Elmira Ayvazyan’s journey to the United States is something she has waited for her entire life. Life in the United States is something she never thought would be possible, and now she is grateful for the opportunity her host family has given her.
“First [when] they [The FLEX Organization] called me and said that I was a finalist, I couldn’t believe my mind,” Ayvazyan said. “I started crying and I was alone at home so there was no one there to celebrate with.”
Ayvazyan’s hard work paid off in so many ways. In the FLEX organization students must pass three rounds of tests in order to become an exchange student. The first round consists of an English test, so the organization can see where the student’s English skills stand. The second round is a written composition, to test their English skills once more, and the third round is an interview with the student and organization.
“Last year I participated in the same program; I failed it on the third round, but this year I succeeded,” Ayvazyan said. “Last year when I was trying I was really nervous because I wanted to come here badly, but this year I didn’t think about it so much; it was a piece of cake.”
Moving from Europe to the United States there are many differences, especially in schools. Most schools in Europe are very small and a bit less chaotic compared to American. When Ayvazyan first entered school in America it was everything she had expected.
“I think everything is different here,” Ayvazyan said. “We don’t change our classes, and we don’t have any lockers. It is really similar to the movies; for example, the pep rallies, football games, the behavior of the kids and the teachers and everything like that. I really like it; I always feel like I am a movie character.”
What Americans will learn from a foreign exchange student is that school is much more difficult in their home country than in the United States. Most of their difficulties here are translation, but otherwise it is a walk in the park.
“I think in Armenia it is much harder because there are some things that we have that are much [more] difficult, and we don’t focus on sports,” Ayvazyan said. “We have sports, but they are outside of school like clubs. We focus more on the academics at school.”
American history can also be a difficult subject for foreign exchange students.
“Armenia has a very old history, it is one of the oldest countries in the world, and we were the first country to make Christian religion our first religion,” Ayvazyan said. “The town where I live is all about Christian history; the first Christian church in the world is in my country.”
First experiences are the memories that most people keep near and dear to their heart. For Elmira Ayvazyan, her first American experience was very near and dear to her stomach. She found the expression “Everything is bigger in Texas,” is most definitely true.
“After the airport I went with my family to the Mexican food restaurant and I was really surprised at the size of the plate; I could not finish it,” Ayvazyan said. “I felt really sorry.”
Ayvazyan’s adventure in the United States is just now beginning, but as most know it will all fly by in a blink of an eye.
“I will miss everything, because everything is really nice here,” Ayvazyan said. “I will miss my host family, my school, and my American friends.”