Hallo zusammen! I think the easiest way to start out is by saying that this summer has honestly been one of the most exciting, but anxious periods in my whole life! Waiting for the year abroad is very hard, but good preparation before you go will definitely lead to a more successful year abroad!
However, one of the hardest parts about the entire year is definitely saying goodbye to your family for ten months, but I think that after the year, the relationships with my family members will be even better because of the growth that everyone will experience while I am gone. The best piece of advice I can give after being abroad for extended periods of time already is to not always be on the phone with your family 24/7, because in the end that will just mean that you will miss them even more. Try to call or Skype with them once every week or every two weeks, and you will see them again in no time!
Our three day pre-departure seminar was one of the main highlights; getting to walk around one of the most beautiful cities in America with 99 of your best friends was something that I'll never forget. The trip consisted of a visit to the State Department, where we got to participate in a really exciting and interactive "diplomatic situation", as well as listen to presentations from current and past diplomats who all had significant experience in the field that we will all be working in this year, which is cultural exchange. Afterwards, we got to see the coolest monuments in DC and then go to Hard Rock Cafe to cap it all off!
On the last day of DC Orientation, we had a few final prep meetings and seminars, as well as discussions in small groups. These small groups are critical in DC as well as in language camp because they give you an opportunity to get close to a great group of people while also talking about what's on your mind in a welcoming, accepting environment. I think the first time it actually felt real that I was going to Germany for a year was when I was handed my plane ticket on the way to the airport! Perfect timing!
After a long, grueling flight across the pond to Germany (some CBYXers had never been on a plane before!), we had an equally grueling bus ride to language camp, but it was well worth it in the end! I will talk more about language camp in a future post, so stay tuned! Bis bald!