CBYX 2014 – 2015 participant, Mary D., reflects on her growth in Germany with the CBYX program.
Taking the first step is never easy, but CBYX helped me make it. It gave me the tools I needed to get myself out there and open up to the world of people, sights, and emotions. Never have I experienced something so enriching and mind blowing as being an exchange student. I have also never really gotten this close to understanding people before. The people I interact with on a daily basis are so open, I can now understand where their cultural context is coming from, even though I may have just met them. I owe this skill largely to CBYX. Not only have I met people from all over the world, but I have also had deep moments or conversations with people from every generation.
I cannot imagine my life without knowing the German language anymore. It seems absurd, strange, and almost impossible that just a few months ago I wasn’t able to communicate with the people who have become such a huge part of my life. I wouldn't have been able to laugh with my host mom or cheer on my Judo class when we play soccer. I am going to really miss these things, but I am so glad that I have gotten to experience them. I would do the whole year again if I could.
Experiencing more independence in Germany has also helped me figure out who I am and how I want to spend my life. I have realized how fast a year goes by, and I want to keep living my life with adventures and mind changing experiences. Before I came here, I had no idea what I wanted to study in college, or what kind of career I was interested in. I had no clue. Now, I have a solid picture in my head of what I want to accomplish.
It’s true what they say about student exchange changing your life forever. My life will never be what it was. Too much has changed for the better. I am much more outgoing and confident than I was before CBYX and I now have a list of things I am planning to do, such as explore the United States (I never realized how little I have seen of my own country), join the Peace Corps, and get my bachelor’s degree in law and environmental studies. And of course I plan on coming back to Germany many times.
I am so grateful for The CBYX program. Without it, I would never have been able to come on exchange.
And it is completely true what that say: I have gained a new family. Actually, I've gained a new community: a school full of students and teachers; friends of my host family, now close friends of mine too; and my Judo class, which is like a small family of its own. There is so much love around me that I never could have felt without the CBYX program.
Thank you CBYX for giving me the best year of my life!