Let’s throw it back to AUGUST 2014.
I decided to apply to CBYX, YES Abroad, and NSLI-Y (as previously mentioned). From the beginning of my application, I felt something special towards YES. I can’t explain why, but there isn’t always an explanation for things.
I was rejected to NSLI-Y Turkey year. I was really surprised by this. I didn’t get rejected for the Turkey summer, and I thought that my experience and minimalistic Turkish would be a green light. Oh well! I got disqualified from CBYX because one of my teachers didn’t turn in the recommendation (I hate moments like that).
On February 27, YES Abroad emailed and notified me that I was a semi-finalist. For those who don’t know, there are 2 rounds to this scholarship. They flew me and 110 other semi-finalists out to Chevy Chase, MD to interview us in person in what is called the IPSE (In Person Selection Event). The weekend consisted of one individual interview and two group interviews.
I felt that my individual interview went well. I was interviewed by 2 people. One of them kept asking additional questions and kept smiling. When I talked to the person who was interviewed after me, they said that that one interviewer said nothing during the interview.
My group interviews were fine as well. I loved how nonchalant they were. They were basically just to see how the candidates functioned in a group and with other people. In my first group interview, we made a volunteer foundation and had to decide where and what we would send our volunteers for. In my second, we had to do charades in teams. I got married in a hot air balloon in that one. 😉
It was a good weekend. I wasn’t feeling super great about the other semi-finalists until Saturday night when I talked with a group of them about theology. I live in Utah, and I am a Mormon. I kind of feel that in Utah, many people get offended and ticked off if religion is mentioned whatsoever. It was nice to rediscover that outside of Utah, many people enjoy hearing you talk about your beliefs. IT IS SO NICE. (www.mormon.org if you’re interested)
There was a concluding meeting. At it, the people in charge told us that they would let us know if we were finalists in mid-April.
So, YES offers scholarships to 12 different countries. They ultimately (if you’re picked) pick a country for you, but they let you rank your countries and take that into account. This is how I ranked mine:
10. Bosnia and Herzegovina
11. Morocco ( I ranked this last because it had a French requirement and I don’t speak any French)
They originally offered South Africa, but they had some complications. As a replacement, they told us that Senegal would be in its place. In a separate email, they asked us to rank Senegal low, medium, or high. I ranked it high.
I ranked my choices based on reading YES Alumni’s blogs and how I felt after reading them. I didn’t think about the ranking a lot. For future applicants, do think about the ranking! I didn’t care which country I was going to go to; I just wanted to go somewhere. So if you’re like me, I would highly suggest picking the “whatever” option under the rankings. I really wish I did.
On April 6, I was working on homework in the library after school. I got two texts. One was from my brother wondering when I was going to pick him up, and the other was from my mom, who hasn’t been to keen on this year abroad business. She said, “Got the email about the YES abroad program…”
I completely panicked. I think this is how it went in my head:
“OH NO! NOT THE … ! THAT MUST MEAN I GOT REJECTED!” Then I toughened up and decided that it was ok that I was rejected because now I had a direction.
Quick interjection! Ah! Sorry! I am a very goal-oriented person, and if I don’t have a surefire goal, I get really cranky and unstable. I was not sure what my Senior year was going to be composed of. I could have graduated early, studied abroad, or just stuck it out. So, explaining the above paragraph: I’ve been cranky and unstable all year. Rejection would have meant direction. (woohoo, rhyming! I could be Dr. Seuss! Haha) I guess, though, so would acceptance.
So I checked my email.
Flash forward to the beginning of this glorious post.
The subject of my email said, “Yes Abroad Program: Indonesia”. I stared at it, stunned. So I opened it and it informed me that I was accepted to go to Indonesia next year for 10 months. (I know what you’re going to ask, and I’ll answer it here. NO dates yet. NO location yet. NO host family yet.)
I honestly couldn’t and didn’t believe it. Indonesia, who I didn’t give a second thought to? I was completely surprised by my acceptance and then being accepted to Indonesia. I feel like I deeply considered a lot of countries, but Indonesia was NOT one of them.
I was so happy. I picked up and left that library because I felt like I was going to scream with jubilation. I called some friends and family members and let them know. Everyone was excited for me. My dad was like, “Cool! That will be great! You won’t be able to chew gum, though.” (that’s actually Singapore, silly Dad)
My mom was gone for the week and I wanted to talk to her in person about it. Like I said, she didn’t really like the sound of me being gone for 10 months. After a week, I talked to her in person about it (rather, argued) and went to bed angry. The next morning, she came into my room whilst I was slumbering and said something to the effect of, “I’m actually ok with you going. You’ll be fine.”
Although I didn’t express it in my groggy state, I was so happy. This was the point when I knew for a fact that I was going to Indonesia. I sent in my acceptance later.
Quick facts about this (that also may serve as answers to questions I’ve gotten):
~This will be August 2015-June 2016.
~I will be living with a host family. There won’t be other exchange students in the house.
~Although there are hundreds of dialects in Indonesia, I will be learning Bahasa Indonesian.
~I will be going to school. In Indonesian.
~Yes, there are lots of Muslims in Indonesia. But Muslims are SO NICE! I love them! This program is sending youth to predominantly Muslim populations.
I am absolutely thrilled! I’ve been trying to start learn Indonesian (harimau is my favorite word and it means tiger).
This will be my blog for my year abroad. So check it if you want to hear about my WILD AND CRAZY ADVENTURES