On Thursday, I officially left Minnesota to start my exchange program by attending a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C.! Saying goodbye to my friends and family was difficult (it didn’t help that I had to wake up at 2:15 a.m. to go to the airport), but I was beyond excited to meet all of the other CBYXers in a few short hours.
When we landed, we were taken to a hotel near the airport and introduced ourselves to the other CBYXers. It was a lot of fun to talk about our plane rides, host families, and feelings about the upcoming year. We had a few orientation sessions, but then we went to get some sleep. On Friday, we drove into Washington, D.C. to meet the Department of State. I really enjoyed learning about life as a diplomat, and it was great to hear their excitement for us as we were about to embark on our exchange year! I also loved seeing the monuments in D.C.; I had never been there before, so I was able to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the MLK Jr. Monument, and the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I saw the hat that Abraham Lincoln wore when he was shot, the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, and the original Star Spangled Banner!
After dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, we drove back to the hotel. That night, we organized our luggage, weighed our bags, and tried to get some sleep for the big day ahead. On Saturday morning, we ate breakfast and had some last-minute discussions before leaving for the airport. Loading our bags into the coach bus felt surreal; it was hard to imagine that we were one plane ride away from being in Germany.
We arrived in Germany today at around 5:00 a.m., and all of us were super tired from the long plane ride! We still had a long bus ride to language camp in Hedersleben waiting for us, though. Most of us ended up taking a short (or very long) nap on the bus, but we’re still exhausted from the busy days that we’ve had. Our first day in Germany is almost over, however! We spent the day getting adjusted to Kloster Hedersleben and meeting the Partnership International team, who are super nice. Tomorrow, we begin German classes and activities, so we’ll definitely need some sleep in order to function! I can’t wait to begin learning more German with my fellow CBYXers and seeing what other activities we have in store.