One week after I arrived in Portsmouth RI, I was enrolled in the towns high school and found myself sitting in the guidance office looking over the course book to select my first classes. Fear and anxiety dictated that I choose some easy academic classes to give me some time for adjustment to the new curriculum since I was only conversant with the Chinese educational curriculum. Later on I realized there was no such thing as easy to a Chinese girl who has been in America for one week.
As I sat down in my first English class I was overwhelmed to find out that they were reading Julius ceasers play the Shakespeare and by looking at pages full of thy, hath and goest, I felt as if I was studying a new language all the same. I had been put in a situation of almost total isolation since none of my schoolmates or even classmates could easily communicate with me. My ability to have clearly understood conversations with other students suffered because of my limited English speaking skills. This language barrier reinforced my feelings of isolation so I had fewer people to talk to.
This made me feel so depressed inside and I also felt like I was very different from the rest of the people around me. Things got even worse at the end of the third quarter when I received an F in English and this was my first F in any subject in all my ten years of schooling. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my report card and I was a little bit hesitant to show it to my mother. In China, I had always been a straight A student and I were never ranked less than the top three positions amongst an approximately one thousand students in my grade.
I was also favored and respected by my teachers. This F grade in English really shook my confidence but I was really determined to make it an A in the latter end. I felt that I done everything I could and I was worried that maybe this whole thing was just too hard for me. I questioned whether or not I belonged here. (Einstein, 2005) The fighter personality in me arose to the challenge and I vowed to conquer this daunting territory called English Literature. I stayed after with the teacher everyday, asking her if there was anything I could do to improve my English grades.
I reread, reworked and redid my essays. I focused on completely understanding my homework. The results of my efforts were very apparent at the end of my sophomore year; my grade for the third quarter of English was a C+. My final grade was B-. The results of my efforts were reflected in my History grade as well. I had earned an A-. This triumph helped me to realize that I could do better, and incited me to challenge myself more. For the junior year, I signed up to take honors English and History.
With the belief that nothing is impossible, I worked as hard as I could; every essay needed to be rewritten at least two, sometimes three times before it was handed in; The results were again reflective of my hard work; Bs in both English and History. Agreed, they were not the perfect score of A+, but compared to my starting point, the difference was significant and meant a lot to me. I thought that if I could advance this far over the past year, imagine how far I could go in my upcoming Junior and Senior years? I felt satisfied and happy that I did not give up when I felt at my lowest.