Gianluca and Deniz on their CBYX Experience in the United States

You can’t always plan for life’s most meaningful moments.

As Gianluca, a German alumnus of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, puts it: “Don’t forget about the small things in life, like a great sunset. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of life and forget about the important things. Live in the moment! Put your phone down, leave it at home and go live a little.”

We tend to agree. Recently, we caught up with him and Deniz, a fellow CBYX alum, two of our 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest prize winners, to learn about their U.S. experience and see what advice they could offer this year’s contestants.

Two CBYX alumni that participated in the Congressional Internship Program were finalists in our 2015 Transformed by Travel Photo Contest.

Meet Deniz Ay, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX)


Tell us a little about your CBYX experience. What was the most rewarding or surprising aspect of your experience?

Since I am interested in politics and different cultures, CBYX is the perfect program for me to get a first-hand impression of what is going on in one of the most important countries in the world. Especially during the election year, it is interesting to see what politicians and people say and how they act. The comparison to my home country is very interesting so far.

Tell us more about the story behind this photo. What brought you to New York? What else happened on this trip?

CBYX always starts with a four-day seminar in New York City. It was the last morning before we would travel to our final placements. Some friends and I woke up early to see the sunset from the Brooklyn Bridge. That was not possible before due to jet lag and a pretty tight schedule. We used our rare spare time in the first free days to be tourists in this city (because let’s be honest: the first time everyone’s a tourist). We saw the 9/11-memorial, the One World Trade Center, Time Square, Rockefeller Center, Lady Liberty, used UBER for the first time and decided, that we might want to do something different–something calm–for our last morning in this wonderful city.

Deniz Ay’s submission to the 2015 Transformed By Travel Contest (above) was the Fan’s Choice Winner.

What advice would you give to future participants?

There is nothing wrong about taking pictures and videos as a traveler. Forget everybody who is giving you a hard time because of that. However, do not forget to ENJOY and really experience everything.

What advice do you have for future photo contest entrants?

If you are too lazy to tell a story, even the best picture is just something on the Internet. Try to explain the background, your feelings in this very moment and the reason for that picture. Oh, and do not submit pictures where you are posing all unnaturally. That’s a little annoying ?.

Meet Gianluca Sica, CBYX Alumnus

Tell us a little about your experience. What was the most rewarding or surprising aspect of your program?

I visited a college in a small town in Illinois, before I moved at the end of December to Washington D.C., to start my congressional internship in January. This was also the most rewarding aspect of my entire time here until now: getting nominated as a candidate out of many applicants for the great opportunity to work at the U.S. congress in the capital of the United States. Another surprising thing I realized during my time here at the east coast is the fact, that the people are a lot different than they were in the Midwest when I used to live in Illinois. Life there is not so fast and the people are more religious, so they like to visit the church often. 

What advice would you give to future participants?

The CBYX program is a great opportunity to widen your personal horizon and to collect a bunch of different experiences, which are useful in personal relationships and also for the professional career. Exchange programs, in general, are a big part of the international understanding of different nations and cultures so I would recommend it to every young person to be part of this experience at least once. During the past months, I lived here in the states, I met a lot of great people and new friends. It was one of the best decisions ever, to join this excellent program. 

What advice do you have for future photo contest entrants? 

Take as many pictures as you can during your time abroad. It is a great memory and they will remind you forever of amazing people and places you once visited. 

Snap, Share, and Win Our Photo Contest

Do you have a photo that can show the transformative power of travel? Enter our photo contest by October 3. Unlimited entries. The winner gets a two-day trip for one to Washington, D.C. during FotoWeekDC with a customized itinerary. Runners-up receive cash prizes, while all winners also receive a free Exposure subscription.