Happy to be across the sea
Georgian exchange student details his American experience so far
December 13, 2022
In the modern era, the ability to look outside your own bubble could be argued to be a rarity. Often, individuals are stuck around social groups, ideologies and even social media that exclusively appeal to them and their worldview. However, although this may be a comfortable thing to do, it is important to realize that the world is far bigger than you can imagine.
The country of Georgia is an excellent example of this phenomenon. To most Americans, the mention of Georgia brings images of peaches and the bustling city of Atlanta to mind, yet halfway across the globe is a country filled with unique cultures and citizens. Here, we would find the home of one of the new exchange students on campus: junior Raul Azimov.
“[Georgia] is a small, kind of isolated, really mountainous, beautiful place,” Azimov said. “It’s mostly mountains, so when I first got here, it was kind of uncomfortable when I looked at the surroundings, and I didn’t see any mountains. You could say I had a phobia of open space for a few days.”
To someone with such a different home country, America’s landscape and society was seen as such a daunting place. Despite this, the differences one might really notice are things Americans did not even consider.
“I saw something weird about this city after a week of staying here. I noticed that there aren’t any sidewalks,” Azimov said. “I was like, ‘wait a minute, where are the sidewalks? How am I supposed to walk here?’ Usually, the answer is just to use a car.”
A common pattern for exchange students has been truly missing their homes. However, this thought has not stopped Azimov from enjoying and exploring into American culture.
I know that a lot of people miss their country. [But] I know that I’m going to go back there. I’m glad, but I still don’t want to go back because I have so much stuff to do here.
— Raul Azimov
“I know that a lot of people miss their country. I do too, but not to a great extent,” Azimov said. “I know that I’m going to go back there. I’m glad, but I still don’t want to go back because I have so much stuff to do here. I miss it, but not too much.”
America has been portrayed in foreign media in a plethora of ways, but there is consistency in certain stereotypes. Regardless, there are very many exceptions to these rules.
“Most of the stereotypes come from Hollywood and movies like when they show us American schools, where students are kind of separated into small groups like jocks, nerds, popular kids and stuff like that,” Azimov said. “I don’t see that a lot here; it’s more diverse. [the stereotypes] don’t really fit.”
Akin to stereotypes are the expectations held by each member of the exchange program of how they plan their experience to go. With no direct control on where you are placed, the journey these students can go on is far from their imaginations.
“You don’t choose where you will end up. They do, so I actually wanted to end up somewhere north, but I ended up in Texas; I’m a proud Texan now.”
The prospect of taking in a teenager from halfway across the globe is almost unfathomable in nature. In spite of this, there are lots of generous families around Texarkana that are up to the task.
“My host mom is the best person I have ever met,” Azimov said. “If there were more people like her in the world, the earth would be a much better place.”