Today was my last full day left in Florida. As predicted in my previous post two months ago, it still hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m actually doing this thing. But I can cross off a couple items from my ‘Things I Don’t Know’ list now, because last Thursday I found out who my host family is!
It was such a relief to see the words “Host Family Placement” in my inbox that I almost can’t remember how anxious I was about it before. My Gastfamilie lives in the suburbs of Verden, which is about half an hour away from the city of Bremen. Which is only about an hour away from Hamburg, so I wasn’t too far off with one of my guesses in my last blog post! (My mom snorts and says, “That’s like saying Orlando is just outside of Miami.” Well, I thought it was cool, Mom.)
I will go to school at Gymnasium am Wall with my host sister Lara (17) and my host brother Peter (14). I don’t yet know what grade I will be placed in.
The email I received from my host mom was so warm and welcoming that, for a second, I thought I might cry. I wouldn't call myself an overly emotional person, but it'd been so long between when I was accepted to CBYX and when I got my host family that I'd unconsciously built up all of these negative "What-Ifs" in my head. What If my host family didn't actually want me, and they were coerced into taking me in for the year by a desperate coordinator? Actually, that was pretty much the only "What-If", now that I think about it. But it was very clear from my host mom's letter to me that they're looking forward to hosting me just as much as I'm looking forward to being their exchange student this year, and that set my neurotic mind at ease.
On Saturday I had my last shift at my lifeguarding job, and later in the day, my Auf Wiedersehen party. We had German food from Aldi, and my friend Clemens who’s actually from Germany said that it was pretty close to the real thing, probably because Aldi is a German grocery store.
My mom bought a little notebook and put it out for all the guests to write advice or well-wishes in. The second half of the book remains untouched so that I can ask my friends and host family in Germany to write their goodbyes at the end of the year. I haven't read anything in it yet because I want to save all my crying for the airport tomorrow. I'm sure I'm going to cry at least one, maybe two buckets of tears.
So this is it. I'm 95% packed (just have that last load of laundry to do) and once I've finished writing this, all that will be left for me to do is to try and calm my nerves enough to fall asleep. I'm gonna have my dog, Wilson, sleep in my bed tonight, even though it might not really help me sleep that much. He's one of the top three items on my mental "Things I'll Miss" list. It's hard to leave your pets because there's really no way to explain to them that you're going to be gone and why.
The CIEE group chat has been blowing up my phone all day. Everyone is in various states of excitement, mental breakdown, anxiety, and anticipation. Some of us have been talking for months, and tomorrow we get to meet in person. This is one of the things I'm trying to keep at the forefront of my mind so that I don't become overwhelmed with thoughts of all the people and things from home that I know I'm going to miss pretty hard for the next couple of months. In the grand scheme of things, 10 months isn't such a long time. It may be easier said than done, but I'm going to try my best not to waste that time wishing I was somewhere I used to be or wishing that I was with people I'm not with.
Here's to our upcoming year in Germany.