Monday morning, we said goodbye to our host families. Soon we went to Philadelphia. We drove about 15 hours by bus, of course small breaks were included. Arrived hungry and tired, we ate in a restaurant. I think that’s where our Philly adventure began. I don’t know if the food tasted good to others, but my table received special meal (friends who sat with me know what I’m talking about). Then we went to the HOTEL!
So, at this point there is a lot to tell: I shared my room with my previous Roommate. I must admit my room was really good. To ensure the safety of all Fellows, we decided to stay in groups and so it was. For example, 1 room, 2 beds and 8 people. Actually, a lot happened that evening, but I want to keep it as short as possible. In my opinion, that evening was very adventurous. All Fellows know what I’m talking about.
The next day we went to the Hop on Hop off Philly Tour. All the most important and historical sites, including Ben Franklin House and National Constitution Center, were visited. In my free time, I went to Chinatown with my friends. It is a recommendation. After our wonderful day we drove to D.C. We resided at Georgetown University. Again, you had to stay with your old Roommate (my best friend).
The next day, Wednesday, we went to the US Capitol. There we had a cool tour. After that, we were in the Holocaust Museum. It’s the best museum I’ve ever visited. Again, small groups formed and went to the sights: Washington Memorial, White House, Hard Rock Cafe, FBI Headquarters, etc.. We got to campus late in the evening, but with obstacles (Google Maps; the people, who were with me, know).
The next day was very important because we had a meeting at the US Department of State. We met the people who made BFTF possible. We also had talks with diplomats and ambassadors. After the event we went to the Kennedy Center to see the performance of Blue Man Group. A great action. Friday, the last day in both D.C. and the USA. Each of us made good use of the day to do everything that needs to be done. Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater (where President was shot), Smithsonian National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, Shopping Center, and DC Walking Tour. If I had to rank the cities, I would put DC at number 1 spot. The city has so much to offer that it would take days to discover the whole city.
The last three nights we hardly slept, because firstly everyone wanted to spend time with others and secondly everyone created a friend-book in which everyone must write. Now imagine when 53 people write in all notebooks. That takes plenty of energy. Friday evening and Saturday morning, two of our friends left. At this point, everyone felt what was to come. Then in DC, when the group split up, our emotions overwhelmed us. Hugs, messages in the ears, holding hands, all this could be seen by the people at the airport. After the group split up again in Frankfurt, nothing changed in the situation.
Now I want to mention two things, that I forgot to do in my last blogs. In the first two weeks of BFTF we had this early 15 minutes session of „Uncle Ben says“. In this time, you learn something special about Ben Franklin. We had to interpret one of his quotes and associate it with our program or learn about his virtues.
The second thing is: OUR basement. Yes, I literally mean our basement. After 11 o´clock all boys would gather there and play cards, watch movies, discuss some philosophical topics (I´m serious) and some other stuff (Boys know). After a while other BFTF Fellows took over our basement and we had to share it. Basically, there were nights we didn´t sleep at all. We would talk till 7 in the morning.
What BFTF has taught me?
Well, it´s easy to explain this to someone in a conversation. Writing it down is difficult.
First of all, Asta, one of our mentors, told us on the very first day: “Get out of your comfort zone.” I believe my comfort zone has expanded. My mindset has changed. My perspectives have changed. The way I see the world has changed. Every mentor has contributed to make that happen. Therefore, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.“
Now I would like to talk about 52 amazing, extraordinary, creative people. While writing I´m thinking about where to start. These people have become my best friends, although I´ve met them 4 weeks ago. I´ve learned about them so much. Their strengths and weaknesses, personalities, emotions, etc. They also contributed to my growth, and they played an essential part.
There are people you get along with better than anyone else. I´m not going to mention their name, however they´ll know, if they feel the same: You have shown me the path, you annoyed me, you made me laugh, you assisted me always, you had a great conversation with me, you expressed your concerns and feelings to me and you gave me hope that one day you and I will meet again.
Last but not least it´s not a goodbye, but it´s a SEE YOU SOON.
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other´s worth.”
Credits:I would like to thank START Scholarship program for recommending me for this fantastic exchange program. In addition, a big thank you goes to the US Embassy Vienna, who gave everything to get me to this program.