While walking to school (only 3 short blocks from my house) this morning, I was thinking that my day was already off to a bad start: my host mom made me drink a steaming hot cup of milk, but at least I managed to add hot chocolate to it. When me, my mom and a school official were walking up the stairs to my classroom, I suddenly felt the urge to grab my mom by the sleeve of her jacket and beg her to let me not go to school, I didn´t want her to leave my side (despite our previous milk disagreement). I kissed her goodbye and turned and stood in the doorway next to my first teacher of the day. She asked me if I wanted to speak in Spanish or English and after pausing for a second and quickly thinking between the two options, I replied: Español por favor. She smiled and together we entered the classroom; it was loud and all eyes were on me. Through a group of tall boys who were yelling at each other, a short girl poked her head through and yelled "Hola! Como te llamas?" I shouted my name back and she replied with, "it´s nice to meet you," and I said the same, but in Spanish. I looked around at the rest of the class and loudly said "Buenos dias!" and to my surprise, I received several positive responses. A girl from the far side of the classroom motioned to have me sit next to her since there was an empty seat. As I sat down, the teacher introduced me to the class and I found myself sitting there, in a rather positive state of mind- I was happy to be there.
During class, I was bombarded with questions from the surrounding girls, most of which I didn´t understand. Of course, with introductions one´s name comes up and at this moment all of the students were trying to say my name. After saying it countless times, spelling it and trying to relate my name to some words that they would know, there were a couple of students who were close enough. I told them I had a weird name and they all happily agreed.
When a new teacher would walk into our room, the girls would tell me if they thought that teacher was good or not, I´m glad to report that most of them received good remarks. About half of the teachers recognized that I was a new student, the other half didn´t look at me twice because they thought that I was Peruvian. When I introduced myself to all of my teachers (I have about 13 different ones), most of them gave me approving smiles, and some asked a million and one questions, especially the 4 that are conversational in English.
I quickly noticed how close my class seemed to be, but I guess that´s hard not to do when you share one classroom with the same kids all day, every day. The schedule is interesting and it´s hard to keep up with. We are allowed one 20 minute break at 11:00, which is a snack break (the students eat lunch after school past 2:30) where we get to leave the classroom, other than that, we are required to stay in the same classroom from 7:30-2:30. Between subjects, we don´t actually have an official break, just the time it takes for the teacher to get to our classroom. during these moments, the classroom becomes chaotic due to everyone wanting to jump out of their seats and screw around for the short time that they don´t have adult supervision. All of the breaks included the students jumping out of their seats and surrounding mine. No matter where I looked, I saw the retched uniforms- so awful. I felt a little bit like an animal in a zoo, but I, unlike most zoo animals, actually enjoyed the cage that I was in... it was welcoming and fun.
During one of my classes, a man interrupted it to make an announcement. To my surprise he started off with, "This announcement is for English speaking students, if you don´t know English, you probably don´t understand me righ now anyway." My heart started racing, and I still didn´t know what his actual announcement was about. "There will be our annual Christmas Carol in December and we are currently casting ENGLISH SPEAKING students only for our play, Beauty and the Beast. If you are interested in acting in this play, come to the English office after school this week and you will try out then. Have a good day." You can bet I´ll have a good day! I was so happy to hear this announcement and other students shared their excitement with me, encouraging me to try out and offering to take me to the office after school. The announcement was too good to be true, but I was very confused as to why they were having a play in English, considering most of the teachers and students don´t know it.
Odds & ends:
The bathrooms have no toilet paper, you have to bring your own. No one told me this, so after making this observation on my own before I actually used the restroom, I walked back out to the courtyard and asked the girl that took me under her wing for some. I didn´t know the name for toilet paper in Spanish but I tried anyway, "donde esta el papel del baño?" (where is the paper of the bathroom), in response she pulled out a wad of toilet paper from her pocket and gave me half.
Many schools here have the "Olympics", where each classroom is a different country and they all compete against each other in various sports on every Saturday of September. I plan on participating it it, but I´m annoyed to say that the girls only have three sport options (basketball, running, and volley ball) as compared to the guys who have much more. Every student gets to pick two.
Last, there is a prom, that´s all I know about it. I am in "fifth" grade (12th in the US), and I am "graduating" in December, after that, I´m supposed to go to a university with most of the other exchange students. This is just a rumor that I know of right now, so I´m not getting my hopes up for anything. I get to have 2 graduations!? Dope.