It all started when my father came home, to Romania that is, for the first time since he fled the country, and he said to me "You " re going to America... ". I was emotionally aroused on the outside, but inside I was screaming. How will I communicate with others if I don't speak English. I won't have any friends, I'll be lonely.
That feeling of emptiness stayed with me 'til this day So we finally arrived at JFK Airport scared out of my mind. Getting in the plane it felt like I'm entering a new different world where I was lost and had to find my way back somehow. In my pocket I had a small dictionary that didn't help much. The communication between the flight attendant and myself was more of a sign language then words.
She was self-controlled and willing to explain the emergency procedure in any way she could so I'd understand it. When I wanted a drink I'd point out someone else's. In other words we found a common language to comprehend what we were saying. It was summer time, school was out, so for the next couple of months I lacked myself inside and waited. Being in that room felt like a prison where the bars had no language. My daily routine was watching television, which it didn't make much sense.
It was like watching without the volume. The only understanding from movies was the main subject. Getting tired of watching television, I would go to the window where all I could see was people sitting outside, some having intense Conversations, by the body language they were using; some laughing at a joke that maybe one of them said; and some just enjoying playing ball with their children and the expression on their faces would say it all. Finally school open. I still remember walking into my first class of English as a second language, feeling just like taking an animal from its environment and try to accommodate it to a totally different one. My class consisted of international students, of course, which none of them spoke English.
That made it even harder to give me a sense of belonging. The teacher that I had was international herself, so she made sure that we were getting the meaning of each little word she was saying. One rule she made us understand was "no dictionary of your own language is aloud in this class room except an English one". That for me was the best tactic she used, because it forced my mind to try and understand the meaning of one word.
The next best thing she did was to bring to class a series of books, headed one to each one of us and said "Reading this book and understand the subject of it, means you are ready to start with baby steps instead of just crawling". Well here I am now, writing a paper for my English class in college, isn't that something. I can honestly say that it was quite an adventure for me to get here. I don't have one.