I held the application in my hand; the person in the glossy photo smiled up at me. The girl in the photo was to become my German exchange partner. After months of e-mailing back and forth, the excitement and anticipation to meet had really built up. She and fifteen other students from her school were coming to my high school to stay with other students and their families.
In late March of last year, we boarded a bus headed to Boston Logan airport to pick up our partners. The bus ride was filled with suspense. How would we make conversation? What were they really like? These questions were whizzing through my mind as I watched rain splashing against the bus windows; an hour after we arrived at the airport, the group of Germans emerged from customs and into the terminal where we waited with eager anticipation.
During their three week stay in our homes and at our school, the strangers became our best friends while earning a place in our families. Their presence reminded me of the vast world that exists outside my own and my role as an active part in that global community. The smiling face in the glossy photo had become my “sister” and best friend. The bond that formed between our two groups is inspiring and has influenced my views of society and human relationships.
At long last, June arrived, and with it and the opportunity to visit our exchange partners in Germany. From the time of their departure just two months prior there was much planning and growing excitement. On June 16th, 2011, while every other student was getting ready for final exams, our group boarded a greyhound bus to J.F.K airport. After hours of driving, and flying, we arrived. I was extremely tired, but my excitement kept me alert. We had stepped out of the plane and into our new lives for the next three weeks. We were all faced with the trepidation of having to live in a new country, with a new family, while going to a new school, and communicating in a different language. It was the ultimate test of my character and my knowledge.
During those three weeks in Germany, I learned a great deal, not only about the country itself, but about others and myself. Living in this completely new environment, I learned to adapt to and face new challenges with a positive attitude. It opened my eyes to the views of another culture and country. My perspectives changed as I learned about the various ways that different people view things. That experience peaked my interest in other languages and my curiosity to learn about the world in which I live. The exchange was one of the greatest things that I have ever experienced. It had a huge impact on my life and positively changed my character, my perspectives, my aspirations, and ambitions.