S: Memories of my school life -by Anca Economu
BC: The how-to book of becoming me. This is my life seen from a different perspective than just partying and playing. My life in school, and the most important memories of any school related activities.
FC: Of My School Life | Memories | Anca Economu
1: The past | The past represents a chamber in my head. The only chamber that doesn't have a door. The only chamber that is everywhere else. The past is the one chamber that I can never get out of, no matter how hard I try. Because of my age, my past is made up of my school life. To me, school represents the joy of childhood. Even though at times it can get hard because of too much homework, school is the most important part of everyone's lives. It's the path that everyone has to follow in order to become a person. I see each grade as a brick that makes up that path. In the following pages lie the secrets and feelings behind the joy of building my own path.
2: It was very early in the morning, when I felt my grandmother's sweet voice ringing in my ears, and her warm hand massaging my back through the thin bed sheet I was covered with. I opened my eyes not fully, but just enough to see some sunbeams sinking through the illusion of a curtain flowing against the crystal clear windows. | As I was trying to enjoy the last moments of that warm safe feeling that you get when you lie in bed, my grandmother's voice and her hand on my back were slowly pulling me out of my dreaming mode and into the real life. For a few seconds I closed my eyes and waited for my grandmother to call my name again. I didn't know what she was waking me up for and I was very confused. As I heard her once again calling my name, she started blabbering about something. There was nothing in particular that appealed to my ears. And then,as I opened my eyes to pull the bed sheet over my head, I saw her mouth as they were preparing to shape a word that seemed unknown. | Me and my fried, Steffi | Chapter 1: First day of school
3: When I was smaller, I used to have this passion for reading people’s lips, instead of listening to what they were saying. This did get me in trouble a few times during the following years, but I never stopped doing it. There was a time when my teacher even thought I had hearing problems, but the truth is, I was only concentrating on looking at the way people’s mouths would move according to what they were saying. Well, I was listening to them, but I wasn’t really processing what they were saying. As I was watching my grandmother, my eyes now fully opened, I had a flashback, and remembered how I used to watch people’s mouths when they talked, and how the question “Are you listening?” would be a natural part of any of my conversations. The word she was saying was “school”. At first, I had no idea why she was talking about school. I got up instantly as I remembered that it was my first day of school. It was the beginning of my proper social life! I was going to meet new people and make a ton of friends! As soon as I got out of bed to go brush my teeth, there was this excitement filling me up. It was like all the sleepiness in my head had turned into adrenaline, and as soon as I was standing, the adrenaline started flowing from my head towards the rest of my body. This excitement vanished away as soon as I saw my face in the mirror.
4: I finally got to my bag. It was full of new notebooks, pencils, pens, and other supplies that I needed. They were all stuffed in my big Barbie backpack that I was so proud of. I couldn't wait until I actually had to use those supplies. My happiness level was way higher than ever. It was finally time to get into the car and leave to school. I got into the car as my mother was talking to me. I was so nervous and my heart was beating so fast that I was practically deaf. I didn't hear my mom talking to me. I was lost in my own little world, happy that I was finally going to school. To me, going to school was like reaching a higher level of maturity. Once I go to school the big crowd in front of the school scared me. There was thousands and thousands of people. It was the first time in my life when I’ve seen a crowd bigger than ten people. As soon as I got out of the car the crowd swallowed me up. I got really scared and I started looking for my mom. She was gone. I started yelling and yelling and elbowing everyone to make space for me to get through. It seemed as if I was lost in the big crowd for hours. At one point a pretty middle aged woman with dark hair and dark eyes came to me. She was looking at me and smiled. She got down on her knees and put her hands on my shoulders and then shook me a bit. “You seem pretty lost.”
5: And I was, indeed very lost. But the sweet voice of the woman calmed me down and I knew I could trust her to take me back to my mom. We were walking through the enormous crowd and it was then when I realized how tiny I was.. As we were getting closer and closer to one of the groups of children, i could recognize a pair of shoes underneath everything. I had a flashback from 3 weeks before: "<
6: As soon as my mom introduced me to my teacher they put me in line right behind this tall blond boy. Behind me was a girl just a tad bit taller than me. I turned around to introduce myself and as soon as I looked at her I recognized a very familiar face. It was my mother's uncle's next door neighbor's daughter. I would play with her every time I visited him and we were really good friends. Her name is Steffi. We were both surprised when we discovered that we were going to be in the same group in school. As we were jumping around, talking about how excited we were, I saw this freakishly tall girl talking to the cute boy in front of me. I recognized her instantly without having to see her face. I knew it was Cristiana, my best friend from kindergarten. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her standing there in the same group as me. This was better than perfect. My two best friends were in the same group as me and we didn't even know about it. All three of us gathered up and formed a little circle. We started talking about other people and how we liked our new classmates.
