Landing immigrant: First day of school

I dreaded it for the whole summer, going to school that is. Unlike people who are born and raised here, I didn’t get a slow transition into high school from grade 7 to grade 12. Instead, I was injected into grade 10 alone to learn the rules of the game while the others have already jaded themselves and found their own comfortable niche.

My parents didn’t help me prepare for it, they were as clueless as I was since the administration only speaks French and scoffs at anyone who tries to communicate in English. “Apprenez la langue” they’d tell them.

Back to the topic at hand. It was my first day of school. So, there I stood, in the school yard envious at the crowd of people who knew each others from the year before, smoking, joking and generally merry making. An alarm bell rang and people all went inside. Not knowing what’s happening, I simply followed. I followed them until I realized that they were all going to their own classes. That’s when it dawned on me that I don’t even know my class schedule.

A class where the students dominate the teachers? That defies the very definition of a class.

At that moment of desperation, shame and despair overwhelmed my senses. “Am I going to get punished? What tools do they use to hit their students? They look bigger than the theachers from Taiwan, their slaps must hurt more. I don’t want to get slapped in the face on my first day of school.” Luckily none of my thoughts materialized and a nice secretary, seeing my despair, took me into her office and looked up my file. I was then escorted to my proper class and the rest of the day was a blur. I was just content that besides the initial embarrassment of getting to my class late, everyone seems to be ignoring me.

Later, to my amazement, I watched as the students disrespect their teachers in anyway imaginable and wondered why the teachers don’t call them up front and exercise physical punishment? You probably already know the answer, but to me that was the strangest idea ever. A class where the students dominates the teachers? That defies the very definition of a class.

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