High school Future Leaders Exchange Program student from Turkmenistan enjoys Christmas decorations in small New York town
Aylara can't get enough of all things Christmastime in New York State.

Christmas Preparations Upstate

It's my third month in America, but for it has flown like three days.

Before I flew to America, I thought “Oh, it's a whole year,” but upon arrival you understand how short the time is—how valuable it is. You start to appreciate every moment that is given to you. Even a groggy morning before school or helping to clear the driveway of snow at 6 a.m. in the morning...

By the way, for the first time in my life I was shoveling, cleaning the driveway of snow. Afterward I thought, "being an American is difficult." In my country, we live in apartments. And while I am in love with cute American houses, every time I understand how hard it is to have a large, single family house.

Speaking of the house, we recently had new “accessories” put in. You probably already guessed which one. We bought a Christmas tree. And to my huge—just huge—surprise, it is “real”. Yes, I have never had a real, smelly (but in a good way) pine tree with pokey needles. We always buy the unreal. And here, what a joy—it’s real! We also put Christmas socks near the fireplace, just like in the movies. I find it very cute and beautiful.

I saw a lot of snow. More precisely, for me it is “a lot of snow.” But as my host mom told me, “Actually, this is nothing. Wait until January.”

“Nothing?” Are you serious? For me, it’s like a blizzard and a snowstorm combined!

I am looking forward to New Years and Christmas. The streets are decorated, houses in lights...oh, how beautiful it is. Pre-Christmas events, parades, Christmas trees all around...

Wherever I am, I feel as though I am stuck in a movie. Maybe I am??

—Aylara (FLEX, Turkmenistan), hosted by the Aldrich family (NY)


P.S. By the way, I met Santa and told him that I'm here only for a year and would like to come back again. He promised me that he would throw me under an American Christmas tree some time in the future as my present for that year.