Day Two – August 12th, 2016
In the morning at 6:30-7:30, we were scheduled to have breakfast with the German students in the PPP program. My room mate and I came in five minutes before it ended (but we were not the last people there) because our alarms did not go off. So we woke up an hour later than we planned to. I scrambled quickly to get ready once I realize what time it was and then woke up my room mate when I was finished getting myself ready in ten minutes. Since we were going to the White House, we had to dress a little fancier than usual and that kind of translated into a longer time to get ready. So I waited for my friend to get ready and we sped walked to the breakfast room.
As we arrived, we quickly got our breakfast and scoped around for a table to sit at. And luckily, we found one quickly! We sat down, talked and quickly ate our foods (I think I almost choked at one point haha).
Anyways, lets just say that we were not quite prepared for the long day ahead of us.
It was extremely hot and everyone’s energy was slowly depleting throughout the day. Before we left, we took a group picture with the PPP students.
After the group photo, we said our goodbyes to the German students and began piling onto the large tour bus. Our first stop was the Air force Memorial. We got to see a bit of D.C. from a higher perspective.
Then, we went to another memorial near the Pentagon. Afterwards, we went to the White House, after about 30 minutes of security checks for the whole group, and walked around, viewing the many interesting rooms in the White House. I was really excited to the White House and enjoyed it a lot. After I left the White House, my friend Junnie and I took a picture with one of the secret service guys standing outside of the White House. He took pictures with several of the other CBYX students as well. We also waited for everyone to finish up with their tours and took a group photo at the end.
The heat was really hitting us and everyone was internally suffering. We were told that at lunch break at the mall, we were allowed to change. As soon as we got there, Junnie and I sped walked to find the restroom to change out of our formal clothes into more weather-appropriate clothes that were more comfortable for us. Afterwards, we ate lunch at the mall with a group of CBYX students at a long table and then piled onto the bus to head to our next destination.
Our first stop was the Smithsonian Museum of American History and we were given a time limit of 3 hours, which seemed a lot at first. As I explored the museum with a small group of friends, the hours seem to trickle by so quickly. We tried our best to explore all the parts of the museum and we managed to explored most of it. There were so many interesting see. Towards the end of the museum visit, we heard someone talk about a vintage bicycle that you could sit on and take pictures. We were interested in finding it so we retraced our steps and spent 20-30 minutes looking around for it and we thought that it would be a lost cause but we were able to find it with 20 minutes left to spare! We found the bicycles and took picture with it. I even almost forgot my glasses as I placed them down and at the last minute, I remembered that I forgot them. Afterwards, we went to the museum’s gift shop and looked around. Then we headed off to the meeting point and one of the CBYX students, Virginia, had received news of her permanent host family placement! We were all excited for her!
As the museum visit ended, we headed off with a tour guide to visit several other memorials such as the Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Theodore Roosevelt memorials. It was a great experience but we were all emotionally and physically drained because of the high temperatures and heat this particular day.
After the tours, we got to explore and visit an old and historic town named Old Alexandria. We were first dropped off at a restaurant and got to eat dinner with a selection of vegetarian, steak, chicken or pork (which we selected in a survey a few weeks before we departed). We were allowed to pick our own tables and at first we had chosen a booth but it was swarmed by bugs flying everywhere, so we decided to make a switch to a table near a window. And then we had the option of getting brownies for dessert, but most people had chosen to explore the town instead, so that is what we did as well. The town had a warm and cozy vibe with many unique shops and local boutiques. We were told to travel in groups of three and we decided, as a table, that we should go together. So Junnie, Sophia, Jared and I went off and explored Old Alexandria. We found a little gelato shop and each of ordered something. We sat at the table and started talking about the program. Several minutes later, a group of CBYX students come in and sits with us, they were Matthew, Calvin and Joe. As we finished, we all together as a combined group, started to explore more of the town and as the guys walked further, the girls saw a boutique and decided to check out the shops.
After the boutiques, we went to our meet up place and it was near a beautiful fountain, and many other CBYX students were taking pictures as the sun was starting to set.
We all piled onto the bus but two students were a little late (approximately 10-15 minutes) because they were lost and we were all a little worried for them. However, as they both arrived onto the bus, some people slowly clapped for them to applaud them.
Shortly after, we arrived at the hotel and a small group of people went to the pool and swam until the pool’s closing time.
Day Three – Saturday, August 13th
So this day is the day we departed for Germany.
In the morning, my room mate and I scrambled to get ready. We wore our orange CIEE shirts. We made sure everything was packed and that we weren’t missing anything. I have this tradition of filming the rooms that I have stayed in right before I leave on every trip I have been on. As I was doing so, my room mate was freaking out a little bit and rushed me because she was afraid that we were late to meet up with everyone else in the room where we stored our suitcases.
As we quickly made our way to the first floor, where our meeting area was located, we noticed that we were one of the early ones there and wait about 20 minutes for everyone until breakfast was ready.
As we finished with breakfast, we were able to ask the alumni panel questions and hear about their experiences. We also were separated into pre-organized groups to ask the alumni questions one on one.
Afterwards, we received some papers and filled them out. Then we headed to take one last group photo in the U.S. and piled onto two big buses that took us to the Dulles airport.
We arrived at the airport and went to the United section to check in our luggages and get our tickets. I was closer to the end of the line of 50 students. I watched my friends check their bags and hoped that it would be a quick and easy process for all of them. Sadly, this was not the case as some of the bags were over 50 lbs, so they had to reorganize the remaining pounds into their carry ons.
Afterwards, we were sorted into groups of five CBYX students and one of the CBYX alumni to go through the security line. Somehow I got moved to a quicker line and was separated from my group; however, I found another group of people and helped them quickly go through the security line with me. As soon as I finished placing my items into the designated bins, I helped the rest of my friends placed their items into the bins so we could quickly get through the line. At this very moment, I felt like a mother hen 🙂
We were the first group to be done with the security check and we waited for everyone else to finish before we moved to the gate. Then everyone crammed onto a tram and we were transported to our terminal. As soon as we arrived at our terminal, we walked to our gate and settled in. When we were done, we were allowed to explore the airport terminal and buy snacks.
I went with Junnie and explored around, but there were not many shops in this section of the airport. We eventually ended up going to Starbucks and I got a strawberry and creme frappuccino and a cheese danish. Then we went to a snack store and I bought some Reese’s to share with my host family because I learned that it was a scarce item in Germany.
When we were finished with our mini shopping adventure, we returned to our gate and played uno.
It was finally time for boarding the plane and we were all excited. As we got onto the plane, some of us were surprised that we were placed in the comfort plus section. It was such a nice surprise as there was extra leg room and larger seats for the eight hour plane ride. We were organized into alphabetical order with our last names. I was ecstatic to find that I had the window seat!
Our plane was delayed for an hour because there was an absent passenger but their luggage was on the plane, so they had to remove it before we were allowed to depart.
My plane mates were Zac and Michelle, who were from the Virginia interviews and I have not had the opportunity to talk to them yet. Soon, we departed and went to Dulles airport. During the flight, I got to talk to Zac and Michelle and they were so friendly and nice. My plan was to sleep during most of the flight, but that proved to be a failure as I only had an hour or two of sleep maximum. Even so, I did get to watch part of Deadpool and eat caramel ice cream.