After all, life is about changing. Changes bring novelties. Looking back the past nine years, I never settled.
In 2005, shortly after graduating from middle school, at the age of 15, I joined a one-year American high school exchange program. There off I went to Wixom, Michigan, and attended Wall Lake Western as a sophomore. I did not speak much English, honestly. My German host sister who was also an exchange student at the time and shared the room with me taught me what mean and awesome meant.
That year, I was terrible in English that I got a C for American History class and a B- for English. I couldn’t even finish To Kill a Mockingbird. I tried to run away from the Chemistry class because I was afraid of group projects and discussions. American high schools were all about having friends in class. I didn’t know how to make friends. To avoid awkward moments, I went to the McDonald’s next to the school. I did it once. Soon enough, I realized I was in a one-year program and couldn’t get out of it anyway. It was time to face it.
Then I met Vanessa. It was when we exchanged our locker passcode and put notes in each other’s locker between classes. We now both have a whole binder of notes we exchanged during the school year. It was the good old days.
As we hung out more, I got to speak more English. I got fluent without noticing it. I forgot when I started saying wanna and gonna instead of want to and going to. One time, Vanessa and I decided to watch Pirates of the Caribbean. She paused after every other sentence and explained to me, given the fact I didn’t speak much English and it was difficult to understand English in other accents.
Who knows the girl who was so scared of talking to peer students and with passing grade now graduated with a degree in News-editorial Journalism as major and History as minor. Yeah, I know, right?
English used to be a subject for me. It was a subject I learned from school and with that, I passed classes and moved on to the next grade.
But now I speak English. Not only I speak it, I dream it, write it, edit it and also proofread it.
It’s like Chicago to me some times. When I first visited Chicago as a high school exchange student, Chicago was just a touristic place. I quickly shopped through Michigan Avenue, went to the Six Flags, took a mandatory picture at the Cloud Gate, aka the bean, and wandered down Navy Pier. That was all I wanted to do and did.
Throughout college, I visited Chicago multiple times. I still thought it was just a place to visit for fun. Chicago’s streets were new to me every time. When I walked out of the Union Station, I was lost all the time. I didn’t know which way was which. It was an adventure all the time.
Until in the recent two years, I want to find a job in Chicago and settle here. I look up to those condo buildings and want to be belonged to one of those a few windows and a balcony. As I am in Chicago to visit friends and have interviews, I actually got more familiar with its geography. I could walk to where I want to go. I walk out of the Union Station, and I immediately know which way to get to whichever directions I need to head towards. It’s a strange feeling of learning a city. But this strange feeling gives me more confident and courage to explore Chicago and it’s employment opportunities. It give me motivation to reach out. It’s a good feeling actually.
It’s a change of mind I see in myself in the last decade.
It’s a throwback Thursday! Yet, Happy Blogging!