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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The event all YES Abroad hopefuls dream of, the In-person Selection Event was a weekend full of amazing moments, nerve-wracking assessments and definitely a LOT of surprises.

This year, it was held in an airport hotel in Denver from March 24-26. YES Abroad paid for me and the other semi-finalist from my state to fly from our local airport, along with every other associated expense except for travel meals and checked baggage - I don't think anyone checked anything, though.

During the IPSE, we all had an individual interview and two group evaluations. I wasn't too worried about either, and I don't want to cheat and reveal the questions or group activities, so all that I'll say is that you should be self-confident and ready to work really well with a group! I'll be making a post about study abroad interviews in general, so just refer to that one when you have questions about the individual interview.

For meals, we had a set group to sit with, which I thought was a nice idea - there was less clique-forming and a good amount of time to get familiar with the people at the table. I was in Group B, and all of us incidentally were chosen as Finalists!

From left to right, we were chosen for Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and Ghana. A few of us chose other opportunities but we're all going abroad next year, and that's what counts!

Another big part of the IPSE was getting to know the 89 other applicants who were flown in. We had a lot of free time in between meals and evaluations, giving us plenty of time to make new friends. I found it a little exhausting, but overall it was just amazing to be in a setting where you could go up to anyone and just strike up a conversation. I know everyone went away with at least a couple of great new friends. By the end of the event, everyone was scrambling to join the Facebook group and add each other.

If I were to impart ONE tip.... definitely bring something to entertain not only yourself, but a group. When I heard 'bring something to do' I assumed that my Kindle and iPod would be enough, but it would have been nice to have had a stack of Uno cards or Bananagrams or something that a group could have fun with. And, just prepare yourself to socialize a LOT and don't be afraid to talk to anyone, 'cause nobody bit! Don't freak out about clothes either. Just wear school-appropriate clothes (nice, not-ripped jeans, clean shoes, cute shirts, etc) and bring something a little more formal (but not TOO formal) for your interview and you'll be a-okay.

Anyway, one of the most memorable parts of the weekend, for me, was getting to hang out with the four other lovely ladies who had made up the Facebook group before the IPSE. We spent idle hours freaking out and talking to each other, so we were pretty familiar by the time we got to meet in person. One afternoon we spent freaking out and running around taking pictures.

Katie and Olivia, in an accurate representation of our adventures.

Carly, Katie, and Liv looking fabulous.
Overall, the IPSE was an amazing experience, and just a little taste of all that YES Abroad can do to change your life and perspective. Even from that short weekend, I gained a lot of insight about myself and others that I've been applying to my life. With the DC orientation fast approaching, I can't help but look back on the IPSE and think of how far I've come and how far I've yet to go.

Feel free to ask me anything you'd like, and enjoy this spam of miscellaneous pictures!

95 Days

Saturday, June 2, 2012

As I sit here in the darkness of our computer/guest room in a giant leather chair, it doesn't feel quite real that I'll be leaving for New York City - and then Indonesia - in just 95 days.

It's hard to believe that in 95 days, I'll have had a crazy summer, said goodbye to old and new friends, backed my bags, and be in a hotel, getting ready to leave for the adventure of a lifetime. I've seen photos of Indonesia, and I've started to study the language, but I know it won't be real until I step off the plane and feel the heat and smell the smells of my home for the next 10 months.

How do I feel? Excited. Nervous. Very tired - I just finished my Sophomore year of high school, and I'm ready to make up all the sleep I missed. And as always, I'm hungry for more information, although I have recently received a big packet from AFS in the mail and will be attending conference calls and an orientation in DC very soon.

Google has been my best friend due to my local library's woeful lack of books about Indonesia, and I'm hoping to speak to some Indonesia inbounds/rebounds more before I leave. When my bahasa Indonesia gets better, I want to find a native speaker to chat with, too. The language is easy to learn and I think it's fun - but really, I'm just glad it shares an alphabet with English.

In the next 95 days, as I've mentioned, I plan on hanging out with all my friends, reading books, watching movies, and soaking up as much of Boise as possible while I still can. I have a 'Boise Bucket List' and I do hope to cross everything off before I step on the plane to New York City! It includes visiting some local restaurants, festivals, and stores and of course, taking lots and lots of pictures to share with my Indonesian host family.

In other news, I recently received information about my flights to and from the National Pre-Departure Orientation. I leave from Boise on the 26th at 5:35 AM, have a layover in Minneapolis, and will hopefully arrive in DC at 2 PM. This makes me very happy, as there will be a lot of leeway in case I have a delay and I'll have some time to hang out with others.

When I leave DC, I'll be going through Phoenix and will arrive - again, hopefully - at 11 PM. These are the craziest flight times I've ever had, but I'm not complaining! I'm just glad to be a recipient of this amazing scholarship and to be going in the first place.

Before NPDO in DC, I hope to finally make that post about the IPSE. Look forward to it, readers. I have lots and looooooots of pictures to post.

Until next time! :)

About me

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I'm Sara, the freckled bule, one out of eight of the coolest people in the world. I spent a year in Indonesia as a KL/YES Abroad student but now I live in Boise, Idaho. Welcome to my bloggity blog.


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