KIRA SCHWARTZ – Lübeck, Germany

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Kira Schwartz, left, was an IFX scholarship winner and competed with the 2nd Bundesliga club, FFC Oldesloe in Lübeck, Germany for the 2008-9 season.

I opened up my mailbox one day to find a pamphlet on IFX soccer abroad. I was always knew that I wanted to study abroad for a year, and this pamphlet got the ball rolling. My parents said I could go ahead and email IFX for more information. They never thought that I was actually serious about going abroad. Originally I wanted to go to Spain because I had taken Spanish in high school, but when IFX emailed me back about the opportunity to go to German on a scholarship as a student ambassador, it was too good to pass up. I was ecstatic when I was finally called saying that I won the CBYX scholarship. I immediately started to learn German to prepare myself for my upcoming year. Almost half of the CBX scholarship winners did not know any German, but by the end of the year we were all fluent.

I opened up my mailbox one day to find a pamphlet on IFX soccer abroad. I was always knew that I wanted to study abroad for a year, and this pamphlet got the ball rolling. My parents said I could go ahead and email IFX for more information. They never thought that I was actually serious about going abroad. Originally I wanted to go to Spain because I had taken Spanish in high school, but when IFX emailed me back about the opportunity to go to German on a scholarship as a student ambassador, it was too good to pass up. I was ecstatic when I was finally called saying that I won the CBYX scholarship. I immediately started to learn German to prepare myself for my upcoming year. Almost half of the CBX scholarship winners did not know any German, but by the end of the year we were all fluent.

  • In Germany soccer was life. It helped me make friends in my sport class. I was accepted by the guys because of my soccer skills.
  • My club team in German was also really nice. It was a 10 min bike ride away from my house, which was really convenient.

To start off the trip to Germany, CBYX met 3 days in Washington DC to get a better understanding of what it means to be an American student ambassador. This time was a great experience, not only did we get to meet our state senators. We also got to establish long lasting friendships and support networks. When we finally arrived in Germany, we were thrown right into a language camp for 3 weeks. This camp was essential for my German learning. Although I did not learn the whole German language in those 3 weeks, I got learned all the basics to build my fluency upon. Language camp was really fun. We did various activities that made learning German as painless as possible; my favorite activity was a canoe scavenger hunt on the Alster River.

Going into the year I did not think I would actually notice the culture shock. After a couple weeks the culture shock really hit me, but I realized even though it is different from America, it doesn’t make it bad-just different. I quickly adjusted to the different culture, enjoying the differences that set it apart from what I was use to. Instead of being a lazy American and driving a car everywhere, I started to use a bike, I learned how amazing Nutella tastes on pretty much everything, and I learned that Germans love their potatoes. The language barrier was also hard at first. The more I spoke in German, the faster I learned. Somewhere around the 4th month I starting to understand the language relatively well. School stayed difficult for the first semester. But by the end of the second semester I had A’s and B’s in all of my classes. I was even one of the best students in my math class, and everyone would come to me for help.

In Germany soccer was life. It helped me make friends in my sport class. I was accepted by the guys because of my soccer skills. Many of them had not seen a girl who could play soccer as well as them. My club team in German was also really nice. It was a 10 min bike ride away from my house, which was really convenient. The girls were really nice, and helped me improve my German. They made me feel welcomed in the unfamiliar country. The soccer team I was one won many “pokals” (tournaments) and my team even let me keep the trophy as a reminder of my time in Germany.

My host family was WONDERFUL. Throughout my time in Germany I felt like an extension of their real family. To me, they are my second family. I can truly say that I love them. There were 7 of us in my family, and all of us got along great. There was never a dull moment in our house hold. In fact, one of my host sisters currently had a baby, and I am not called “Tante Kira” (aunt Kira). My host family was the most accepting, warm hearted people I have ever met in my life. At the end of my stay I didn’t want to leave them. I talk to them almost every week on skype and hope to visit them soon. They will always be family to me, and I miss them so much.

I made great friends in Germany. People who I keep in touch with and miss dearly. One of my friends is now living with me in America for 6 months as an exchange student. She helped me so much in Germany, and now it is nice to help her for a change. My friends and I had lots of fun, whether we were going to a HSV soccer game, going to a disco or just hanging out. I also made amazing CBYX friends. My fellow CBYX-er’s were my support system. They were the people I could talk to about things going on in my life, because they understood what I was going thorough as an exchange student.

CBYX also offers many great incentives. Besides the full scholarship and language camp, CBYX pays for 2 trips a year: Weimar and Berlin. These group trips were both informational and fun. I strongly recommend applying for the CBYX scholarship. It changed my life, and it will change yours. I became a better person through my year abroad and learned many new things. Going abroad gives you a new learning experience that you won’t get anywhere else. It gives you the chance to learn a new language and experience a new culture. The worst thing about CBYX was that it made us come home from Germany. If I could, I would have stayed there for another year at least. Germany is my home now, and I hope to be able to live there again. CBYX gave me the best year of my life, I loved it!

*CBYX is a government sponsored scholarship program, administered by international study abroad organizations, not by IFX directly. CBYX has no direct affiliation with IFX.

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