As of today, I have officially been in Germany for two weeks!
On August 4th, I flew from Dulles International Airport to Frankfurt International Airport to start my CBYX year. It was crazy to think that, growing up in Northern Virginia, I have taken many flights to and from Dulles Airport, but this one stood out among them all, as the most important one I’ve taken. The life-changing one.
And let me tell you, that’s exactly what it’s been.
In a whirlwind fourteen days, I’ve arrived at Language Camp, made 48 new friends, gotten lost in the Schloss (the castle where we have our German classes and dorms), and, most importantly, and gained mounds of confidence in myself and my German ability, which is one of the most important skills for my upcoming year.
One of my favorite parts of Language Camp is actually a part I didn’t expect to like as much as I do: small group. Each CBYXer is put into a group with 9 or so other CBYXers, and we talk about all of our concerns with one of the awesome Experiment volunteers. It’s so great to let out all of our concerns with people who understand exactly how we’re feeling. Each of the Experiment volunteers has spent time abroad before, so they understand our worries. It really is reassuring to be reminded that we’re all in the same boat, and to hear your own concerns voiced by others, because then you remember that none of us are alone in this. In my small group, I’ve gotten advice for some of my biggest worries that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
My German class is also amazing. In my class, we speak only German, which we didn’t always do in my German class in America. I learn tons of new vocabulary everyday, and I can feel my German improving already. I had a massive fear of speaking in German, of making mistakes, of embarrassing myself. But in the past week’s worth of classes, I have had to get over that fear so that I can participate, and in the future, use my newfound linguistic confidence to grow as an exchange student and person. There is absolutely no shame in making mistakes in a foreign language. They’re a reminder of your hard work and a foreshadowing of the growth to come. So I’ve learned not to sweat them! I won’t learn if I don’t practice.
Experiences aside, Germany is BEAUTIFUL. Pictures don't do it justice. The past few days, it has been pretty rainy, but a few nights ago, we got to see the most amazing rainbow. It just kept getting more and more vibrant with every minute. There was also a faint second rainbow beside it, which honestly made the moment even more magical. The local town, Bad Laasphe, is full of things to explore and experience. One of the best parts of visiting these places is standing in buildings older than my home country. This place has had life, society, in it for so long, and it’s wonderful to stand here in the footprints of those before us.
Despite all of my doubts before departure, I’m here, and I’m happy. I can already tell how this experience is changing my life for the better. I love the people, and I’m already sad about leaving them when it’s time to depart for our host families, but I’ll see them again soon. They are my CBYX family, and I’m so happy to have found a home with them.
As the saying goes, grow where you’re planted, right?