By Aneesh Chatterjee
After immigrating to Canada, my first worry was school. I never knew what schools in Canada would be like. Whenever I thought about it, I always pictured long, wide hallways with shiny tiled floors and countless brightly-colored lockers and crawling with students. The thought of what a classroom might look like never actually crossed my mind, though. I always pictured those hallways. Much different form my school back in India, where our lockers were actually our desks, and the hallways were actually balconies, opening out to the grayish-blue sky.
It was like plunging into a deep lake on my first day. And the worst part was that I couldn’t swim! Everything was so new, so different, and so tough, that I almost lost myself in an attempt to blend in to the environment. I forgot that being yourself can be your biggest asset. It took me a couple of months to realize it. I have to admit that my new “personality” almost changed me into a rude, angry and sulking person who couldn’t take a joke. Almost. I caught myself just in time at around February.
And, I felt a bit of unexplained joy when my locker started to feel homely. One good thing about joining the school weeks after term started was that I didn’t have to share my locker with anyone! I had my own, personal space which felt like a place I could trust (mostly because of the heavy lock hanging from it) but also because the people here were so honest and nice.
Every teacher here was a guide and friend, both of which I needed back then. Leaving the few guides I had back in India and finding new ones here was certainly something to go through. And although the system was much easier, it was still quite difficult to grasp the new style of learning.
Now that I am somewhat accustomed to the new styles, the next big thing – and fear – is high school. I’m scared that I might find myself in that jumped-into-a-lake-and-can’t-swim position again. But high school is about four months away, so I don’t feel I have anything to think or worry about right now except my life in my current school.
But even as this school seemed amazing to me during my initial days here, there was one thing it didn’t have yet: friends. I missed my friends more than anything when I used to roam around the field at recess alone, lost in my thoughts. Not that I had many friends, though. I’m not the kind of person who thinks they’ve made a friend just because they’ve said a simple “hello” to some nobody. Which is probably why I didn’t have many friends to begin with. But the few I had were as close to me as my own life. And, I remembered how I used to spend time with them during recess back in India, while I walked around the edge of the fields in the snow during the last winter. I had made a promise to myself not to tell anyone about this, because I was sure I would make a friend one day or the other. At least, I hoped. Later on in the year however, I admitted this to the school counselor. She recommended I try to make friends at a meeting that took place on Tuesdays. I have to say, it really helped. I have finally made a friend.
However, even now, there are moments when I feel like I don’t quite fit in. I try my best to blend into the environment. I know it’s going to take a long time before I feel at home, but – heck – I’ve got all the time in the world.
Published in Generation Next on 27 May 2010
This poignant copy was written by my son after our migration to Canada. He is now made the transition and will soon be joining university. He now has quite a few friends. The honest writing above may help a lot of kids make such a transition and adjust to a new country. You may share this in case it helps anyone.
(Aneesh is also the author of a futuristic novel, Requiem of Supremacy, written and published in London, UK, at the age 15, after coming to Canada.)