Sunday, July 1, 2012


   Tuesday felt like the true beginning of my exchange. Why? Because it was the national Pre-Departure Orientation in Washington DC!

    The three and a half days spent there were incredibly useful. We spent probably 24 or more hours in a beige, windowless room, discussing how our exchange could be the most successful exchange ever. True, at times it was long and you felt the already light tan slipping away, but looking back at my notes, I know this will help me indefinitely. All things discussed were the simple basics of how to communicate to health, safety, and rough times. At one point, capital punishment was brought up! Ok, that was just a minor mixup from one of the program coordinators, Allen, who was warning us about the possibility of seeing CORPORAL punishment out in the streets... yeah, he accidentally said capital. The room fell even more silent than before as we gaped at him with horror. Capital punishment means death. We'd see people die in the streets!? Then one of the girls in my group (I think it was Emma?) said, "Do you mean corporal?" Allen instantly realized what he said making him bury his face into his hand, laughing, causing the entire room of 53 future exchange students plus staff fall into a fit of hysterical laughter.
    Another somewhat funny story was that Allen mentioned this was a competition. I then decided to announce (well. Just say loudly. I only meant for the SHAKE girls to hear it.) that the Bosnian girls already won. I mean, we look like sisters, we dressed in Bosnian colors the first day, AND we are the guinea pigs. Meaning, we are the first people to go to Bosnia with YES Abroad. Win.
Emma, Savannah, and Helena in their Bosnian garb 
    Not to mention that SHAKE was probably the most obnoxious group there... and our name acronym could also be KESHA which Savannah and I figured out when we were trying to see if we only had a group of four, what could our acronym be.
    PLUS! Lots of people brought stickers which made me extremely happy because at IPSE, only Olivia and I did, meaning we only saw dinosaurs and Disney. This time we had animals, jewels, Toy Story, travel, dinos, flowers, Pokemon, and tons of other ones resulting in a very fun to look at handbook. And a little embarrassing when we visited the Department of State, American Councils, and the Embassy.
    Speaking of which, the Bosnian Embassy served us a wonderful Bosnian meal, complete with cevapcici (pronounced che-vap-chee-chee) and baklava! I think I made the Bosnian ambassador very happy when I got excited they were serving baklava. Selena, who helped us a lot with our initial Bosnian language help (Hvala means thank you), told us we could grab some baklava and I was the first to jump up and act, I suppose, not very professional, when I said, "I love baklava!" like some giddy 12 year old. But the two Bosnian men and Selena seemed excited that I was already in love with their food, so perhaps it was alright.
    After the American Councils, Embassy, and State Department visits we headed for the Lincoln Memorial where this lovely picture of all the YES Abroad Students was taken:
YES Abroad 2012-2013
    On the way walking to the memorial, Emma, myself, and others began singing random songs as loudly as we could because we some how ended up leading the group to the memorial. Pretty much, we were just acting like dorks, but it was so entertaining. We were able to chill for a moment and just hang out in the shade of the Lincoln Memorial which led to some awesome photos, courtesy of Sara. But I'll leave those on my Facebook. In short, Thursday was full of information and hanging out, and getting away from the Windowless Room. And we also got to witness Allen's bright blue argyle socks that he wore to the State Department.

     On Friday, when we said goodbye to Skye, our group leader because there was no alumni, she said, "I'll see you in six weeks!" Believe you me, I totally didn't realize this. All this time I had just been excited and being like, "I am ready to go!" But when Skye announced that we were six weeks away from going, the nervousness hit me. My lack of knowledge of the language, the uncertainty of my unknown host family, everything. I'm still excited, but it is mixed with so many other emotions, I don't even know what's going on. Six weeks though and I'm off to Bosnia with Savannah, Helena, Emma, and Anna. I am so happy that we all got along really well at the PDO. I might have died if we didn't.

    But now, I leave you with my thanks to YES Abroad once again for putting on an excellent event. I enjoyed getting to know my table group and I loved seeing all the other countries for one last time. You are all truly amazing and I will miss you. This is the beginning of all of our adventures and even if I'm only sharing it with you on Facebook and blogs, I am so happy to be a part of this.
SHOCK looking classy (l-r, Sara, Olivia, Carly, myself, and Hannah)
SHAKE (l-r Helena, myself, Savannah, Emma, Anna, and Selena)
    Anyway, I better be off to bed. It's way too late and I'm still on DC time which is three hours ahead.

    Until I have more information which will hopefully be soon.


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