by Kaitlyn McIntosh
CIEE Study Abroad (Berlin, Paris, and Rome Open Campus, Fall 2016)
I studied in Europe in the Fall of 2016 on a multi-destination CIEE program. I started in Rome, then moved to Paris, and finished my time abroad in Berlin. Little did I know that I was saving the best destination for last, where I would not only fall in love with the city, but I would meet the love of my life!
Beginning in Rome, I made a lot of close friends. We all bonded and did things together as a large group whenever we had the chance. It was sad when all the friends I made in Rome did not continue on to Paris with me but rather they moved on to Berlin. They all chose to go to Rome first, then Berlin, and finish in London. I was actually the only student in the program to go from Rome, to Paris, and finish in Berlin.
Paris was amazing, and I also met a lot of amazing people there. When my days in Paris were coming to an end, however, I found myself all alone at our accommodation, and missing my friends from Rome. After a few texts back and forth with my good friend Lam, I made the quick decision to change my flight from Paris to Berlin to that night so I could hang out with my Rome friends during their last days in Berlin.
I arrived in Berlin and took a taxi to CIEE, Gneisenaustrasse, 27 – a place that would soon have more significance to me than I could ever imagine. It was dark when I arrived, and as I stood outside the locked school with my huge bags of luggage, I heard a voice in the distance behind me. "Is that Kaitlyn?" I recognized the voice immediately. It was another one of my close friends from Rome, Nick. He approached me with another good friend, Brendan, and two other new faces.
As we were catching up over what had been going on over the past four weeks apart, Nick introduced me to the new faces, Jaime and Albert. Nick told me that if I wanted to have a good time in Berlin and really get to know the city, that Jaime and Albert were the guys to go to for that. I exchanged numbers with Jaime and went on to meet my friend and former roommate, Monea.
I didn't think too much about having had exchanged numbers with Jaime. The next day, however, he was already inviting me to go to flea markets and cool local bars. I immediately realized how rewarding his friendship was. To make things even better, he lived right next door to the school!
Jaime and I became inseparable. I began to see how amazing he was not only as a person, but also as a partner for me! We are both vegetarian and he showed me all the great places for getting vegetarian food in Kreuzberg. He is from Spain, so he speaks Spanish and German. I had studied German for quite some time, so it was great to have someone to practice with and help me with my German homework, and help me learn a new language in general! We like the same kind of music and enjoyed doing the same kind of activities. I was in disbelief that I had met such an amazing person the very moment I arrived at G 27 to start my experience in Berlin.
Not only did I fall in love with a person in Berlin, but I also fell in love with the city! Berlin is by far the coolest city in my book. The German people are so friendly, I love the language, there is so much history and culture, and the night scene is right up my alley with all the techno music and dance clubs. I was overwhelmed by the city of Berlin and was almost disappointed that I had missed out on it for so long!
Anyway, my time in Berlin with Jaime would soon come to an end. Jaime actually left 10 days before I did. He had been planning to move to Argentina, which he did. It was a very tough goodbye.
When I returned home, Jaime and I kept in touch. We sent mail to each other and checked in over texts to see how the other was doing. Before long, I knew I wanted to see him again. I had spring break coming up for a week in March and asked if he would mind a visitor in Buenos Aires. He welcomed the idea, but he wasn't happy in Argentina and decided we should meet in his home country, Spain, instead. He packed up his things to move back to Spain and we met there in the Bilbao airport. From there, he took me to the north of Spain, Loredo, where we spent a week at his cousins surf hostel that we had all to ourselves due to the season. It was another amazing experience with Jaime, as we made fires on the beach, did yoga every morning, and drove through the mountains and villages of northern Spain.
I felt as if I were living in a fairytale. Jaime and I met up again in Munich, then Barcelona, and he even accompanied me as my date to my brother’s wedding.
Jaime eventually moved back to Berlin and I became a flight attendant, which enables me to visit him in Berlin whenever possible! He also comes to the U.S. sometimes to visit me as well.
November 5, 2018 marked two years since the day I met Jaime, and I can honestly say they have been the best two years of my life! I have CIEE to thank for the amazing friendships I made that led me to meeting the love of my life!