Today, I had my first full day of orientation activities in Washington D. C. for my Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Study Abroad Scholarship. The program is a partnership between the US and German Governments and provides 500+ students a full immersion opportunity in a foreign culture for a year. More information about the program can be found here: http://www.usagermanyscholarship.org/
We got to take a group picture at the Lincoln Memorial and then go to the U.S. Department of State for a presentation with an Alumni Coordinator, a German Desk Officer, and a few other people.
After that, we drove to Union Square and we had our meetings with a staffer for our congress representative. My meeting went well, and afterwards, I went to lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Finally, we visited the German Embassy before heading to an Austrian cafe for dinner. I concluded the night by finishing my blog and thinking about the days ahead.
My favorite part of the day was by far visiting the German Embassy. It was so cool to see how another country runs a foreign office, and to listen and ask questions of, one of the officers at the embassy.
Photo is the German Embassy in Washington D.C.that my fellow scholarship recipients and I had the opportunity to visit.
There is something particularly special about first times. First love. First car. First day of school.
First times have the potential to change your life and just like your first day of school, you're given that one sacred opportunity to set the tone for the upcoming year. My trip to Spain epitomizes that first time feeling. Traveling to Spain was the first time in my adult life, that I had been able to travel out of the country. It was a complete culture shock. I felt like I was dumped into a foreign land and told "...see you in 30 days," which in essence, was exactly what happened!
Three years ago I went on a study abroad trip to Spain to learn spanish at the University of Salamanca, the oldest university in Spain. No amount of pre-departure notes could have prepared me for this experience (and let's just say I regret blowing off spanish). When I arrived, I had no other choice but to rely on my own hand gestures and other people's apt communication skills while ordering food or interpreting directions. It didn't take long for me to recognize differences in the way the people of Spain lived.
7Stone's Log, StoneDate: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I was born and raised in Southwestern PA, and lived most of my adult life in Ohio. I know what cold weather feels like. I have lived in San Diego the past 15 years. It rarely gets below 50 degrees, let alone 40 or 30. You get used to the warm climate and the blood gets thicker. I am currently working in Martinsburg, WV, and it is December and it is in the low 30s with strong winds and just enough precipitation to intensify the cold chill. There is no restaurant in the Hampton Inn. So besides traveling to the work-site each day I have to travel about for lunch and dinner (Hampton Inn does provide a free breakfast).
All last week I was in St. Louis and it was almost as cold, but I was staying and working in a Hilton downtown by the Cardinals ballpark, so it wasn't nearly as bad - didn't even have to go outside to find food. I got home last Friday night, and left again Sunday morning for WV but with a terrible cold and soar throat. Flew from San Diego to Washington DC on United, upon which I have no status. Then I had to catch a small, 8-seat, 2-propeller plane operated by Sun Air/Pacific Wings to Hagerstown, MD. Well, my checked bag arrived with me in Hagerstown, but my rental car keys were not left for me at the airline counter as promised by the rental car company at the airport. They closed at 2 pm on Sunday and I arrived at 6:30 pm. I called Friday to remind them and they assured me everything would be ready for me when I arrived. Luckily I was able to call a cab company that was willing to drive me to Martinsburg. I was at the Hampton Inn by 8 pm, but found that my company booked the room for the wrong person. After a bit of confusion I was in my room. I called a local cab company to reserve a ride to my work-site for Monday morning, and then went to bed.
Monday morning my cab did not arrive. When I called their number their voice mailbox was full. Luckily someone at the work-site was able to pick me up. I found there was a rental car company in Martinsburg - Enterprise. They picked me up at the work-site at noon and took me to their center and within a half hour I was in my car heading for lunch and then back to work. Enterprise let me return the car to their Hagerstown center, and agreed to take me to the airport. I was set for the week.
7Stone's Log, StoneDate: Friday, December 12, 2014