Anistasia Chernaya knew, growing up in Russia, that coming to America would present its challenges.
The 16-year-old Warren G. Harding High School junior didn't know pre-calculus would be a stumbling block.
Then, like most tech-savvy teenagers, she relied on a well-known search engine to break the language barrier.
"It was hard in classes, like in pre-calculus," Chernaya said. "I was like, 'uhhh.' I didn't know anything they were saying. Then I Googled everything and I was like, 'All right.' Google anything this century and you can find everything."
Chernaya traveled more than 4,800 miles from Syktyvkar in the Republic of Komi - a 16-hour drive northeast from Moscow.
She came to America this summer via PAX (Program of Academic Exchange), where they match host families with young people for an academic year and are submerged into the lifestyle of a U.S. family.
Enter the Thirions. Emily, a 16-year-old junior at WGH, and her family host Chernaya. Both girls are swimmers and have found many mutual interests out of the pool as well.
Emily's mother, Lisa, embraced the idea of having another member of the family. She's enjoyed the time Emily and Chernaya have had since the two have known each other.
Lisa said she doesn't treat Chernaya any different than she would her own daughter.
"They said to treat her like one of your children and it's very easy," Lisa said. "She's happy. She's upbeat. Her and my daughter get along great. They're very, very close. It doesn't hurt she's a swimmer, too."
Chernaya said in her essay she wrote before making the venture from her homeland, she'd like to experience American life with some siblings.
You see, she's an only child. Most only children wonder from time to time what life would be like with a brother, or in Chernaya's case, a sister.
"I'm so grateful I have Em," she said.
Emily's younger brother, Andrew, might be wishing, a few times at least, he'd get a brother out of this deal.
"We definitely gang up on him a lot. He has even less bathroom time than he did before," Emily said.
Like most families, it's always good-natured fun between siblings.
Chernaya added she plays video games with Andrew.
It's all just a glimpse of a typical family dynamic.
"It's not supposed to be a vacation. She's supposed experience being part of an American family and what American life is like," Lisa said.
For Emily and Chernaya, life at WGH is about swimming as well.
Raiders coach Steve Lukco said the Russian-born swimmer has the endurance to the swim the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
"She came in good shape," he said. "All in all, she's a pretty fit, young lady. That helps in a longer distance race."
Chernaya won a 500 event in a dual meet against Alliance this year. She's done longer distances in Syktyvkar, 1,600 meters and further.
"I tried 500 and I like it," she said. "It's really great. Probably more than I did in 800 (meters). I want to work even harder. Coach makes me work for that."
Emily hopes having her new "sister" around this year helps her teammates at WGH. She hopes Chernaya's distance skills can enhance the girls team deep into the postseason.
"I think it's going to give us an extra edge, having her around," Emily said.
So far, Lukco said he's impressed with his new swimmer.
"Her stroke is really nice," he said. "She comes from a well-established program over there in Russia. She has great form, good technique. I think that's something that's made her successful."
Before Chernaya came to America, she was told things may not go smoothly during her year. In fact, she was told to expect it.
Chernaya said nothing could be further from the truth. She added she experienced a great family, excellent school atmosphere, teammates that could not be better and the ability to make friends with them and branch out to others in the Raiders community. Life in and out of WGH has been as perfect as a postcard en route to Syktyvkar.
"Everything they taught us on the program before we get here is like totally different," she said. "I really like it. They were saying we would have troubles or something. I don't have any with friends or anything. I'm just enjoying my time."
Emily hopes to expose Chernaya to cultural finds in the Youngstown/Warren area during the upcoming Christmas break.
"There are certain gems in our area like the Butler, various things we can take her to - to show her around and improve her entire experience outside of just swimming and the typical high school American experience," Emily said.
Chernaya has been to Washington D.C. with the Thirions. She said its not like the New York City or Los Angeles experience she's heard about. Her experience this summer was iconic to say the least.
"It's like in the movies. You look in the streets and everything is so perfect," she said.
Emily said she and Chernaya enjoy the same taste of movies and shopping and even hang around the same circle of friends.
Don't worry. Nobody will be speaking pre-calculus in any of these conversations. It's all understood to Chernaya.
"She seems to get all the subtle nuances of everything that we do," Emily said. "She's gets our jokes and picks up on everything. She fits in very, very well with us."