My name is Katherine, and I will be completing my senior year in Germany with the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange.
I live in Northern Utah, though I culturally identify as a Minnesotan. My mother is from Minnesota, and growing up I spent most of my summers up North. Minnesota is also where I began my “journey” to this exchange year, as I first started learning German with Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji. In both Utah and Minnesota, I’ve been fortunate to encounter German through language immersion and cultural activities.
This is my second year with CIEE; I also participated in the CBYX 20-21 program, which was held virtually due to COVID-19. Through the virtual program, I was able to meet students from all corners of Germany, many of whom have become my closest friends. Though I haven’t set foot in Germany yet, I have formed meaningful connections and made good memories through CIEE thus far, and I am excited to continue to do so this year.
One aspect of CBYX that I wasn’t able to experience last year was that of a host family; I did not receive a placement before the program was moved online. Consequently, I was especially eager to receive a placement this year. When I was introduced to my host family for the first time, I was thrilled. Lately we’ve been talking on Whatsapp, exchanging photos and the details of our days. I am so excited to see them later this month and give them each a huge hug.
In a little less than two weeks, I will move in with my host family in Oldenburg, roughly 50 kilometers from Bremen. My mom and I have spent a lot of time looking at photos of Oldenburg -- I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling amazed by the city. Oldenburg is home to canals, historic architecture, and gorgeous parks, and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to live there.
One thing I hear often when speaking to CBYX alumni is that an exchange year is what you make of it. As I prepare to leave my country, family, and native language, I’d like to set the intention to be present. I’ve been given an incredible opportunity, and I want to take as much of it in as I can.
These are the basics, but going forward, I hope that what I write gives you a glimpse into my exchange year. Just as I am sharing what I love about America with my German peers, I am excited to share with you the things I love about my second home.
Bis zum nächsten Mal,