As of last Monday, I have completed 25% of my exchange year. Those eighty-one days have bounced me around from Washington, D.C., to language camp, to my host community, and everywhere in between. I’ve seen countless tourist attractions and landmarks, eaten foods I didn’t even know existed, and had some amazing experiences. I’ve played in two concerts, joined three orchestras, taken two exams, read an entire book in German, and figured out how to take a bus by myself, among countless others.
I’ve also met so many amazing people who are inspiring, welcoming, and supportive. My fellow exchange students, my German friends, and my host family have made the first quarter of this experience so much easier. Of course, my friends and family back home have helped a lot, too. As much as I miss them, I still feel connected when I share what’s going on in my life here, and their support helps tremendously.
At this point, I’ve found myself falling into a routine in my host community. Every morning, I wake up at 6:00 a.m., take the bus, go to school, come home, practice my violin, eat supper, and go to bed. However, my routine is anything but mundane. I love seeing the different sunrises as the bus heads into the city in the morning. I love going to each class and trying to absorb as much information as possible, even if I don’t understand what’s going on all the time. I love trying to speak German and learning so many new words that I think there’s no way I could possibly remember them all. I love eating the different lactose-free cheeses and trying the various types of bread. Everyday I learn and try something new.
I can’t believe that a quarter of my exchange is already behind me, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come in those eighty-one days since I waved goodbye to my family and hopped on an airplane. Every experience has helped me grow and learn, and I’ve had a lot of fun in the meantime. With that being said, I’m excited to see what the next three-quarters of this journey have to offer!