10 Ways to Prepare for Deutschland

Authored by:
Faith W.

Faith W.

Liebe Readers,

Willkommen Damen und Herren!!! I’m so excited to start this journey. These next 10 months will be a wild ride, and I’m glad I can share my time with all of you.

About Me: My name is Faith. I’m 17 years old, and I live in Denver, Colorado. I graduated this May, and will be doing CBYX as a gap year. My host family lives in the suburbs of Berlin, and I can’t wait to explore the city. After CBYX, I will be attending the University of Virginia, studying Public Policy & Leadership on the Pre-Law Track. I interned in the Colorado Governor’s Office all of last year, so I am very interested in exploring the political culture of Deutschland. I love sunsets, traveling, exploring new cultures, singing, dancing, being outdoors (biking, camping, hiking, skiing, etc.), and spending time with family, friends, and my two dogs. I am super extraverted and love meeting different types of people. If I had to describe myself in one word it would be adventurous; I am always up to try something new, whether it’s cooking a new food or chasing waterfalls or cliff jumping. I want CBYX to be my next adventure. 

Why CBYX: I am doing CBYX because I want to expand my global perspective. From 2012 to 2014, my family lived in London, which taught me from a young age that the world is much bigger than myself. I also want to pursue a career in law, and eventually run for public office. Policy impacts people worldwide, and there is no better way to acquire a global worldview than living in another country, becoming fluent in the language and culture. I also look forward to being pushed outside of my comfort zone. Being thrust full-force into a completely different culture will be a shock. I look forward to it. I know that I will grow so much from having to adapt to unexpected situations and newfound independence.

Lists: Ok, weird thing about me, but I LOVE LISTS. There’s something about packaging all the little thoughts in your brain into a streamlined series of information that brings so much comfort. So with that, here’s…

List #1: 10 Ways to Prepare for Deutschland

1. Meet Other CBYXers. I was so scared when I finally sent the email confirming, Yes, I would be going to Germany next year. The main thing that helped me feel more confident about my decision was meeting people who were just as excited and just as terrified as me. After all, these were the only people I’d be with for a month of language camp, as well as the only people who would understand the insane level of change I’d be going through upon arriving in a totally foreign country for a year. When you meet other people who understand the very unique cocktail of feelings you are experiencing before Orientation, you will feel so understood. Follow the CBYX instagram page and the people who follow it. Join the Discord or WhatsApp or a Snapchat or Instagram groupchat. Remember, this program is highly selective, and everyone in it has something super unique to bring to the table. Seek it out. 

2. Learn the Language. I know, it’s been said a million times, but learn German. I took German all four years of high school, including AP German my senior year, but I have been using some resources to continue preparing over the summer. Specifically, I've found the Handbuch Zur Deutschen Grammatik to be extremely helpful. Jamie Rankin does an excellent job of boiling down incredibly complicated grammar phenomena into simple explanations. However, I think the most helpful thing for me this summer has been to…

3. …Make German Part of Daily Life. I listen to my German playlist all the time. I tell the passenger seat about my day in German while I’m driving. I switched my phone into German mode. I facetime my German friends, text my German teachers, and get lunch with German people my family knows. Through these conversations, you can also pinpoint your weaknesses in German (Grammar? Vocabulary? Verbs or nouns? A certain topic that keeps coming up in conversation you can never explain?) For me, it’s vocabulary, so I’ve been using the German vocab list on Memrise and filling a page of my notebook each day with unfamiliar words. I still have a long way to go till I’m fluent, but making German a normal part of my day has been wildly helpful.

4. Incorporate German Culture. Shorter showers. Eating all the food on my plate. Dressing more formally. Taking my shoes off at the door. Shutting the lights off when I leave a room. In order to make a good impression on my host family right away, I’ve been trying to adapt bits of German culture into my everyday life.  

5. Pack. Honestly, I still have no idea how to pack. I think my biggest tip is to start early. It took me months to figure out how to fit everything. Germans do dress more formally, so I brought some dress slacks and linen pants instead of my sweats. I also tried to focus on packing a “capsule wardrobe style” where all of my pieces fit together.

6. Wait for your Host Family. Don’t freak out! I got my host family in late July and the wait was totally worth it. Don’t think about it too much. Your placement will come, and all the time you have to wait is just to ensure your host family is a perfect fit. 

7. Meet your Host Family. Facetiming my host family was so fun. I really loved learning about all of their interests and the plans they have for me next year. This also allowed me to buy personalized gifts for them!! I have two host sisters, 8 and 10 years old, and they are the sweetest things in the entire world. I can’t wait to meet them in person and learn more about them. 

8. Think Ahead. Something that really reduced my stress was making sure I spaced out my appointments throughout the summer to fit everything in. Think about what you need to do in America that you won’t have access to in Germany (ie. health check-ups, dentist appointments, etc.).

9. Enjoy Every Moment. I’ve been spending my whole summer making memories with people I love. My family and I made sure to go back and visit my grandparents, have one last camping trip (our annual tradition), and eat all of our favorite meals one last time. My friends and I each made sure we found time to do our favorite things and just be in each other's presence. I think I stressed a lot about what this year would be like at the beginning of summer, but by the end I learned to cherish all the precious time I had with people and live truly in the moment. 

10. Say Goodbye. I have to be honest, this step has been way harder than I first expected. I think since I would be going off to college anyways, leaving Denver doesn’t feel so bad, but it’s hard to watch all of my friends have the college experience, while I do something entirely different. In the end, I know CBYX will be beyond worth postponing college for a year. Each of my friends and I made a plan for how we will make sure we stay in touch while I am in Germany. My best friend Anna and I send each other videos of our outfits everyday (which lets us learn more about what the other is doing), and my friend Erin and I are writing handwritten letters and facetiming every 25th of each month (since July 25th is the day we said goodbye). Saying my final goodbyes was hard, and I absolutely bawled at the gate with my parents. But I’m ready to make new friends and have new adventures, and I know CBYX will be the experience of a lifetime. 

And, as I say goodbye to everyone else right now, I guess I will also say goodbye to you, dear readers. 

Bis bald (auf Deutschland).

Liebe Grüße,

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