I cannot believe that it has been almost four months since I applied to, and over a month since I learned that I am a finalist for the K-L YES Abroad program. When I applied I had no idea whether or not I would get in, and if I did, where I would go. I had almost no preference to where I wanted to go because I know I would find my place in any of the countries available. However, I now know that I am indeed traveling to INDIA for the upcoming school year (2017-2018). The most common reaction I get after getting asked where I will be going in India (I have no specifics for that), is usually "you're going for the WHOLE year???". I always introduce the topic as a year of study abroad but I guess people still assume it is just a summer program. So, to clarify, I will be (most likely) going to India June 26, 2017 and coming back sometime in May of 2018. It does seem like a huge amount of time to be away from the only world I know in Corning, New York, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime as cliche as that sounds. I have heard (and definitely agree) that the time passes by too quickly.
More specifically, I found out I would be going to India on March 13, 2017. I remember this date (I am really bad at remembering dates besides my birthday and major holidays) not only because my life changed courses that day but also it is the day before pi day (3/14). I was not receiving emails from YES Abroad because my email got mixed up so I was relying on my mom to tell me when she heard something. On that day, YES Abroad was the last thing on my mind because everyone was so excited for the snowstorm that was coming which led to two snowdays in a row. But sure enough, my mom came home and she checked her email while walking to me to check in and she started reading the email starting with the subject line "YES Abroad Finalist - India". I couldn't believe my ears! I shot right up off the couch and stopped doing my AP World History homework. I got my mom to forward me the email but in the meantime I was, to put it lightly, in shock. I could not believe that this was happening to me. My little brother and sister who were home at the time were excited but of course one of the first things they told me is "don't leave me". Of course it will be hard to leave my family for nearly an entire year, but it will be more than worth it in the end. I am 100% sure my siblings will enjoy hearing stories when I come back. I spent the rest of the evening looking over the emails and the attached files. I immediately read and signed every paper and release form with my mom and then had my dad sign the other forms when he dropped off my sister from track practice. It was a hectic night but it was one of the best nights I have had.
As the time went on from me learning about this I of course l scoured the internet for anything and everything relating to India and found a few blogs from people who had already gone which gave me the inspiration to start my own. I was able to tell my global history teacher from freshmen year (who wrote my recommendation) that I got in three days after I found out because of the two snow days we had. Those snowdays were very hard to wait through because I had to wait to tell people in person that I had gotten in. I was really excited for the regional orientation to see if anyone in my area had gotten in and from there the National Pre Departure Orientation (NPDO). I have yet to hear about the regional orientation but I should hear back soon. To my surprise, I woke up one day and checked my phone per usual but saw that I had an enormous amount of instagram notifications. I soon discovered that I had been found by the other YES Abroad India kids for 2017-2018. I first met McKenna, Colin, and Bri. I could barely concentrate at school that day because I really just wanted to talk to them. About a week ago, I met Olivia who is also going to India with us. Of course we will be in separate host families, but I am super excited to see how we progress abroad as friends and as individuals. It is so interesting to meet people that you feel so connected to even though you have never met in real life. We are already planning on getting a pizza and cupcakes for NPDO this year if at all possible. Before Olivia joined the group, Colin, Bri, Mckenna and I had a skype chat. It went relatively smoothly considering it was the first time we had communicated outside of snapchat and social media. It was a great experience even though it eventually turned into Mckenna and I talking by ourselves for a few hours. I could not have imagined getting to meet such great people and am grateful we get to spend the next year together.
In the next post I should talk about the in-home session, regional orientation and any other new occurrences. Things will be moving quickly as there is just over 2 months before we leave!
Hi! My name is Anna McKane. I am 16 years old and have had a pretty ordinary life up to this point. I believe this experience will change me for the better and I will try everything I can while I am abroad.