September: First week and first day of school
I had been in Canada for almost a week now. Not much had happened since my arrival. I was still trying to get used to the 3 dogs (at home I had one cat so this was quite a change for me) and also another exchange student had arrived 2 days after me. He was only 12 and was supposed to stay with me and my hostfamily for 3 months. Young and sweet as he was, it wasn’t really hard to get along with him. Since school wouldn’t start until September 8th, we both had some time to explore the neighborhood together. There was an elementary school with a playground right next to the house. Also some tennis courts and a few baseball fields (I am a big baseball fan, so this was definitely a bonus for me!). Otherwise there wasn’t much around. The mall and the shopping area were about 25 min away (if I walked) and my school about an hour foot walk away (luckily I wouldn’t have to walk to school every day, a bus would pick me up at the elementary school with a few other high school kids at 8:40; this was a lot later than I was used to, because in my homecountry school starts at 8:00 sharp).
On September 8th, I was so nervous I could barely get down my cereals. It was the first day of school. Would it be like glee, high school musical or any other high school related movie where everyone was put in a kind of drawer, based on their looks and what they wore or what sports teams and clubs they joined? For example the cheerleader cliché: Cheerleaders were the most popular and the most beautiful kids in the whole school. Everyone wanted to be friends with them, but they were like an elite club, and only the “cool” people were allowed to sit with them at lunch or hang out with them. I had no idea if it would be like this that was probably the reason why I was so scared. Was anyone going to make fun of me because of my accent or my looks? My host mum tried to calm me down. She knew almost the whole school’s staff because she helped with the musical’s costume every year and reassured me that they were all really nice. Well that certainly wouldn’t help me if the other kids were not, but I couldn’t have changed it anyway.
Since it was the first day of school, my host mum drove me so that I didn’t have to take the bus. She even came with me in to the office, where I was handed my schedule for the first semester (Homeroom, English, Math, Music, Science and Social studies). Then the guidance counselor gave me a quick tour of the school: it was huge (at least for me it seemed like small castle). The school consisted of 3 buildings (which were connected through skywalks and tunnels), a gym, a swimming pool, a football field and workshop for the woodworking courses. How was I supposed to find my way around in this place!? After the tour, the guidance counselor brought me to my second period class (I had missed homeroom – which counted as period 1 – because of the tour, so now I had English. It didn’t really help my fear; English was the one class I was most afraid of: writing stories or poems, or reading Shakespeare in a completely different language! I was above average in English in my school back home, but that didn’t mean anything here! But I had no need to be worried: When I told the teacher that I was from a foreign country she was really understanding and told me to ask her anytime I needed help. The classes afterwards were the same: The teachers were all really understanding and offered me help if I needed it. So at 4:30 when school was over, I was relieved and happy: I had survived the first day of school! I hadn’t made any new friends yet; it was kind of difficult to get to know new people better, because I had different people in every single one of my classes, but I didn’t mind. The first day of school was over, that was all that counted for me.