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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!

My travel buddy Lamija and I!
We all got fabulous State Dept. collapsable frisbees!

David (who is going to Indonesia with me), Sam and Carly looking brilliant.
Frappucino and candy bars: fuel of champions. Bring money for this stuff. 

Swanky hotel hangout place/waterfall
The horrifying blue horse at the Denver airport

I was shocked to see this at the Denver airport. I thought the entirely of Colorado was mountains. Not so, apparently!  
The bathroom where Lamija and I ran into two ladies rolling sushi. Yes, they were doing it in the bathroom, on the shelf where you can put your bags while you do your business. Yes, we were shocked too. 
The lovely rainbow I saw on my way home... it was a good omen after all!

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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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