A Completely Different Lifestyle

Primer premio en la categoría senior del I Concurso de relato corto

I have never been before in a boarding school this far of my home. At the beginning I thought it was a horrible idea but it is true that coming to the States will be a great opportunity to change my usual environment and it will be something that will make me more successful in the future.

My mother during June told me:

“Ignacio your father and I think it would be a good idea if you finish high school somewhere else”

“What?” “I’m not moving from here Mom.” I answered really angry.

My mother said “But Ignacio you need to improve your English.”

“No Mom that is not going to happen.” “Never, never and never.”

I thought it was just an idea, so I didn’t really care about it but it was much more serious. Finally I decided to come here, to KUA.

When my parents told me that I was going to the United States I thought about big cities, many people and basically a lot of fun (because the only places of the States that I visited before are New York and Miami). But I was going to a new State where I have never been before, New Hampshire, and when I arrived I noticed that I was completely wrong.

It is true that I couldn’t notice this until I started looking through the window of the KUA bus going to the School because I only saw a few cars in the road (no cars at seven in the afternoon was strange for me), forests and more forests. When you are far away from your environment you always need someone who understand what is happening and someone you feel comfortable with, I mean someone who speaks the same language as you. When I was at the bus the only ones travelling with me were Chinese and Korean kids.

No one talked to me and so I didn’t talk to any of them (I was really scared about this whole idea of new people from different countries, cultures, etc…). So I just wanted to meet some Spanish kids or even someone who spoke the same language as me. I thought the entire ride, if there were going to be any nice Spanish kids in the school, because I knew that someone else from Spain was coming to KUA. I met Miguel in the airport but I thought he was really weird and strange (I never thought we were going to become best friends in here).

When I arrived to KUA it was a little bit late, because the bus got lost and we drove for almost two more hours. When I finally arrived to the school I looked at my room and I said: “What is this?” I spent the next 10 minutes trying to put all my clothes in the draws (The draw, because there was only one). Then someone knocked in my door, and when I opened a Spanish kid, Arturo, was there. He went to KUA during summer so he knew a lot about the school (how it works, how is the people, etc…).

We talked for hours:

“How is KUA man?” I said pretty scared about the answer.

“It is not bad, I mean it gets better and better” “Just wait until everything is settled and you will be fine”, he said.

“I want to back home as soon as possible” and since the beginning of the year I started counting how many days were left for vacations. I just wanted to leave from this place.

I went to bed really late that day because my horary was completely changed and I slept awful. The next morning I met my roommate who is not at the school anymore (he left during the winter season). He seemed to be a nice kid the first days but when I started living with him everything changed and he became rude and mean. He never talked to me when we were together in the room so I decide to change roommates. I just though everything was getting worst and worst. I wanted to get out from KUA in that moment; I hated to be in here.

My Experience at KUA

#&!!%(/!! And other words that can’t be repeated. That was my first impression of KUA. Out in the middle of the mountains, with absolutely nothing around us. No shops, no cafes. Nothing.

That first week, I was alone in my room in a state of total rebellion. I skipped all my classes and avoided the cafeteria. Ordering in pizza and Chinese food, I didn’t have to leave my room. I stayed in bed. Sleep was my escape.

There were so many new things to get used to. Do check-ins. Go to bed at a certain hour. Mandatory Study Hall. After skipping so many classes, I received an email from Mr. Weidman saying that we needed to talk. Afraid that I was heading for a lot of trouble, I reluctantly went to meet him in his office.

However, Mr. Weidman greeted me kindly.

“Hi, how are you? Do you like the school so far?”

My answer wasn’t completely honest. Something like, “okay, not bad.”

Then he got to the point.

“I know that in Spain teaching and learning is completely different from here, but you need to get used to these habits because it’s the way this school works.”

Although I knew that Mr. Weidman was trying to be sympathetic, his words scared me. This was something completely new. It seemed like so much work, to change my lifestyle. In Spain, I didn’t have to do check-ins, I didn’t have to do anything. All I had to do was go to school, do my work, come back, and that’s it.

However, I promised Mr. Weidman that I would try to do better.

At the beginning of each year, the school takes new students on a mandatory class trip to the mountains. Despite my recent promises, when I arrived at my campsite, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I had never been camping before in my life, and we were out in the middle of the forest. We were told that bears sometimes come to that area. I was sleeping with spiders hanging over my face. About 2:00 in the morning, the mosquitoes and other nasty insects drove me and the other Spanish students into the bus. This experience changed everything, when I started meeting new people who quickly became my friends.

From that moment, my life at the school flowed much more smoothly. Getting along with these people helped me to cope. Most of the other international students are also juniors. At the meetings and other events, we were always together.

Looking back, I am really happy with the way teachers and staff from the school recognized my effort.  It is true that I started with low grades and horrible behavior, and I knew that what I was doing wasn’t the correct thing. At the beginning of the second semester, my grades were dismal, but I started thinking about the fantastic experience that I am living and decided to turn things around. I still had two more terms to keep improving, and that is what I did. Many of the teachers (not all of them) appreciated –and still appreciate– my effort based on hard work and perseverance. At the end of the second term, Mr.Tapley talked with me:

“Ignacio I am really impressed with you results”

“Thank you”; I said really fast, because I already knew that I improved a lot.
He answered me; “You should be proud of it and keep going in this line.”

“I want to get the best possible grades in all subjects”. “I like that attitude”

At the beginning of the year, I thought that KUA wasn’t the perfect place for me but I was wrong. KUA has definitely changed me in a good way. I’m more responsible, and I know what to do and what not to do. Coming to this school has made me more ready for life.

Ignacio Borregón

(cursando un año escolar en Estados Unidos con Astex durante el curso 2011‑2012)

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