life may change just in a year’s time.

When I first arrived back in Dallas, after a little unexpected detour to Austin, there was a real shock that came with adjusting to normal life again that I didn’t expect. Obviously, there was the physical adjustment. My first night back home I fell asleep at 7:30pm and woke up wide awake at 3:00am. But also, my parents work and my sister was taking summer classes, so all of a sudden I found myself spending a lot of time alone that I didn’t think would affect me the way that it did. I was so accustomed to the speed and energy that our group brought everyday, and for life to slow down the way it did was difficult to manage. I missed our loud, a little chaotic, group, their positive spirit, and constant light they shined on me.

As many have expressed, the most valuable thing I believe we all gained was a new community that will extend far beyond the limited time that we had at CR. Even with the students that went on past CRs, there’s this sense of belonging that comes with going through a similar experience. I was the only guy on CR11 that isn’t affiliated with a fraternity, and I think most of the girls are in a sorority. I definitely felt like an outlier at times, not relating to some of the topics or experiences that many others have been through, but I’m so thankful that I can now feel as if I belong to something special. This is the first time in college that I really feel this sense of strong community and support.

There are so many amazing memories and the one thing I’m scared of is that memories fade. I wish I could hold onto every detail for the rest of my life, but luckily relationships are long-term even when memories aren’t. Pictures get lost, life gets busy, but true ties to genuine people stay. As we plan CRanksgiving and other get-togethers, I know CR never really ended in a sense. I feel extremely blessed to have been one of the sixteen to have been chose to go through this experience, but I honestly wish that everyone could. Everyone deserves this feeling, and hopefully most people are able to experience something of the alike in a different form, but I’m so grateful that this was my adventure. Every person on CR11 holds a special place in my heart. I am so thankful that Dr. P envisioned what Cultural Routes should and could be. I’m so thankful that he saw something in me and gave me this opportunity. And of course, I can never express my appreciation enough of the time and effort that both Dr. P and Bea put into make this happen before, during, and after our time together.

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