My First Day of School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Fear started taking over. I was walking into my first school in America. I had traveled a long distance from India in order to join my mother, who had been here for three years, hoping America would help my future. My father decided that I would be better off going to school here, so I enrolled in the local high school in my new town.

I was afraid how I would do. I didn’t know anybody in my classes. On the first day, I went to my second period class after
I had missed my first. I was already confused because in India the teachers switch according to periods while most of the students have the same periods.

With anxiety on one hand and fear on the other, I reached for the door knob, opening it slowly. Everyone’s eyes were on me as I entered the room. Without paying attention to them, I went straight to the teacher and asked if this was the right class. With a soft voice he answered, “Yes.” His voice comforted me a little. He gave me a sheet called Course Requirements, which I would never get in India because we didn’t have anything like that. Then he asked me to choose where I would sit. I chose the seat closest to the door instead of the corner where all of the boys were sitting. I didn’t actually want to pick a seat. In India we had assigned seats, so I never needed to worry about that. I spent the rest of the class taking notes from the image produced by the overhead projector. In Indian schools, we didn’t use the technology we had. We had to take notes as the teacher spoke.

Since it was my first day, I was confused which hallway to use, but I managed to get to my classes without asking anyone. I was very confused about when I would have lunch. It was noon. I went to my next class and the bell rang as I entered. I went through the regular process of asking the teacher if I was in the right class. She said, “It’s still fourth period.”

“But the bell just rang,” I said.

Changing from a gentle tone to a harsher one, she said, “That is the lunch bell.” I apologized. Without another word I headed for the cafeteria. I felt lucky because we didn’t have this in India. Every confusion seemed like an obstacle I had to get through to reach my goal. At the end of the day, I was on my way to the bus which we didn’t have in India either. I spotted my bus and sat down inside happily. I was thinking, Today wasn’t so bad.

As time passed that year, I developed some friendships and started to love my school. I found out that U.S. citizens have many opportunities but not everyone is using them. Some people take them for granted, not realizing that other countries are struggling.

The teachers had a fun way of making hard things so easy that a three-year-old could do them. The teachers in my home country had a more strict way of saying things. We also had much longer school days in India – 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – while in America school was 7:30 to 2:30. The main difference I found in America is the amount I learned each day. In the U.S. schools I learned a lot less material. So, I had more prior knowledge than most of the kids in my class, which gave me an advantage. Because of these educational opportunities I feel I am the luckiest person in the whole world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 42 comments. Post your own now!

jessi 1200 said...
May 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm
it was a little bit nice  it is long. i didn`t like it
Jaguargang replied...
Oct. 9, 2014 at 9:51 am
well i liked it.
cynthia/cyn said...
Apr. 28, 2014 at 10:13 am
it really reminds of me when i started my school in Malaysia
Sadhvi D. said...
Apr. 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm
This essay was really good....You showed out whatr you really felt bro...
throughhim21 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 28, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Your essay made me think of my little brother Henry. He was adopted from China when he was fourteen. He's homeschoolded now, but he had to start public school without speaking English and practically no previous schooling. Even though I was born in America, I know what you mean about having a head start in academics. I tried public school in seventh grade (I'm homeschooled) and quit after the first semester because I didn't feel challenged. I'm lucky to have that choice. Anyway, ... (more »)
Chloe said...
Mar. 5, 2014 at 1:18 am
It is a nice and well written story. So,it reads well even to non-native speakers of English. I am a high school English teacher in South Korea. On the first day of this sememster, which was two two days ago, I shared with this story with my students. They all enjoyed it. We wonder the gener of this essay. Based on the content, I had a guessing game, but we couldn't reach the conclusion. Would you please let us know the gender of this piece? Thanks a lot! 
Deej6595 said...
Nov. 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm
I really liked your story. This is very good for anyone who is going to a new school nevermind a new country. It was short and the beginning was great. Great job and best of luck!
pinklove said...
Sept. 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm
This reminds me of the first time i came to america! i came from Honduras, it was really hard to learn english and i was completely lost!But now i love it!i came around when i was 7 years old,now im 15.
TheAnonymousKid said...
Aug. 28, 2013 at 7:04 am
I don't know which school you were in, in India, because I never heard of any school getting over at 5:30. Mine starts at 7:45 and ends at 1:45.  And yes, I really like your artlce.
ElodieParis said...
Aug. 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm
I also recently moved to the US from India and really identified with your story even if my nationality is not Indian 
Dakota88zxc said...
Sept. 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm
The whole time I kept on thinking how rough it must of been. Then I realized this was a non-fiction story. You're really strong. And the story was also written very nicely.
maameyaatima12 said...
Jun. 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm
my first day was horrible but thank God i was with my sister that first dayso it was kind off okay.From Africa to America was a very huge differneve in my life and a very hard one.But i was looking forwad to a great future and accomplishing my goal.So many oppournities in America Than my home country.Ghana.American are so lucky but most of them just ignore all this and forcus on been useless.Im Glad a good chapter of my life begin like this.Im greatful and appreciate my faimily every single time.
IAmWhoIWantToBe said...
Apr. 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Yes, you're lucky. I'm in the Philippines and I actually want to study in America. Too bad I'm not that priviledged...


Avandev said...
Feb. 26, 2012 at 4:09 am
A very nice piece :) I can relate to how you feel, cause i'm going through it right now. the difference is that my family isn't here with me, so that makes you a little bit luckier than me i guess :P
Thinker said...
Dec. 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm
I liked this. It made me think of when a boy named Sai K. moved to our school in Pennsylvania. I wonder if this is how he felt....I never thought about it before.
Hira123 said...
Oct. 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm
Thank you for writing this wonderful essay and I like your first day of school letter because it helped me learning how to write good essay.
1,2 jeade vieve s. replied...
Nov. 20, 2011 at 7:16 am

i really like your essay it helps me a lot.

i inspired your letter


Saffy96 said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm
Reminds me of my first day at school in a new country. It was the strangest thing!
ShiGui said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm
I felt the same nervous feeling the first day of middle school. I didn't know where all my classes were and some of the other students in the school. As the years went by I started to know where all my classes were and some other students.
Aoi อ้อย said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm
Thank  you to giving us a good essay. It helps me a lot in English class.
sam said...
Sept. 22, 2008 at 10:52 pm
I like your first day of school letter.
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