My name is McCade Bell, and I am spending the summer semester studying abroad at the Universität Heidelberg in southwestern Germany. This first post will help you get to know me if you do not already, as I take you through my exciting travels across the Atlantic Ocean. I will be updating the blog weekly as part of my Senior Capstone through Portland State University, and hope that you thoroughly enjoy the ride. Without further ado, here is the summary of my life story, leading up to my departure on March 28, 2017:

I was born and raised in Richland, Washington, the only child of two Hanford High School teachers. I lived in Horn Rapids for the majority of my life, as I attended Sacajawea Elementary School, then Enterprise Middle School in West Richland. Before my freshman year at Hanford High began, my family moved into what used to be my Grandmother’s house in North Richland, only about five minutes away from the school. This made my high school experience something of an ease, as I had never lived so close to my school before. I learned to cherish the ability to ‘sleep in’ and walk to class in the morning.

It was at this time in my life that my family decided to take in a foreign exchange student from… you guessed it: Germany. Franz Scholz would become very close to my family over the next year, and I began to think of him as a brother more than anything else. I was taking German from none other than Frau Morgan at the time, and being immersed in so many German themes at the time solidified my enjoyment of the culture, and I told myself that I would jump at the opportunity to live in Germany if it ever presented itself.

Franz and I before his Senior Prom.

Flash forward a few years, and Franz had become wholly integrated into the family. We considered him another member of the family, and had allowed him to stay with us indefinitely (he was meant to stay only one year at the beginning). Naturally, the two of us grew closer and closer together, and I enjoyed having someone with which I could discuss German culture. Frau Morgan taught me so much during my three years of German at HHS, and being able to go home and practice with Franz made it all the more enjoyable.

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Low-res picture of me dawning my Germanic Battle Gear for the glory of Deutschland

After graduating from Hanford High, both Franz and I moved out of my parents’ house in pursuit of further education and experience. He moved to Bakersfield, California, where he became an extremely successful salesman for a company called SolarCity (acquired by Tesla, Inc in late 2016). I moved to Portland, Oregon where I studied Geography and English at Portland State University from 2013 – 2017. I wholeheartedly fell in love with Portland, and soon called the city my home. Continuing my German language classes for two more years at PSU, my knowledge and confidence on the subject continued to grow.

During my Senior year at Portland State, I began looking into options for what is called the ‘Senior Capstone.’ This is essentially Portland State’s version of a final project. After a lot of searching, I found one called Reporting Live, wherein I would travel to another country, live there for a few months, and blog about cultural differences, experiences, etc. with a classroom back home. This option sounded right up my alley, as I have spent much of my life traveling (my parents lead tours through Europe and often vacation in Mexico), and was still anxious to live abroad.

I jumped on the opportunity, securing a spot in the Reporting Live class, and asking if there were any chance that I could connect with Frau Morgan’s German class at Hanford High. The fact that I had a teacher in mind boosted my chances of getting accepted, and I was approved a few months before my departure time. From there, I had a choice to make: Tübingen, or Heidelberg, Germany. I had been to Heidelberg several times before, and remembered how much I had loved spending a day or two within the city, so my choice was rather easy in the end: Heidelberg it would be.