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Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange

About

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) offers ambitious high school students the chance to join an exchange program in Germany for 10 months. Students will live with a host family, attend a German high school, and learn of the German language and culture, allowing for a full immersion experience. Sign up today to become a CBYX scholar!

Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Shawne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely the most rewarding, challenging, amazing experience of a lifetime!! I cannot say enough positive things about the year I spent living in Cologne, Germany. I never in a million years thought I would live in a non English speaking country, but doing so was more enriching than I could have ever imagined. I had constant support from the program, even through having to switch host families halfway through the year. Not only that, but I have built friendships that will certainly last a life time. My exchange year was 2001-2002 as a 17 year old girl, and I can honestly say that now, as a 31 year old woman, the experiences during this year sculpted me to be the person I am today in the most incredible ways. I would re live this year exactly the same a thousand times and never run out of wonderful things to say about the country, its people, or the memories I made while there

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it was offered for college students too!
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Tyra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program combined a whole bunch of elements that I have seen separately in other exchange programs--study, internship, homestay, volunteer work, and citizen diplomacy. The structure of the program really makes you be proactive in getting out to experience so many elements of Germany that I'm not sure many people get in their own countries. I was able to study at a German university, intern at a statistics company, volunteer with the German coast guard, meet members of the German parliament, attend some amazing festivals, and travel around the country to experience the other participants' lives in different parts of Germany. I was so busy living life that it can sometimes take a retrospective look to realize how incredible my opportunities were and how much I grew as a person and as a professional in my time spent on the CBYX fellowship in Germany.

What would you improve about this program?
Some regions had advisers for the participants that were not necessarily invested in helping out unless the participants were in dire trouble. I know a lot of people learned a lot about how to figure out the German system on their own, but we were told that those people were there to help us--that was not always the case. Many of the regional advisers were fantastic, though, so that's not an all-around critique.
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Kailey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Through the CBYX program, I had what was definitely the best year of my life. The people I met through the program - from America and in Germany - were some of the best people I've ever met. Most of them remain some of my best friends to this day, and have even come across the ocean to visit me! I never felt unsafe or out of contact with my program. The people managing the program were well-educated in their fields, helpful, extremely nice, patient and understanding. Germany itself is a fantastic country, with a colorful history and unimaginable beauty. The people there are genuinely nice and have respectable values, while still being able to have a very good time. You won't have to worry about finding a group of people to fit in with. Additionally, you will without a doubt find yourself growing and becoming a better, more mature person while you're there. Through my exchange I've gained a broader view of the world, an openness for cultural differences and a love for travel and language. This program has also opened many doors for me, boosted my résumé, and made me think about possibly studying (and even living!) in Europe someday. I'm convinced that my year abroad will remain one of the best years of my life, and I don't regret it for a minute.

What would you improve about this program?
Though I understand that there are several safety concerns, there were many hoops to jump through to go somewhere with friends or school groups, and there was a lot of paperwork to fill out, some of which was very complicated and took quite some time to process.
Default avatar
jraat
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was born in Germany, have family there, but grew up mostly in the United States. I wanted to spend a year in Germany after graduating from high school to improve my very basic German language skills. My 10 months abroad helped me do that and much more.

I was placed in Thüringen, Germany, in a town of about 5 thousand people. On hearing of my placement, I was disappointed I wasn't going to be living in a metropolis and a little nervous about being out in the middle of nowhere. In the end, though, my little town of Bad Klosterlausnitz became a second home.

I quickly felt myself at home mostly because of 1 important reason: my host family. My family was warm, welcoming, tolerant, and engaging. That last adjective can be explained well by the nearly weekly trips my family took me on to show me Germany (and even Austria twice!). We went to museums, festivals, concerts, river cruises, visited cities, countrysides, hiking and skiing in the mountains, castles, mines, Nazi concentration camps, palaces, churches...just about anything and everything.

I grew really close to with my host family. I continue to stay in contact by phone, email, facebook, and travel. I have since been back to visit for several days; I wasn't sure how things would have changed after a year, but things were unchanged.

Because I graduating from high school already, I didn't have to worry too much about my classes in German schools. I didn't get grades, but I did try to learn when I could. Some subjects where nearly impossible for me. Without either a strong background or the technical vocabulary, I basically ignored my biology and physics classes. I did really enjoy and/or get a lot out of my history, math, German, French, physical ed, and geography classes.

