My family moved to the United States when I was fourteen, and I learned I would be going to a new school just two days after we had entered the country and I wasn’t assimilated to the culture or the language. Even though I took lots of English lessons when I was in China, when I learned I would not be attending a bilingual school like the other new immigrants, I was extremely apprehensive. My first day of school in a new country was extremely nervous but full of surprises.
Forest Hills was the name of the school, it is resting at the top of one of the highest hills in the area, and housed in a Georgian brick building with a prominent white tower. I was brought in by my mom and my aunt. My aunt speaks a little bit of English and she helped my mother took care of registration and a plethora of things you have to manage as a new student. After all the hassles of registration were completed, my mother and aunt departed for home and I was left by myself to attend class.
I was told to sit and wait, but couldn’t understand any of the other words the lady from the office said to me. I couldn’t tell whether it’s my nervousness or the school heating was too strong, my head started sweating. I couldn’t know what to do, should I keep sitting here? Or Should I go ask the lady again for help. Just as I was going to stand up, an Asian girl came up to me and started introduce herself in Mandarin:” Hi, my name is Jessica, are you the new student? ” I felt like caught a tree while drowning, and was so happy that finally someone speaks the same language as I do.
“Yes, Yes! ” I shouted. Jessica had very long and straight hair, dark and had few high lights at the bottom, she was at my height, but very skinny. She only had short sleeve polo on and a pair of wide leg jeans. And I looked at myself, heavy chunky sweater and a legging inside of my jeans,” no wonder I am all sweaty” I thought. “We will be in the same class this period, come with me. ” She said it with a big smile. “Oh! You want to take off your sweater? Your face is all red. ” She added.
“In China, schools don’t have heat during the winter” I said to Jessica. “I know, I came from Beijing, I am here only two years. ” She explained. I was a little surprised that two years can make so much difference, she dressed like an American and she speaks English with literally no accent. She is someone I should look up to, I told myself. I followed her though the hallway and arrived at the classroom, “Wow, this is awesome! ” I thought after I had a look inside, all the students had their own desk, because the desk is attached with the chair.
I still remember when I was little, girls would draw a line in the middle of the desk to make sure the boy doesn’t cross because we had to share the desk. After the first period of class, all the students ran out the class, I sat there and though:” What happened? They all need to go to bathroom? ” Jessica came next to me and seems like she already knows what I was thought about:” Come on, get your backpack and let’s go to the next class, here we change classroom every period for different subjects”. “Oh….. another found”. In China, forty students will be together from the date they enter that classroom till they graduate.
The rest of the school day was pretty smooth, because Jessica and I are same age and since she was still in ESL class, we had the most of classes together. The school life, the environment, the traditions and the language, there are so much I had to learn and to achieve. There’s nothing like immersion. Even though there were many new experiences I had after moving to United States, this moment that I saw Jessica, the first day of school, stuck with me because I learned that a person must learn to change, to receive new things to be able to survive and be success in anyway and anywhere.