Auf Wiedersehn East, Guten Tag CBYX

Junior Beth Siegling and her new friends enjoying all Germany has to offer. Photo courtesy of Beth Siegling

By: Olivia Cohen 

In a world where global connections are increasingly vital, studying abroad is an attractive option for students who want to expand their horizons. While there are a variety of programs to choose from, East students are particularly fond of the “Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange,” more commonly known as CBYX, which sends adventurous teenagers to live in Germany for 10 months.

CBYX is jointly run by the German and U.S. governments as a way to cement positive relationships between the two countries.Through a full cultural and language immersion, this program intends to leave its participants feeling independent, informed, and with a better understanding of modern world-relations.

During the exchange year, students practice a traditional exchange by living with a host-family and enrolling in a German high school. Since this program is government-funded, participants receive special benefits such as language classes, cultural expeditions, and meetings with government workers.

Before applying for this program, students should make sure they meet the minimum requirements of being an American citizen between 15 and 18 years old, and having at least a 3.0 GPA. No previous German experience is necessary, which expands the eligibility of this program immensely. As long as those interested meet the predetermined conditions, then they can continue with their online application.

“A really long application comes out in late October and is due in early December. You have to write essays about yourself, fill in anything you have done in the past two years (sports, clubs, awards, extracurriculars,etc.), then you fill in all your personal information, get a transcript from the school, and finally write a letter to your host family,” said current applicant Hailey Wunder.

Studying abroad is a big decision, but East students who have participated in CBYX have nothing but praiseworthy things to say about their experience.

“Nothing was easy but my favorite part was making new friends and getting to know my town,” said senior Alex Broz. “The hardest part is being 4500 miles away from my friends and family. Studying abroad has taught me that strangers can care about each other and then become friends.”

Beth Siegling is in agreement with Broz’s appreciation for the program.

“My favorite part about the exchange has been meeting so many incredible people from different backgrounds, getting a new and loving family, and learning an entire language. I have never done anything more rewarding or more exhausting than exchange,” explained Siegling. “I would do this year a million times over. I have fallen in love with Germany and now want to study abroad and live in as many different places as possible.”

When asked about the biggest lesson she learned through her CBYX experience, Siegling emphasized the importance of global relations.   

“Studying abroad has taught me compassion for people who are different from me, the importance of communication and asserting what I want, and a sense of duty as a global citizen. The world is smaller than we think it is, and getting to know the people in it is a lesson that is difficult to explain, and an absolutely invaluable experience.”

No matter what program a student chooses, studying abroad is a life-changing experience. For those that have a spark of curiosity, a desire for independence, or cross-cultural interests, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange is an excellent option. The world is worth exploring, and there is no time like the present to find out all that it has to offer.

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