Saturday, January 14, 2012

A family in three.

This should be my first post on my future undertakings but if you have been following me on twitter(@rxannelow) or stalking me on Facebook(Roxanne Low), you would have gotten the news that I will be leaving for Germany on a Student Exchange program.

Yeap! I'm the lucky one out of eight students from Malaysia that will be heading for Germany for a year in the second month of 2012.

Since we will be going away for not one week or one month but one year, we have to make sure we are all prepared for our journey to the west! AFS Malaysia organized a Pre-departure Orientation Camp for all of us.

All 34 excited participants (that includes the rest going to Switzerland, France, Argentina, Austria, NewZealand and Japan) turned up at Hotel Maluri last weekend where the camp is held. Many of us went there without knowing anyone else but themselves, and all we knew is that we were going to be given a briefing about our departure. For me, I think that was convincing enough because at least I was going to get some answers to the endless questions in my head.

Before the camp, the only things that was in my head is; When am I going to leave for Germany? Has a family volunteered to host me yet? How many pair of clothes do I have to bring? How am I going to pack my whole room into my suitcase? What school am I going to attend? Are German people friendly?

The orientation camp started off with a speech from Kak Atty and Mr. Lokman for the parents briefing. Mr. Lokman really impressed the crowd with his inspirational and encouraging speech.

He explained to us how AFS started with this group of ambulance drivers on service during the world war who experienced living with other races and understanding their culture differences. They then came up with an idea to involve students in this student exchange program. AFS promotes global unity through people to people intercultural exchange participation. Through this experience being on program,  we hope that people from all over the world can achieve intercultural understanding and bring peace to the world.

I got interested in this program because of the stories my cousin sister brought back with her when she returned from her student exchange program to New Zealand. I have also heard many wonderful stories from my friends who are returnees from their programs. At the beginning of this year when the application was open, I told myself that I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to apply for it. I didn't bother about the whole trouble of filling up the application forms and all, it was only the experience I could think of.

If I got selected, though it will be a tough challenge going out all on my own but it will be a great learning experience for me. I would be learning how to come out of my comfort zone to adapt to a new foreign environment, learn a new language, accept cultures of others, and attend a different school! To me, that is something really adventurous and exciting! Sometimes it'll still send shivers down my spine when I think about the scary part, but this the only chance that I will be brave and explore the real world! So, it's now or never.

No matter what happens in Germany, I won't regret making this decision to go abroad on this program. I am really grateful to be selected for this program as there was many who applied for this program but failed to be selected. I am really grateful.

Back to the camp, 34 strangers became like a family after a few days of getting to know each other and activities conducted together. If you were there, you would have seen how naturally we became from strangers to a big happy family. I guess this happens when all of us have the same interest and purpose. I am really happy to get to know all of them.

I remember the first day at camp when we were all so quiet and shy. I remember Shant, our facilitators saying that it's normal, "hari pertama ini memang ini macam, semua diam-diam malu-malu, nanti sampai camp dah habis atau balik dari negara masing-masing, semua jadi bising. Mulut pun tak dapat nak diamkan."

It's so true! I have already seen some of us being much noisier compared to the first day at camp. I am pretty sure that many will return much louder and more confident. To be honest, I'm actually looking forward to the day we meet again after we all return. It will is so nice to see your friends being all different compared to the first time you have met.

Apart from the fun games we played together, we also had to be serious when they gave us useful information while we were there, like the Adjustment Cycle or rather the "Emotion Cycle". We are sure to experience a up and down roller coaster ride during our one year stay abroad but as long as we do not give up during the downs, everything on the ups will be there to excite us. They gave us an advice when going through the downs, try looking at the positive side of things and you will be able to enjoy better. "Always think positive!"

The facilitators are always reminding us not to ER (Early Return). "No matter what happens, NO ER." This phrase was repeated countless times during the camp! Now, I don't think any of us will forget.

Also, to know that you managed to adjust well, they told us that we will start dreaming in your foreign language and about things abroad. Well, if that is the case, I will be hoping to dream in German soon, maybe dream about some cute guys too!! =D

In another session, they taught us not to expect too much as high expectations will only disappoint us when things don't go as expected. Therefore, "EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!"

They gave us so many pointers all with the intention of us having a great stay abroad and learn as much as possible from this program. They surely did a great job! Kak Adila, one of the returnee from Germany gave my group(Germany group) also shared with us more about her stay in Germany. From the stories she shared with us, we are now quite comforted and relax to leave as everything is going to be alright. :)

My cool facilitators!
(first row) Johann, Kamun, Roxanne, Alixe, Kak Azreen, Kak Adila, Haiqal
(back row) Tracey & Shant!
Oh, I got two amazing roomies too! We stayed up during the night talking about our culture. Great chance to understand other races before we go. :D
Katsuri, Roxanne, Mariani. :)

My Germany group!  with Mr. Lokman (left)  and Kak Atty (right)

A bunch of strangers. XD

See what I mean? =D All hyper!

Emy dearest. <3 Can't wait to see her at the airport!
We will be flying to Germany together! =DD

Looking down at the challenges that come our way with a big smile and great courage.
"Bring it on, challenges!!"

Well, now you know how I got a big happy family in three days. I am glad to know all at Pre-departure Orientation Camp, I wish ya'll GOOD LUCK on ya journey and safe return. We shall meet again in 2013! Can't wait to see you guys again! =D

Eager to find out how I pack my whole room into my suitcase? Stay tuned to my blog post about packing for Germany!

TTFN tatafornow!


  1. what a good read!! love it!! cant wait to read your whole journey ling ling!!!

  2. Thanks TUSH! :DD

    I'm sure you will have lots to tell too! Do tell me all about it okay! =DD