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FLEX - Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

June, 19 2014

When I came home, everything was different. Yes, the airport looked the same, and so did the streets, apartments, trees and people; but somehow, I was looking at all those things through somebody else's eyes. I was a more mature version of me: stronger, smarter, more independent and careful. I was seeing everything with brighter colors, and I could understand things I never understood before.

My father and brother met me at the airport. We exchanged hugs and sunshiny smiles, and then went to the car. I didn't cry. Even though I missed my family a lot, I had a feeling of belonging and peacefulness, and that didn't bring me to tears. Even though I knew how much I will miss my host family, I didn't weep, because I also knew that there will be one day when we will meet again.

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As we arrived home, I endlessly talked to my mom and got the most heart-warming hugs I could ever get. I called my best friend and asked her how she was doing, and, funnily enough, she didn't understand right away that it was me. However, when she did realize who was calling her, she starting yelling in the phone and seemed more excited than ever, which encouraged me not to be shy about going back to the life I was always used to, even if with some major changes. Then, we met and she told me everything I missed to experience here with her, and I told her all my stories that I wish she could be involved into as well. She also told me that the Youth Group in my town still needs me and that I should become a part of it again, fact which made me happier and I felt like I was being accepted, again. The same way reacted my other friends, and it was very important for me to get all this love, because I was sometimes afraid that they were going to forget about me. But they didn't.

After numerous meetings with friends and other family members, I finally got time to analyze everything that has happened. Aside from wondering what the meaning of life is, I started thinking again about all the changes I've been through and all the knowledge I got. I thought about how many challenges I overcame, and how I've became a better problem solver. I thought about the new experiences and the old dreams that came true during this magnificent year. I've made a few best friends in America of different ethnicities and understood that while we're all different, we're still the same. I understood that everyone has a different way of reacting to the same things, but everyone will react kindly to politeness. I also learnt that no place is perfect, and that every country has its ups and downs.

 

For example, while Moldova's health care is more affordable, American clothes and electronics, of the same quality, are much cheaper. I improved my English abilities and learnt about world events from the American perspective, and I also understood for the first time how the American football works. I learnt about spectacular holidays and traditions, and was surprised at how different were the things that I had thought would be similar. The list with the things that this academic year taught me could go on and on, but I think I've made my point.

When it comes to my future, I don't plan to slow down. I've realized how important it is to start doing things right now, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm back in my home-town Youth Group and we have new projects every week. We're doing volunteering activities and have a few clubs to improve our speaker abilities. I might also become a teacher assistant for the ACCESS Program, so that I can keep practicing my English while helping others. I'll get back in my volleyball team and I'll ameliorate my health while also strengthening my team-work capacity.

In my leisure time I plan learning some German, because an additional language is always good for my brain. I'm also reading much more than I used to, and I plan to become a confident leader in my society and make the world a better place, even if it will require a lot of work. All of the above wouldn't be possible if not for the wonderful FLEX program. The whole time I was writing this, I had a tremendous feeling of gratitude and I felt... lucky. Lucky to be chosen as a finalist of the program, lucky to meet so many admirable people, and lucky to become part of this awesome alumni community.

I can proudly say that the American experience made my life more interesting and happier, and I got a valuable lesson: beauty of character is not measured by how you act when you succeed, but by whether you keep going when you fail.

Margarita Bicec,
FLEX 2014 alumna

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