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Hey new Fulbrighter!

So you’ve gotten through the application process and the long months of waiting and have been accepted as an ETA in Germany, have you? You have all summer now to plan and freak out and tell everyone you’ve ever met and their dog that you’re moving to Europe for 10.5 months, but the real question is- now what?

The next few months are exciting. They are also scary. You get it? Well, you will.

Here are a few suggestions for how you could spend the summer before you move across the ocean.

1. Get a part time job (if you don’t have one already). You’ll want the extra cash as a buffer for food, safety deposits, and travel- did you know you might not get paid until two months after you’ve already moved to Germany? Yeah, I didn’t either. Also, Fulbright reimburses you for stuff (airfare, luggage fees, transportation to orientation, etc) AFTER you pay for it out of pocket. Just keep that in mind, you broke college student you- but you’ll also want enough free time to visit the friends you’ll be leaving.

2. Hang out! Find anyone who’s not already sick of hearing you talk about Fulbright and spend time with them. You might not see them for a while, after all.

3. Tell everyone you know where you’re going, when you find out. That’s right. Everyone. It may be annoying (it’s definitely annoying) BUT you never know who might have a friend with a cousin who has a past teacher living in Germany whose son needs a roommate in your city!

4. Start looking for housing. Seriously, start ASAP, if only to get yourself familiar with what kinds of options are available in your city. It’s a numbers game; contact everyone. I set up appointments via skype to meet with potential future roommates (I mostly used wg-gesucht, and you can also ask your future head teacher for suggestions). More on the housing hunt later.

5. Check the weather! The internet is a handy thing and can tell you what to expect in your city year-round. Also, as a general rule, Germany has four distinct seasons, so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. If you come from a place where it never gets below 70, start looking for  discounted winter gear.

6. Book your flight. I suggest using STA like Fulbright suggests- much less hassle. Do it now so that you won’t have to pay for an expensive flight that the stipend does not completely cover.

7. Find other Fulbrighters. Find past Fulbrighters. (Facebook is a surprisingly good resource for this!) Ask them questions. Ask me questions. Just ask a lot of questions, okay? Also, find the group on FB (there’s always a group) of current Fulbrighters to your country and join it. Even if you’re not active on Facebook, there’s a lot of information and resources to be shared there, from housing recommendations to where to find the only Chipotle in Germany (it’s in Frankfurt).

8. Brush up on your German and start learning about where you are going. Read the paperwork Fulbright keeps sending to you. Read up on the city you’re moving to. Read a few travel guides. Basically, gather as much information as you can, even if it’s in small doses. If you don’t know German, find someone who does (contact your alma mater’s German professors or attend their German club meetings/join their group on Facebook- they likely won’t mind at all!) to get help with all the official Fulbright documents. Look for local Stammtisch groups, watch German YouTube videos, play your video games in German… whatever floats your boat.

9. Stay excited! Right now, that probably seems pretty easy, but there will be some ups and downs in the next couple of months. Hold on to that feeling of excitement you have right now and supplement with chocolate when necessary.

10. (Optional) Buy and break in a good pair of walking shoes. From my previous experience in Europe, it’ll be worth it.

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