Remember the YFU pre-departure orientation back in New York?
Imagine that. But again.
As completely exhausted sleep-deprived world-hopping exchange students, we (and the Indian exchange students who arrived after us) were all praying for some time to rest when we finally reached the youth hostel. No such thing, baby! YFU decided to get us started right away. As soon as we arrived we ate lunch and began our “workshops.”
And what were these workshops? Why, the exact same thing as in America. Not that the information was any less useful or irrelevant, it’s just that I’ve already heard it before.
Though it was no fault of the people who ran the programs. We were met at the airport by five young late teen/twenty-something YFU alumni, all of whom knew English and several who have traveled to multiple countries. They tried their best to make the presentations interactive and engaging. Their favorite thing was “energizers,” better known in my place as icebreakers, which basically consisted of making the kids do ridiculous dances and sing songs together.
So those, at least, were mildly entertaining. Still, it doesn’t take an hour to discuss the fact that you’re moving to a different culture and then another hour to discuss that you should be a good exchange student. All of the kids were essentially passed out for most of the workshops. Even worse, on the last full day of orientation (Saturday) the workshops ran until 12. At night. As in midnight. Yeah. I don’t think anyone was fully conscious at that point.
But there’s always gotta be some good with the bad, right? Out of our 48 hours here, YFU decided that at least 4 hours didn’t have to go to waste. On Saturday afternoon, after a lengthy debriefing on how to use Berlin subways and the distribution of maps, the exchange kids were allowed to roam free for 4 hours. And that was awesome. More to come later.
But tomorrow (well, today, since it’s about 2 in the morning) is the day! I travel to my host family on a lengthy train ride (from one side of Germany to the other!) but I am soooo stoked to meet them. Hopefully I don’t miss my train! Until next time!
—written Sunday, June 26th, at 2:15 AM at the Berlin youth hostel—