A week before Thanksgiving, I joined a cultural exploration trip held by Department of Multicultural Services (DMS). I was very lucky to have a seat on that trip because I registered two weeks after the announcement and I was on the waitlist until two days before the day. Honestly, after more than a year becoming Texas A&M students, I just realized about cultural exploration trip this semester. I would like to join a trip to San Antonio on October to celebrate Día de Los Muertos, but I had another event on that day. I wasn’t thinking that they would have an upcoming trip afterwards, so I did not check my inbox carefully. Luckily, I had a chance to join trip to Austin visiting Sacred Spring Powwow, an annual Native American festival.
We left campus at 9 am and arrived at Blanton Museum of Art in Austin at around 11 am. After 1.5 hours exploring the museum and enjoying various installations from contemporary art to African-American art, we moved to San Marcos to visit powwow festival. The festival was held at Texas State University area near Spring Lake, San Marcos. Entering the gate, we were welcomed by sound of drums coming from a big tent in the center of the park. The big tent was a place for any performances including dance competition. It was surrounded by smaller booths selling Native American crafts and foods. We only had 2.5 hours to enjoy the festival on our own and I spent my time watching Aztec Dance and flute performance.
[Aztec dance performance]
Based on my experience above, I strongly suggest that you should join cultural exploration trip by DMS at least once because it’s not just a common trip.
1. The trip won’t empty your pocket
For people who have no car in College Station, going to nearby cities like Houston or Austin is a trip full of efforts. Thanks to Zimride and other carpools for making trip to those cities easier and cheaper for car-less people. But there is another trip with less cost and more amenities; Cultural Explorations Trip by DMS! A trip to San Antonio, Houston, or Austin will cost you only $20 ($21 for using e-payment) and it covers all the things you need.
Back to my Austin trip, the registration fee included round-trip transportation by coach bus, breakfast, snacks, and entrance fee to Blanton Museum of Art and Sacred Spring Powwow. You barely get those things with the same amount if you go on your own. The only thing draining your pocket is your uncontrolled shopping during the festival.
2. Be a witness of cultural events around Texas
According to DMS, the main purpose of this trip is to provide opportunities for TAMU students, faculty, and staff members to travel and experience the various cultures and communities across the state. Cultural exploration trip always offers you various cultural experiences, so you won’t be wandering around the destination city without anything specials.
As an international student, I am curious to attend any cultural events here especially those I hardly find in my home country. However, I have no clue how to get to know. Randomly googling “cultural events near me” sound gambling and time-consuming. DMS always organizes a trip coinciding with an interesting cultural event around College Station, even an event that you might never think about before. And most of the events are held annually or seasonally. For example, the trip to Dallas on this September is going to visit Texas State Fair and the trip to San Antonio is going to see Día de Los Muertos Festival. So, once you get an announcement from DMS, never think it twice if it takes you to an event you’ve been waiting for.
3. Perfect short getaway
I understand that living as a college student is full of assignments and projects thus, we barely think about traveling in the middle of a semester. Cultural exploration trip by DMS is held during your busiest time (for this Fall is in September, October, and November) and just a one-day trip. It becomes a perfect getaway for you to relax your mind from deadlines. You don’t need to arrange your transportation, itinerary, destination, and other stuff. All you need to do is signing up the trip and paying for it. During the day, you’ll be just sitting on the bus and enjoying the trip without worrying being tired. Although the trip may be short and not enough to enjoy a show entirely (as I did in powwow festival), you’ll still get fun.
Well, I just joined cultural exploration trip by DMS once and my review might not represent the whole things. However, if you ask me to sign up for the upcoming trips, I will say: YES, I WILL DO IT!
Mifrokhah is a masters student in the Geotechnical Engineering program.