First Days

As a kid, I dreaded going to school on the first day. Even now, that dread is still there. i hate schoolOne of the things that tend to escalate that dread is when my mom doesn’t let me relax on that last day before the first day. I hate it when she drives me crazy on that last day with questions.

Do you have everything you need? What about lunch? Don’t forget to ask the teacher! Don’t forget to set your alarm extra early! Don’t forget your books!

Oh, stop being such a worry-wart and stop treating me like a kid preparing for preschool!

It reminds me so much of my first time going to Knott’s Berry Farm with my step-dad. It took us almost 30 minutes before we could finally leave and be on our way.

All her stupid questions makes me very cranky on my first day because my last day got disrupted.  But that’s now. I used to have a love/hate relationship with the first day of school when I was attending elementary school in China because in China, especially in elementary school, first day of school is all about passing out notebooks and all kinds of goodies. But it also meant that gigantic assignment which we were assigned for the summer was due.

You see, in China, school typically runs from September to July, with a month vacation in the middle for New Year and Chinese New Year. There is no official summer school, except for the learning centers. However, just because there’s no school during the summer doesn’t mean there’s no homework. I heard it explain once that because schools were afraid we lose our knowledge during our summer fun, so they assigned each student a big fat workbook to occupy their summer. Each page of this workbook is about 11-by-17 (inches), filled with questions and problems that went on and on.

The idea was to occupy our entire summer, for us to not have any fun and of course, keep all that knowledge trapped in my minds. The questions and problems were ranged from easy to medium to difficult. The difficult problems, at times, would take a long time to complete. I would spend most of my summers stuck at my stingy grandparents’ home all day under the near 100% humidity heat doing those problems.

After I came to the U.S., I spent my summers in summer school. Not because I was a bad student but because my mom and step-dad didn’t want to babysit me at home and they didn’t want me to be bored. The classes in summer school are typically remedial, English grammar I learned during my first summer and math I learned in first and second grade.

It made me the smartest person in the class. I had fun though, doing puzzles everyday as well as assisting my teacher. My teacher and I also played cards (war or 21) with a few other bored students like me. We even watched movies and have parties.

The only two summers I didn’t attend summer school were my junior and senior years in high school because the school administrators said I had to pay to get in and mom doesn’t want to spend and well, I graduated in my senior year.

Right now, I’m in grad school and I think I’ve been in college long enough to what is expected on the first day of school. Typical things like syllabus, introduction, first lecture and fear of walking into the wrong class which usually would have my heart racing crazily.

On the first day of grad school (August 25, 2014), I was faced with a new first day challenge, finding parking. That day, as I arrived on campus, I discovered that every single space in every parking lot was taken. Even the streets were lined with cars. If the curb wasn’t painted red, there’s a car. Even though I left one and half hours before my class began and I only live 30 minutes away, I still managed to be late to class by 10 minutes. Yup, I spent 30 minutes driving there and an hour to find parking.

In the end, after rushing into a random and asking, almost begging a stranger to direct me to a parking with actual parking spaces, I found myself to have to park 8 blocks away. Fortunately, there was a shuttle to take me back to the school. From there, I have to find my way to my class. Fortunately, there’s always one of those kind people that would guide a new confused student to their class.

Having experienced this challenge, I now know just the place for parking on the first day of school.

Daily Prompt – August Blues

Image Credit: Google Image
Written and published on 8/27/2014
Revised and updated on 8/5/2015

5 thoughts on “First Days

  1. Great post Yinlang. I enjoy reading posts about life in China. I learned all the languages I speak now because of frequent school changing. First Russia, then Italy, UK and now Italy again. Studying Chinese now and I had the possibility to spend a month studying in China. Even though a month is a short time, still it was one of the most challenging journeys.


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