7: At one point, though, I noticed that the big crowd of parents and children around us got really quiet. We kept on talking and after about 30 seconds we realized that everyone was looking at us. I didn't know why at first, but I saw that there was an old man up on some sort of stage holding a microphone. That was when all three of us realized that he was trying to make an announcement. After a few minutes the announcement was over and our teachers guided us through the big crowd to our classrooms. I was surprised at the prettiness of our classroom. It was a really tall type of room, with big windows. There were five tables surrounded by 5 chairs each and one smaller table in the back for our two teachers, I supposed. The walls were decorated with crafts, maps, pictures of numbers and letters and flowers. There were plants everywhere. In the right corner of the big rectangular classroom there was a small shelf with books on it. Everything about this classroom was pretty and cozy.
8: Our female teacher, Mrs. Bold went to the front of the classroom and introduced him to us. “Good morning, class. This is your second teacher, Mr. Blidaru. “ We were all sitting down on the carpet in a big semi-circle while the two teachers were reading what it said on the big piece of paper at the front of the class. The sheet of paper was sort of like the news. And they informed us that we were going to have one every Monday from that day on. | Finally after we entered the classroom and took a look at it, a middle-aged tall man with gray hair came into the classroom and carried a big sheet of paper with something written on it to the front of the classroom.
9: After “the news of the day”, we were assigned seats and I went to mine. We then had to write some words on a sheet of paper and I was surprised to see that only a few kids were able to do it, including me. I always wanted to learn how to read and write and so I asked my grandmother to teach me when I was about 5 and a half years old. She taught me the alphabet song and showed me what each letter was. She then gave me a little book containing a few Romanian children's stories and I learned how to read. After about 6 months of exercising I could read fluently and write as well. I don't even remember what happened after having to write down those five words. I guess I was just too excited that day, so I forgot everything. All I remember is getting home, and taking my pretty outfit off. At the end of the day I realized how much I disliked that pretty dress, because I was practically boiling in it. My first day of school was probably the most amazing day in my life and also the day when my life actually started.
10: This is a picture of me and one of my friends when we were in third grade, at a winter concert.
11: Chapter 2: First four grades The next 4 years passed by so fast, that I don't even remember them. I only have a few memories and those are only about things such as camps, trips, and special days. I remember very clearly some things that happened in first grade, though. I remember that we used to have special rules and responsibilities and that we were like a little community. The memory that is clearest to me is that of us choosing the tables we were going to sit at. I remember that each table had a different color and that there was a diagram of all the tables at the front of the class. Each of us had a little envelope with 5 different colored post its. Every Monday morning each of us would have to go to the diagram and stick a post it on it.
12: The schedule that we had was very entertaining and it encouraged everyone to be involved and to participate in class. Our day would start at 8 o'clock in the morning and end at 4 o'clock in the evening. We had a lunch break from 12 to 2, when we would go to a cafeteria in the school's campus. At around 2 we would be back into our pretty little classroom, to learn some more. Most of my memories from the first four years of school come from our 2 hour lunch break. That's when most of the drama happened. The funny thing about it is that we used to call it lunch break, even though we would only spend about 20 minutes eating and the rest of the time we would spend eating. I remember that every autumn we used to make huge piles of all the leaves that have fallen out of the big trees surrounding the playground and dive into them. Every summer we would bring balloons to school, fill them with water and throw them at each other. Every spring, we used to have a handball competition and Mr. Blidaru was our coach. Every winter we would bring our sleighs to school and pull each other through the big piles of snow.
13: Another very pleasant memory is that of preparing for the spring and winter performances. Every Christmas and every Easter, the teachers would help us set up short skits about the four seasons. As I’m looking back upon it, those skits were very original and the level of performance was a lot higher than that of an average 7,8,9 or 10 year old. I was always winter in these little skits. My mom used to make me dresses for these skits every year, from her bride dress. Each year she would take it to someone who would change it into different forms. I still have the last version of it, and every time I see it I think of how many changes that fabric has gone through.
