This past week, I met up with the other CBYXers in Cologne for our Mid-Year Orientation. It was great to see everyone again; I couldn’t believe that it had been four months since we last saw each other. I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories and sharing our exchange experiences thus far.
We had lots of seminars during the five days of the orientation, with topics ranging from Brexit to venting about Germany. We also spent a day in Cologne, where I got to see the Cologne Cathedral and climb the 533 steps to the top (that was a workout!). In Cologne, we visited an old Gestapo prison, which I found really interesting. We were able to visit the cells and see what the prisoners had written on the walls, and even though I had learned about things like this in history class, seeing the exact words that prisoners had written made a much bigger impact. We also visited the Haus der Geschichte (House of History) in Bonn, and there we were shown different primary artifacts from Germany’s past. It’s definitely interesting to see first-hand the things I had learned about in my American textbooks.
In Bonn, we also met with the mayor and got to explore the city. I even got to see the house where Beethoven was born! Overall, it was nice to see different German cities besides the one I live in, but I also greatly enjoyed the time I was able to spend with my other fellow exchange students. It’s so crazy how even though each of us have had such unique exchanges, we could nevertheless relate to one another’s struggles, complaints, and triumphs.
I can’t believe that my exchange year is already halfway over. These past five months have brought me a lot of new challenges, but also so many amazing experiences. During one of the seminars, one of the teamers told us to close our eyes and take a minute to think about what we had done during the first half of our exchange, and I couldn’t help but smile thinking about the beautiful memories that I now have. I’ve seen and done so many amazing things, and I have so much waiting for me in the upcoming five months. There’s a lot I still want to do and not a lot of time to do it, but I’m looking forward to making the most of the time I have left. I can’t wait to find out what the next half of my exchange has in store; if it’s even half as good as the first half, then I have quite an adventure ahead.
Until next time,