I decided I wanted to wait awhile to describe my first impression of school. It would give me time to find a routine and know exactly what to tell you all. But even at two weeks in, each day is a new challenge. Constantly working twice as hard is exhausting, especially when the school life here is completely opposite to what you’ve known you’re whole life.
My schedule is not set up daily, but weekly, where each day is different from the next. So one day I’ll have math French, physics, and the next I’ll have biology, Spanish, English, history. I also have one day of P.E. per week, which is held outside, regardless of rain, wind, or snow. Lunch is an hour and a half, and for the first time, I’m eating cafeteria food. Well, the French know how to eat so I never go hungry at school.
One of the most difficult things about school is how long the days are, I get home from school around 6pm. Some classes last for two hours without breaks while others for a full hour. There are thirty four students in my class, and we all the same schedule, so it made it easier to make friends and connections. It’s nice to have a group of friends to sit with at lunch and to have people to partner up with in class. I’ve been very fortunate to have found a great group of friends, who are willingly to help me around. Because there is no one else I can count on to show me where my classes are or where the cafeteria is. I was very surprised when no one from administration wanted to help me, they just gave me my schedule and shoved me out the door. It seemed like they didn’t realize I’m a student from another part of the world who has no idea what is going on and needs a little help to get around. At Mesa Prep, each new student recieves a mentor, someone that helps them ease their way into a new school life. And on the first day of school, I wished very much for a mentor, who knew what was going on. I was a mentor last year, and now I fully realize the importance of having someone show you around, help you understand the flow of the school, and be there for you whenever you are completely lost. No one was there for me on the first day of school. I tried my hardest to hold back tears, and after a few second of self pity, I came back to the Sofia I knew who could make it through this semester, even without a mentor. I told myself I’ve made it this far, and I’m not turning back.
On the first day of school, my name wasn’t on any school record. Apparently last year there was a different principal and my paperwork didn’t get transferred to the new administration so I didn’t exist in any classes at Lycée Marcel Rudloff. The woman in charge of students’ paperwork placed me in a class with the least amount of student. In France, the students are divided based on what they will study after high school. There’s a group where they focus more on literature and arts, the section I was supposed to be in because it’s an easier course. But now, for the next seventeen week, I will be in the harder course where the focus is more on sciences and mathematics, for the students who want to become engineers, doctors, scientist, etc. I have no problem with that, I personally love science, but when it’s in a different language and the teachers explain things so fasts that even the students who do speak French can’t grasp a concept, it’s a challenge. First off, the teachers don’t write notes on the boards or have nice power points with pictures for you. They will stand (or sit) at the front and lecture, and you, as a student, are obliged to take notes. I try my best to follow along, but my brain, as of right now, can only to try and keep up with teacher’s sentences, let alone write all the new vocabulary in my notes. It’s only the first two weeks, but I’m pretty happy to know I understand a lot of the material, more than I thought I would. I can listen to a lecture and learn new vocabulary based off the context, but as of right now, I feel my level of French is not advanced enough to explain how canonic form works in math. But I’m pretty excited to see where I will be at the end of the semester. Sometimes I sit in class and think, “Wow, everything around me is in French. My teacher is explaining the way light travels through a lenses in French, and I understand what he’s saying. Do you know how blessed you are to have this opportunity?” Yes it’s hard, but that just proves what kind of person I am. And who I will become. I’ve given up so much to be here, so let’s see how much I can take from here to make up for it. This experience will be worth all my friends’ football/volleyball games I couldn’t watch, birthdays I’ve missed, the holidays with my family. I want this experience to make me a stronger person, to become a better person for them. To become a better person for myself. I don’t deserve this, but it’s happening, and I’m going to make the most out of it.