Our Fulbright Programs started with a Fulbright Gateway Orientation. As with any event these days, there was a Facebook group so that grantees could meet and find people who were going to our same host university. Tobi and I met there. We were both going to be studying at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and we started talking online. It was great to meet someone who was going through the same things as I was, and it was comforting to know that I would already have a friend in the city that would be home for the next two years.
August 20, 2012 came fast. It was the day I was to fly from Mexico City to Jackson, Mississippi for my Fulbright Gateway Orientation. It was an exciting time, and I was thrilled to meet so many other grantees. Tobi and I met after the first orientation session, when everyone was just standing around meeting new people. Suddenly, he came up to me and said, “You’re Mariana.” I remember thinking to myself that I really liked him when we went to a Mexican restaurant later and he asked me what to order. I suggested a popular beer cocktail called a Michelada. I didn’t think he would like it because Germans have a specific way they like their beer and that is with, well, just beer. This cocktail had everything from lime juice to hot sauce—he liked it. Success!