School: Part 1
Memories made in school vary as we pass through different phases of life, they either get better or worse. For me, I have had quite a bittersweet experience with school. I was never too bright of a student in elementary school, but I guess I peaked in middle school because I started doing really well all of a sudden and became an instant favourite among teachers. I’ve made solid friends back home with whom I’m very close with to this day. But all good things must come to an end, and mine came in the summer of 2013 when we officially moved to Toronto.
My first interaction with a North American high school was when I attended a high school orientation program hosted for newly immigrated kids. It was exactly like I had seen on screen, individual lockers, cliques and the works. One thing that surprised me was the warmth and welcoming attitude of the peer mentors running the program. It was truly amazing to see how genuinely helpful and patient they were as I tried to get an insight on how high school was really like. Fast forward to couple of weeks and I was trying to find my way to the administration office on a chilly September morning at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute. I’ve never felt so nervous and was struggling to find words even though I had a fairly strong grasp on the English language. It is truly a daunting experience to be thrown into a completely unknown environment and when it is a high school full of judgemental teenagers, it’s straight out of a nightmare.
Although I stayed at BPCI only for a few months, I have never felt more at home. The school was multicultural AF, and there was a huge group of Bangladeshi students who welcomed me with open arms. I also made some really good friends fairly quickly. For the first time it felt like home in this unknown cold place, and other than classes I enjoyed spending time with each of these wonderful people. We barely keep in touch but I’ve seen each of them have grown into amazing human beings, so huge shoutout to y’all who made an anxious and nervous 16 year old feel at ease for those brief two months.
One day I was looking for a place to eat in the cafeteria when I ran into two freshmen students looking for a seat as well. I usually sat a little farther away from where the multicultural club people would sit, I enjoyed their enthusiasm and conversation but I also liked to eat in peace and quiet. The conversation between the two girls went something like this:
-“Hey there’s some seats over there. Let’s sit down!”
-“You don’t want to sit there. That’s the BROWN table.”
The two girls walked away and sat with folks sharing their same skin tone. I was left with my mouth hanging wide open at what I’ve just heard. 16 -year old Bushra clearly thought racism was something that only happened in the US, not in the glorious land of Canada. 16 year old Bushra clearly had a loooong way to go.
My family decided to move to the west end of the city and I was back to the starting point again. My home school was non semester at the time but BPCI had a semester system. After almost two weeks of looking for a school I finally managed to get into Silverthorn Collegiate. It was the complete opposite of BPCI. There were only a couple of hundred students and people dressed better (haha). I’ve become fast friends with some amazing people. SCI had been a pleasant experience for me. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the most amazing teachers (shoutout to Ms Pavlovic and Mr. Barnswell!)and got involved in clubs and sports(my friends back home would be shocked that I played in the school badminton team!). The irony is that I’ve managed to miss every single photo op and can barely be seen anywhere in the school magazine. But I’m glad to have gone there anyway.
There are many things that everyone must do while they’re in high school: attend at least one school game, go to prom, attend the arts showcase etc. The most fun I had was with the Sound and Lighting club, I got to attend many events with them and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The biggest regret was prom. I spent too much money on a dress I didn’t like, I felt bored, the food sucked and the music was crap. Highlights of prom included the amazing Toronto skyline and the fondue station. Also, in the weeks leading up to prom, a guy from one of my classes had been hitting on me and I completely missed it. I actually thought he was being really sweet with me until one day he asked who I was going to prom with. I was completely taken off guard and said no to him. If you haven’t already noticed, I suck at flirting and probably missed out on a promposal(wasn’t looking forward to it though). And I’m genuinely sorry for being an idiot.
Having watched too many teen dramas, I’ve always day dreamed about living my best life at high school. While in reality it was somewhat the opposite, it was alright nonetheless. I’ve managed to graduate mostly unscathed, and I’ve met great people along the way. But to be honest, university is the real deal. It is challenging, scary and will make you miserable, but you also make great friends and memories. But that’s a story for another time.