Introducing Myself!

Authored by:
River H.

River H.

Hello everyone! Since this is my first ever blog for CBYX, I thought I would start out by introducing myself. My name is River Harper, I'm 18 years old, and I live in Atlanta, GA. My main interests are golf, politics, and everything revolving around the world of sports. I've been the captain of my school's golf team for the past three years and I've led my team to back to back region championships. I've been learning German for ten years, and my main motivation for wanting to spend a year abroad in Germany was meeting my friend, Noah. He was an exchange student from Germany who went to my school for an entire year, and I met him through the golf team. I was immediately inspired by how well he had integrated himself into my school's population, how good his English was, and how easy it was for him to talk to complete strangers from a foreign country in a non-native tongue. Even though it's been about two years since he was here, I remember many experiences that I had with him like it was yesterday, and I'll likely remember them for the rest of my life.

Even though I might not be able to completely replicate Noah's success as an outgoing, friendly, and energetic exchange student, I do plan on trying to be the best version of myself while in Germany. What does this mean, exactly? My goals for this year are very simple: talk to and meet as many new people as I can, show my peers in Germany that there is much more to America than meets the eye, and make lifelong friendships among the people in my host family, peers at school, and in my local community in Germany. After seeing what it was like to be an exchange student from the outside, be it from Noah or the numerous other students from Germany who have spent time at my high school, I feel like these three things are the most important practices that someone can employ while going abroad. If you are thinking about applying for CBYX and are looking for advice, the one piece of advice that I will share here is this: just be yourself and make sure to have fun on your application and while in Germany, if you make it that far. If you stay true to yourself and truly believe in who you are as a person, get good grades, and impress with your strongest attributes as a person, the rest will take care of itself and you'll be on a plane to Germany for absolutely free (just like me in 50 days!).

One of the things I've most noticed during my brief time spent interacting with the other CBYX finalists is that we are a very politically-minded and thoughtful group. I personally first remember becoming interested in politics all the way back when I was nine or ten years old, when the country experienced one of its most historical moments ever and elected its first ever black president. Although I didn't really understand what that meant as far as history was concerned at the time, I think that 20, 30, or even 40 years from now, we will all look back on this time that we are currently in and remark at how historically significant it is, especially considering how our country is the most divided it's been since the Civil War, over 150 years ago. Because I consider myself to be very politically active and engaged, I plan on spending a large portion of my time Germany talking to people my age about our current political situation, with the hope of educating them more and showing that it is much more nuanced and complicated than the black-and-white narrative that is so prevalent, especially outside of the United States.

With all of that being said, I certainly do have my work cut out for me! It will definitely be an eventful and fun-packed year, especially with the amazing group of students that CIEE has assembled. Getting accepted into the program is only part one of the journey; there will be many more adventures to come!

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