The orientations and support through AFS (provider of CBYX scholarship winner's programs in the northeast U.S.) were okay. Not great, because sometimes they were repetitive or unhelpful, but mid-stay and end-of-stay enrichment trips to Cologne & Bonn, and later Berlin were a blast. You'll love being with other CBYX students from the U.S. They are smart, engaged people who are on the same crazy adventure along with you. They were the best friends I made and stay in touch with them today.

Living in a new culture and trying to speaking a foreign language is never easy, but an experience like CBYX is a real privilege. It will push you in many ways. You'll grow personally, in your understanding of the world, and in your thinking. It may not happen until you return to the United States, but you will realize your time in Germany will have changed you forever. For one, you will from then on see the world as your oyster. You'll have a travel bug and will want to go everywhere on earth and try to experience everything this life has to offer. If you are thinking about going abroad to study, work, or live (whether with CYBX, a different program, or on your own), do it! It's one of the best decisions you can ever make.

Default avatar
lizzielake
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going abroad in high school would have been virually impossible for me without CBYX. Their scholarship covered everything from the flight to the entire program cost and a carefully selected homestay.
The hardest part was learning to adapt to my host family's living style (they had different rules and expectations from my family at home), but these difficulties were overcome and I had a wonderful relationship with my host family.

School was not easy. I came to Germany with zero understanding of the German language. By the time my 10 months in Germany was over, I was writing poetry in German at nearly the same level as the native German students in my class. However, it still took me dramatically longer to read a German book than it did my classmates.

Like any place you go there will be good people and bad people. The key is to find the good people and make friends with them. It will not be east, as Germans are notorious for being hard towards strangers, but once you break down that barrier you will have friends for life.

The type of support you will have from the organization you travel with depends on which organization. I went with AFS. AFS was very reliable and I never felt like I was unsafe or without help.
The greatest part of your experience will also be the worst--going home. It is the greatest because you will have realized how much you've gained from your experience in Germany, but the feeling will be bitter sweet because you will feel like you are leaving a second home.

This program is especially good for mature individuals, because in the first few months you will probably feel like a fish out of water, but if you are determined to succeed, you will eventually feel more comfortable and learn to enjoy every moment of your time abroad.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you decide to study abroad with CBYX in Germany?

Since I was a sophomore in high school I knew I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to go to Germany because I had studied one year of German in school and I had German exchange students staying at my house before, but I wasn't opposed to studying in other countries. I happened to choose CBYX because it was a full scholarship. My family couldn't afford to send me abroad. They wanted me to wait until I was in college.

When I won the scholarship, there was nothing standing in my way of getting the immersive cultural experience I'd dreamed of. I wanted to see what life was like outside of my small town on Cape Cod. I've always been interested in writing, so I really enjoyed writing the essays for the scholarship. I also enjoyed blogging about my experience while I was in Germany. For me, living in Germany was all about making connections, celebrating our differences and similarities, and understanding life from another perspective.

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

My host family made my study abroad experience unique and special. It was challenging at first. When I got my host family I realized that I would be the only teenager in the house. My host parents were young, in their thirties, and my host siblings were 4 and 9 years old. I eventually became great friends with my host family. As a seventeen year old, I didn't know how to make friends with adults. My host parents were my first real connection with adults, besides my own parents. That made the experience special to me. I became more open towards new perspectives, old and young, as well as German and American. I learned that there is no limit to understanding. Empathy is available to everyone.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Everything about my experience in Germany has impacted my future. Because of my experience in Germany, I am enthusiastic about travel and world cultures. I am not afraid to go to new countries and make new connections. I have a better understanding of humanity, because I have experienced life outside of the United States. I go to Hampshire College, an institution known for experimenting in alternative education. My choice to go to this school and study non-fiction writing and cultural anthropology was highly influenced by my experience with CBYX in Germany.

I believe that experiences like studying abroad are critical for personal growth and cultural understanding. If you can put yourself in the shoes of a German, you can put yourself in anyone's shoes. Like I said before, there is no limit to understanding. You don't have to be a German to empathize with someone from Germany. A large part of my studies at Hampshire is promoting understanding through writing about my experiences of other cultures abroad.