14: The funniest experience I had was in fourth grade, when I used to go to one of our family friends’ house for about 2 hours before my grandpa came and picked me up. Her apartment was about 10 minutes of walking away from school and it was really fun because there were more people living in the same neighborhood that I would go to her apartment with. I remember there was someone who lived on the ground-floor and they had a little dog. They would leave the dog stay on the hallway, outside of the actual apartment and he would bark at everyone. Even though he was really tiny, he had a very scary bark. That tiny dog is the reason I start running like the ground is on fire every time I hear a bark. My first four years of school emphasized the foundation of what I am today. My two teachers, Mrs. Bold and Mr. Blidaru were like my parents; they taught me how to write, how to do add and how to subtract, and many other things. They were basically my guidance to what I do and who I am today.
15: I found out that I was going to move away from my hometown when I came to visit my mom in Bucharest at the new job that she had been working at for the past three weeks. This was about 2 months before summer vacation and my graduation from 4th grade. When I saw how beautiful her new place was I felt like I wanted to remain there and just not go back at all. But then it struck me that I couldn't just stay and leave my friends; and my two teachers and everyone else I knew in my hometown. I came back and when I told everyone that I was going to move, they were shocked. I have to admit that when I found out that I was going to move and after I actually gave it a lot of thought and realized what was going to happen, only then I realized that I was growing up and once again, I had the feeling that my actual life was going to start once I moved to Bucharest with my mom. Just like I felt in the first day of school. I made the best out of those two months I had left with my friends. I can't remember any moments when I felt sad about my leaving. I knew and my family had explained it to me that I had many more opportunities in Bucharest than I did in Buzau.
16: Even though I was only about 10 and a half years old and my mom didn't expect me to understand it, I actually did. I even surprised myself with how much thought I gave this topic and how well I coped with it. The only moment when I felt a bit sad was when my two teachers handed me my certificate of graduation of fourth grade. Summer wind blowing through my hair, breaking up the thick veil of hot air for a few seconds, I reached my arms forward to grab the piece of paper that Mrs. Bold was handing me and then reached them out again waiting for Mr. Blidaru to put the huge stack of books to read during the summer on my arms. After we got our certificates and the books, my whole group gathered up in front of the gate at the entrance and started talking. Everyone was hugging me and some people were even crying. Many of my friends made me scrapbooks and glued pictures of all of us in there. Those last minutes I spent with my friends were the moments that I used to value the most until a couple of years ago. The moving to Bucharest was a lot of fun, but making friends was difficult.
17: The first month after I moved to Bucharest I lived in my aunt's house with my mom. That was because our own house was still in development. I was really excited about my first day of school, because in Romanian learning systems fifth grade is already middle school and not elementary any more. I got to school, but the excitement wasn't as big as it was in first grade. The crowd wasn't as big. When I entered the classroom, my classmates were already there and there was only one teacher in the classroom trying to make all the kids listen to her. She was our adviser for the year and also our Romanian teacher. | Chapter 3: Grades five and six
18: The kids weren't as I expected. I thought they would be nice to me and that they would be more than happy to become friends with me, but they weren't like that. I realized that we were very different in our characters and most importantly in the way we dressed. When I saw what the other girls were wearing, I was stunned. They were dressed like adults, with clothes with a lot of cleavage and wearing makeup. I was wearing a nice pretty green shirt with a green tank top underneath, green pants, and green shoes. My hair was up in a ponytail. I thought that I was going to be the best dressed, and I hoped that everyone would admire me, but instead they just laughed at me. In time, I started changing and wearing what they would wear. Not as vulgar and provocative, but I didn't look like my old self anymore. Also, I started making friends and my first friend was Ana Geoana, the daughter of a very important political figure in Romania. She was the only one who came to me in the first day and said that it's really hard for incoming people to fit in, because that's just the way the other classmates were.
