What an odd way to title a blog post. What can I possibly write about in this post? Well, let me explain it to you. I moved to England in 2004 from the Netherlands/Holland (whatever floats your boat). I was 10 going on 11 in a foreign country and did not understand the words that escaped people’s mouth. I didn’t understand English, and why should I have? I was living a nice live in Holland, let me remind you I was 10 and all I cared about was Cartoon Network, K3 (a Belgian singing group) and sweets, lots of them. I wasn’t even that bothered about school. I just went, saw my friends, learn a few things, come home, do a bit of homework although I must mention that Holland and probably other European countries are not that strict with homework for children in Primary/Elementary school so I didn’t even have that much homework to worry about. For the rest of the day, all I genuinely cared about was having a good time.
Anyway, of course all this changed at the tender age of 10. My siblings were enrolled to a Primary school nearby but that school didn’t have a place for me in year 6 (which I think is 5th grade in US/Canada). So I had to be enrolled in another school, and I was alone. Imagine walking into a classroom, sitting down and the teacher introducing the class to you in a language you cannot understand. I was also bullied a bit. At the start, I would hide during ‘playtime’ because I didn’t want to be spotted alone and be a target. So yes, I did the lame thing and tried to camouflage. Soon, I did make a few friends. In particular, this Indian girl who was the sweetest and we would listen to Britney Spears’ album ‘In The Zone’ with that huge CD Walkman. I still do not understand how we communicated. Perhaps I spoke better than I remember. I also met a few others girls who were nice but the bullying sort of persisted to the point that my mother came in. After my mother’s appearance, it did subside a little bit except for the time one girl threatened to kill me because I had a big mouth. I may not have spoken English well then but even as a 10 year old, I knew what it meant when someone brings their index finger to their neck and drags it across. I spent a total of 4 months there before summer break came along in July. In September, I started High School*
Oh, high school. There are no words to describe high school. It was tough but I met my absolute best friends there to whom I still speak to this day. But at the beginning, as you can imagine it was tough. I was just starting to make sense of English. I could communicate better now. I could say longer sentences and a bit more depth than the previous “yes/no/maybe” answers. But, school work was catching up to me. In Holland, I was not used to much homework and now I saw myself having so much to do after school. I was overwhelmed basically. My lack of English was only addressed in primary school by forcing me to attend English classes but in high school, they completely overlooked it. So here I was, dealing with the challenges that come with going to high school anyway plus working extra hard to understand what was going on in class and missing my country and also undergoing puberty.
I don’t know when it happened, but one day I saw myself reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I think it was in my English class that I saw the book on the shelf and I asked my teacher whether I can borrow it. Soon enough, I was hooked on the series. I saw that I was improving my reading and my English speaking abilities were going through the roof. I must have read the first book about 6 times before I made a start on the others. I was obsessed. I started writing Harry Potter fan fiction at about the age of 12, the internet was becoming a bit more accessible then so I would spend my time on the internet, reading about Harry Potter and the casts’ lives. But one thing did stand out for me and that was Hermoine Granger.
You see, in the books, Hermoine was portrayed as a successful young girl. She would study, she abided to the rules and she was a wonderful person to be around with. So the next time a test came up, I decided to study like Hermoine. I did and I remember jumping 3 grades in my science test. My teacher was amazed. I was amazed. We were all amazed. After that, I was addicted. I would study and deliver, study and succeed, study and become known as the star student in my class. At this point, my English was good. I scored high in my English Literature assignments. My teacher would always comment on how much I improved and that she had never seen a student make such a jump in such a short space of time. Little did she know, Hermoine pushed me and I got far.
I became the top student in my English class, regularly scoring near full marks in all assignment with the exception of one time actually scoring full marks! Not everyone was pleased for me though. One boy disliked me simply because he wanted to be the best but little did he know, Hermoine pushed me and I got far.
I completed high school and received the award of the Highest Achiever in the whole year group. I was happy. I knew I had it in me but my circumstances didn’t start off great. My primary school test results were low, very low. I remember sitting in the exam and just doodling. I had no idea what I was doing. And 5 years later, I was the highest achiever. And I had Hermoine to be thankful to.
*In the UK, High school starts in year 7 (equivalent of 6th grade) and end in year 11 (10th grade). Then students proceed to College for two years and then you start University at the minimum age of 18.