With my move from Bonn to my new host family this past week, the first portion of my gap year has come to a close and it has given me some perspective to think about my experience during my first two months in Germany. From the moment I first touched down in Germany until now, my time in Bonn has been a whirlwind full of so many fun, exciting, and new experiences that kept me so busy, I didn’t have the chance to think about anything else. From taking up Thursday night swing dancing at the Marktplatz, to running my first 5k in more than four years I stepped out of my comfort zone during my time in Bonn and made incredible memories because of it.
It’s an extremely disorienting experience spending two months in a foreign country with a group of 25 people who you’ve known for two days. What’s even scarier is how close you become in such a short amount of time, going through the same journey together. There would be moments where I’d just take a step back and realize that I barely knew any of the people in my cohort and yet I felt like I had known them my whole life. It was also particularly eye opening to meet people from all across America and hear about their lives. In a program where I was meant to be exploring Germany, during the first two months I found myself learning just as much about the country I had lived my whole life in.
Now that I have settled in with my long term host family, some of the realities of spending a year abroad have started to illuminate themselves to me. It’s very easy to “immerse” yourself in another culture when you are surrounded by 24 other Americans who you speak English with for half of the day and a mentor who can answer any and all of your questions. What’s not so easy is being on your own living in a country that you barely know speaking a foreign language 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Bonn had its bumps along the way, but for all intents and purposes, it was definitely a transitionary stage. Now as I enter into the next phase of my gap year I’m nervous, curious, confused, but most of all excited to see what these new challenges and experiences will bring me.