One of the best things to come out of my exchange year this year has been the community I’ve found with my fellow exchange students. Right before flying to Germany, an alumni told us, “You guys are gonna get a lot closer this month,” which could not have been truer. After a month of living together, discovering Germany together, and delving into German together, it wasn’t difficult for us to form close bonds. Even though January seemed a lifetime away, once we went to our host families in September, I was looking forward to our mid-year seminar, when I could finally see everyone together again.
Time flew, and Monday last week I was sitting in a room with a circle of 49 chairs and 5 teamers. Being with everyone once again felt almost like coming home. The room was filled with reunions, jokes, and laughter.
The seminar lasted six days, with a similar schedule to language camp (minus the language classes). We reunited with our small groups and talked about our experiences up until then, the problems we had encountered and the triumphs we achieved. Although my situation was a little different because I was about to change host families and host communities, I learned strategies and got advice that I can employ in my new life here.
We stayed in a youth hostel just outside of Bonn, so on Friday, we took the train into the city! Bonn is where the Experiment e.V. office is located, so that was our first stop. We got to see the offices of the people who help us every day, and took lots of group photos. Two students who live in the Bonn area prepared a tour of the most important spots in the city for us. Bonn is full of history and culture, so there was lots to see. Afterwards, we got free time to walk around with our groups for the rest of the day! My group’s first goal was the Haribo store. Haribo originates in Bonn, and in the massive storethere, you can find tons of varieties that not only don’t exist in America, but ones that you can’t get anywhere else in Germany! I highly recommend a stop if you’re a Haribo lover.
Although our goodbyes were sad (just like they were in September), this time they were a little easier because we didn’t have quite as many worries as we did four months ago. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to catch up with everyone again, and I can’t wait to see what else we’ve accomplished when we reunite in May!