I was actually excited at the prospect of starting school in Geneva for the first time. Wow, first day in sight. The adrenaline was rushing through my veins like electricity.
Our dad as always, went to work by his borrowed motorcycle. Looking at his miserable face, he wasn’t delighted to go to work unlike us, excited bees. Once my mum finished preparing us, we were on our way to a brand new adventure in the beautiful city . As ever, we were admiring our surroundings. The sweet smell of the fresh air invading our nostrils. Patiently waiting for the bus, we admired the tramway so much for some reason. Tramways in Lisbon are usually located in the city and not the suburbs. In Geneva, tramways are everywhere. On our way to our new school we went.
At first, when we arrived at school, all the children only spoke French, which was hard for us as we only spoke Portuguese or creole. French is a very hard language to learn let alone talk. Our parents spoke French fluently and obviously frequently gave us lessons. Once my mum dropped us off to our respective class, she ensured us she was around. Reassured, I went to my classroom. As I settled, I just couldn’t stop admiring the beauty of my teacher. She had short dark blond hair. Her emerald eyes pierced right through me. Her beauty spread through the whole classroom. I’ll learn a lesson for life: looks can sometimes be deceiving.
From the get go, I struggled in school and as a result didn’t fair well at all. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t apply myself, I just did not understand French. The language was a barrier which I struggled to cross. I couldn’t manage completing simple tasks. Even when asked to use a pencil, I would take a colouring pencil instead, often a black one. Inevitably, I didn’t follow any instructions and was getting in trouble often. Soon my notoriety would be known throughout the whole school.
To return to my struggles in class, at the time, the teacher was the sole lessons provider, therefore we couldn’t ask for support and support staff in Geneva then (probably still even now) were non existent. It soon became clear that I wasn’t learning anything. The teacher spotted that and resorted to new measures. So instead of supporting me or finding ways to break things down to support me, her solution was to simply place me at the back of the class. The back of the class consisted of the play area. So from then on, while my classmates were learning, I was playing or reading for the whole day. At first, of course I found it fun and even looked forward to go to the classes as all I did was play. I also used to read books, well attempting anyway.
Suddenly, I realised what was happening right under my nose: all my classmates at the front were physically as well as mentally ahead of me, while I was left behind. I felt like an outsider, like the odd one out after a while. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make friends in class. It resulted in my playtime being so boring. I was at fault sometimes as when other children approached me, I couldn’t communicate with them. I would kick and sometimes bite them simply because they couldn’t understand me. This frustration of mine was a time bomb waiting to explode further.
Clearly things were not going well. I was missing home, Lisbon and I just wanted to return to my source of comfort; my dad. My dad was the only person who understood me, accepted me the way I was and he was the only person who knew me inside out. My dad simply knew what I like and what I didn’t. He knew how to console me unlike my teacher, the nuns or my mum who were always nagging. My dad was my rock and in a way I was his distraction for when he came back downhearted from work. Despite the unconditional love from my dad and mum, I wasn’t making myself any favours either. However, my teacher was concerned of my progress and addressed the issues to my worried mum.
My behaviour started being poor and my progress too. My teacher suggested for me to redo the year. Not only was I slowly cast away completely from my classmates, but I would inherit my sister’s friends. My sister would have to redo a year also. The suggestion I believe was what the teacher thought would be best.
I had mixed feelings of course. On one hand, I’d have the same teacher so I’d be guaranteed my comfort blanket. On the other hand,
while my classmates will move up to the next year, I wouldn’t and will literally remain behind. This outsider stigma would always stay with me always. To put it simply I was a black sheep. Soon, I would identify that stigma to my favourite characters in books, films and animation. To sum up, my first excitement on starting a new school in Geneva ended in disaster. Sadly, I’d experience worse in schools as my defiance and bad behaviour would feed from the bad experiences I would be forced to received at the hand of those who were supposed to support me