Coronavirus...This was the disease that led to loss of thousand people, presented immense challenges to world economy, public health and many more. However, it was an infection that showed us the true values in this life. It was a disorder that taught us to appreciate things once we took for granted. Moreover, it was a time for some people to improve, to work on themselves more,including me I can clearly remember the day when it was announced quarantine for the first time in our country. It was Sunday. I didn't take it seriously until the moment our class teacher wrote a message saying "Dear students, our school is closed until the quarantine is over. Please stay home and stay safe". I was worried a little bit, but not much,because I used to go to the tutor from different subjects and I thought I could see my friends there. Unfortunately, the same message came from my tutor. Now, the real mourning quarantine started in my life. I didn't know what to do. It was as if someone took the essence of my life from me. Moreover I used to see 2-3 people's funeral a day since our home was close to the cemetery. Even though I was in panic at first, it didn't take me much time to take advantage of the quarantine. Before the pandemic I was rarely seen in the kitchen, since I was usually immersed in my studies. But now I had more time, so I tried making various dishes, watching Youtube videos. I spent more time with my family, listening to old stories of my grandparents. We knew that Covid-19 was extremely hard for the elderly to go through, so we paid special attention to them. However, it was against my nature, just sitting at home and reading a few science fiction books. I had to do something more academic. I was aware of the fact that most of the international exams were stopped,like IELTS. But I felt that one day everything would be normal and humans would be back to their pre-pandemic life. Nonetheless, I had to take my IELTS as soon as the quarantine finished and I was not prepared at all. It was at that time, when I started searching for online IELTS courses, but was not able to find the one according to my criteria. So, I downloaded online materials for self-study and started to prepare, getting some instructions from my tutor. It was at that time when I encountered the advertisement of the program that changed my life. Flex program which stands for Future Leaders Exchange Program is a program that provides 100% scholarship for high school students to spend one academic year in the United States of America, living with host family and attending U.S high school. After thorough research, I became aware of the fact that they couldn't send students this year due to Covid situation. But selection process would take a year and anything could happen in a year. So, spark appeared in my heart that I could win this scholarship. I finished my application and only thing that left was waiting for the answer whether I was in the next round or not. During that time frame, pandemic situation got better and I took my IELTS test . And guess what? I took overall 8.0 band score. But I didn't know that it was just a beginning. I took part in our national English olympiad and got the first place in town and region level. For my performance in the republic level, I got an admission into one university without any exams. Being occupied with competitions, I soon got the e-mail that I was in the next round of FLEX. Excited and worried at the same time, I collected the red tape I needed, even though it was a little bit difficult because of quarantine. I took some English tests, wrote few essays and was interviewed as well. Again, waiting...It was 24th of march, when I received a call from FLEX Uzbekistan with congratulations that I had been selected as a flex finalist. There are no enough words to describe my feelings I felt at that time. Even a year ago, I could not imagine myself in a U.S high school, chatting with American classmates and going home in that popular yellow school bus. But now, I will start living this life after 2 weeks. I know that Covid brought misery into lots of people's lives. They lost their loved ones, their jobs...However, it also brought solidarity. We learned to pay attention to the people who need our help, learned our family members' faces better and realized how much we missed around-table meals with our family. Moreover, lots of people realized what their true passion is or had a life-changing event in their lives like I had. (In the picture above, you can see FLEX 2022-2023 finalists)

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Krister Axel

Music Blogger and Memoirist at

Ogdensburg, United States