Monday, February 8, 2010

"Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible"

CBYX stands for Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange and is a full scholarship to study in Germany for a whole year. It is paid for by the US Congress and the German Bundestag (German government). It pays for pretty much everything except for spending money and air fair to your departure city in the USA.

CBYX students go to German high schools and live with normal German families (like normal exchange students do). Gaining credit for school isn't guaranteed but my school is giving me full credit for the classes that I would take in Germany (one of the benefits of going to a small private high school).

There are 250 scholarships for the whole USA and there are 5 regions (each gives out 50 scholarships). The five regions are all administered by the different exchange organizations.AFS administers the distribution of the scholarships for all the Northeast region. Seeing as I was planning on going with AFS anyway, it worked out well. CIEE administers the scholarships for the Southeast. ASSE is in charge of the Northwest, AYUSA is the Southwest and the upper middle region of the USA is administered by YFU USA.

The requirements for applying to the scholarship are actually pretty easy. You don't even have to know how to speak German. The basic requirements are

• Be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident
• Have a GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale
• Be between the ages of 15 and 18 by the start of
the program.

There might be more requirements based on your organization but those are the basic ones for CBYX. You have to submit a pre-app and then a full CBYX application but neither of them are really that bad. Then you are told if you are semi-finalist and if you are then you have an interview/selection committee (see previous post).

This year the AFS program to Germany is around 12,000 dollars so this is a huge scholarship and is really worth applying for.

The CBYX website can be found here.

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”

This is for all those people out there who are considering applying for the CBYX scholarship. I know when I was researching the scholarship, these posts were hard to find. Let me start out by saying, don't be nervous. The interview is actually pretty fun.

They told us to get there at 8:30 but everyone got there at 8:00 ( we were even earlier than some of the interviewers). Then we got it and they gave us a quick introduction and little opening. There were four applicants in our selection committee ( 3 girls and 1 boy, I was the only boy). Then they drew straws to see who gets interviewed first, I was second. While each student was being interviewed the other 3 sat in the opposite side of the building and just talked and got to know each other. The interviewers made these really good pastries and other snacks so we had a ton of food.

I really got lucky because the interview was at a church about 20 minutes from my house. One of the girls traveled over an hour to get to the interview. I think she couldn't go to the one that she was supposed to go to so that's why she had to drive so far. I think the other applicants had to drive like 20 minutes as well. I am pretty sure that they break it up pretty evenly so that each person doesn't have to drive to far.

They didn't ask any really impossible questions. They weren't there to watch you mess up your answers. They just asked some typical questions and wanted to see how you would respond. Before my interview everyone said that I would be asked a ton of "what if..." questions so I was worried about those but they didn't ask a single one. They asked more questions about your personality like what do you do with your free time, what makes you a good candidate for CBYX and whether or not your friends/family/school is supportive of you going abroad for a whole year. All the interviews might be different so some people may have gotten more "what if..." questions so keep that in mind.

After the individual interviews, we had a group activity. Which included silently building something out of odd materials and then they asked us questions about what we got from the activity and other questions about what we thought the point of it was and what we found hard. That was really fun and I think our group spent most of the activity laughing about how weird our building came out and the occasional collapse.

The interview was over by 11:00 which was an hour earlier than it said we would be done so it wasn't very long at all. Since it was held down the street from a huge mall the parents went shopping during the interview and then I went after to spend my extra hour until I had to be home.

The interview was fun and laid back. It was nothing to be intimidated by. It's really something worth applying for by the way. They said that we should know our status' by the first week in March so that's not to long to wait. The next time that I post will be about the CBYX scholarship.