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Eighteen-year-old Mehmet Ayaz, an exchange student from Bodrum, Turkey, is busy trying to learn as much English as he can while living with his host family in Linthicum.

Mehmet is attending North County High School while absorbing the culture and living with Deborah and Gregory March and their children.

"I want to learn English better; my father owns a hotel and it isnecessary," said Mehmet, who came to Linthicum last August.

Mehmet is the son of Huseyin and Birsen Ayaz, and he has a sister, Deniz, 8. His parents operate a hotel on the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Turkey.

This is not the first time Mehmet has been an exchange student. He spent two summers in England, but found the language hereto be much different.

"I thought I knew English pretty well untilI came here," he said. "Here, there is so much slang." Since coming to the states, however, he said his English is improving.

As a senior student at North County High School, he sees some differences from the high school he attended in Turkey. There, the students stayed together, and the teachers moved from classroom to classroom.

The varied styles of dress here are also different for him. In Turkey, students wear uniforms even in high school. He also noted that in his country you have to be 18 before getting a license to drive a car, and there is no age limit for purchasing liquor.

The little snow that fell recently was the first he had seen, and he found it fascinating.Even though the winter has been mild, Mehmet still gets cold.

"Itis much warmer in the area of Turkey I am from," he said.

But thebiggest difference he notices is the pace: "Everything goes faster here, life is faster."

Mehmet will be going home when school is outin June but would like to return to America, he said. He has appliedto several colleges and universities, and if accepted, will study hotel and restaurant management.

The Marches say they've enjoyed their guest and are pleased with the student-exchange program.

"The AISE (American Intercultural Student Exchange) is a fine organization," Deborah March said. "It helps to deepen the comprehension between different countries and cultures."

She said that Mehmet has also gotten to see other parts of the country. AISE has sent him to New YorkCity and Washington, and Mehmet will go to Disney World.

The Marches have applied to participate in the program again next year.

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