Berivan weekly - BFTF (a bumpy start)

Bericht von START-Wien Stipendiatin Berivan von ihrem USA-Aufenthalt im Rahmen des Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Programs 2023.  

Zu danken für diesen Austausch ist US Embassy Vienna, welche bereits langjährig dieses einzigartige Programm auch für unsere Stipendiat:innen ermöglichen. 



My name is Berivan Güngör, I‘m taking part in a program that is called „BFTF“. I can’t really tell you about the first 3 days of the program. Let me tell you why. Let‘s start with first two days, which I would also consider to be the most nerve-wracking days of my life.

My planned travel was Vienna- Frankfurt. In Frankfurt, I met the Chaperone and some other Fellows. From Frankfurt the destination was Newark; from there it was supposed to be Indianapolis. Notice how said it was supposed to be? The travel didn’t go as smoothly as planned. We arrived in Newark at 2 pm, and our flight to Indianapolis was at 5 pm. The Airport was really big, so we spent our time walking and it felt like this airport didn‘t have an end. We ate, talked, and played games. Meeting these Fellows gave me a foretaste of what the next 4 weeks could look like. We talked about how fun it would be and how excited we were. Then we heard about the plane having a delay. It wasn‘t a problem so instead of 5 pm it was now at 8 pm. Those 3 hours turned to 4 hours, 4 hours to 5 hours, then 6, and finally canceled. Our flight was canceled. That was also not a problem. Manageable. We could talk to customer service and get the soonest next flight to Indianapolis. Wrong. Not only our flight was canceled but also those of hundreds of people. So, we waited in a queue. At 3 am it was finally our turn. The lady at the airport handed out tickets to our group. My flight was on Sunday afternoon. Hotels were either overbooked or too expensive. People started handing out lounge chairs, which we then used as beds. 

Suddenly the airport which we thought had no end seemed like a small room in which we were trapped. Sunday afternoon finally arrived, sadly my flight was canceled again. However, we decided to try flying standby. Our hopes were not high. Our flight was at 7 pm. It got delayed.  At this point, my flights were all viewed as “canceled”. The thought of the flight being canceled again scared me a lot. Luckily, the delay made other people unsure as well and they left the airport instead of waiting.  4 of 5 Standby Fellows made it into the plane and I was one of them. My friend and I cried tears of joy.

We arrived in Indianapolis at 3 am and then another problem occurred. My suitcase was not there. It arrived on Wednesday. So, 2/3 days after my arrival. So we got there by Monday but I didn’t take part in the classes on Monday. I was really exhausted so I decided to rest. While doing that my mind wandered to the people who were still at the airport, missing their beds and wanting a shower. It was said they would be arriving on Monday evening by bus. And they did! Seeing these people whom I bonded with in such an unexpected way made me very happy. We hugged and talked a bit. 

On Tuesday we had lectures about democratic citizenship. We got to know each other and the small fear of being excluded by the other half of the group after they spent 2 days together without us suddenly disappeared. We felt welcome. On Wednesday and Thursday the country presentations took place. It was awesome. Here are some pictures where you can see the highlights.


On Thursday we also celebrated birthdays and on the same day and Friday, our lectures were about Media and Journalism (see the pictures below).

On the weekend we tried to get to know the city a little better and discovered a nice bookstore! We also went shopping and it was lots of fun.  

The first few days were hard to get through but those made me appreciate the upcoming weeks even more. Things could only get better from then on. I am happy to be here, I am really thankful for this amazing opportunity, and I am looking forward to giving you more updates. THANK YOU!

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