19: In time, I got to know the teachers better and saw that getting the highest mark was pretty easy. I was very happy with my grades, and I remember that each of us used to have a little notebook where teachers would write our grades in as soon as we got them. All my pages were full of tens, which is the best mark you can get in a Romanian school. Everything was going just fine until one day when in biology class (yes, we did biology in fifth grade!), the teacher decided to give us a pop quiz. I was usually always prepared, but this time the quiz was about one of those topics that I just couldn't understand. I got a really bad grade, a four and that destroyed my whole average. In my old school they used to give you grades and then make averages and at the end of each semester, they wrote it down in the little notebook for grades. I was really sad and very disappointed in myself, for I had never gotten a bad grade before. Things went well, very well actually, from then on and at the end of the year I was one of the people with the highest averages in the whole class.
20: In Romanian schools, at the end of the year, people with best averages would get awarded, and the one who had the biggest average would get a pretty crown made of flowers. It was like some sort of competition to encourage you to get good grades, and to try your best throughout the year. I was very eager about getting first place, but unfortunately, my biology grade brought me down, and I only got third. Well, my average was 9.87, which is really good, but there were 2 people with averages higher than mine. Fifth grade passed by faster than I expected, and I liked it very much, even though there were no teachers that were special, or that made me feel good. It was just going to school to learn, and nothing more. It wasn’t learning and having fun at the same time, like it was in the first four grades. Sixth grade was another funny experience. There were new people that moved to our class, and one person that moved away; the jerk of the class. I have to admit that I actually missed him, because I had to sit next to him the whole of fifth grade. Sixth grade was my favorite grade- learning wise.
21: That was when I discovered my true passion for writing, drawing and composing. Until sixth grade, I used to be what they call a “human calculator”, and I did math all the time. But one day, while physics class, I started writing on a piece of paper, because I was really bored. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, until I wrote about 20 pages. I was surprised, because I didn’t like writing stuff down. I closed the notebook, thinking that I would read the story when I got home. And so I did. I was surprised at the quality of the piece that I wrote. I had never tried it before, and I never thought that I would like writing stories. I kept on writing stories, and as their number increased, so did their quality. I finally decided to show one to my Romanian teacher, and she was amazed. She loved it, and she encouraged me to pursue it, and to continue doing it, because as she said, I was “a real talent”. I don’t know why, but I haven’t kept any of those stories, and I gave up writing after some time, because I didn’t have as much free time as I used to have. I learned many new things in sixth grade, and one of them was how to skip a class without getting caught.
22: In Romanian schools, if you skip a class, the teachers don’t make a big deal out of it. They just leave you alone, saying that it’s your choice whether you want to learn or not. It was really fun, and if I look back upon it, we didn’t lose anything, because we would learn everything at home. About two or three months before the school year ended, I heard from Ana, my best friend at the time, that she was considering moving to the American School of Bucharest. At the time, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was, but after a few days, reality struck me and I understood that I couldn’t stay at the Romanian school without Ana, and that once again, moving would offer me more opportunities, such as the IB learning program. Months went by really quickly, and the end of the year came faster than we thought. I was happier than ever, because this year, my grades were all straight tens, and I got the first prize, and the flower crown. I was very excited about it, and so were my parents. That was one of the moments that I will never forget, because of how proud I was. The feeling that I had when my advisor handed me the certificate and the crown was ecstatic. It felt as if I was on cloud nine.
23: It was amazing to stand there, in front of all those parents and kids, and to know that I was the best one in my whole grade. I was very happy not only because of my grades, but also because I was moving to a new school, where I was going to make new friends, and a whole new life. | Me and some of my friends from the Romanian school
24: Chapter 4: Seventh grade The first time when I walked on the hallways of the AISB, I felt like I belonged there. There was this atmosphere that made me feel like I’ve been there my whole life. The first memory that I have from seventh grade is the memory of going into the counselor's office to ask if I can switch courses. I didn't like the choir class at all, and that was very unusual, because singing was, at the time, one of my favorite hobbies. And so, I switched from choir to art class. Art class was one of the highlights of my first semester at AISB, because that was when I discovered my true passion. The people in that class slowly became my best friends, and art class soon became my favorite time of the week. Another thing that I really liked was the fact that in P.E. class, we wouldn't only play soccer or basketball all year long. Throughout the time that I spent at AISB I learned how to play many sports that before, I only heard of in American movies or stories.
25: I was surprised at how international everything that I did was. My friends, the sports I played, what I studied; everything was international. And that was amazing because growing up in a fully Romanian environment, I didn't really get the chance to interact with other cultures. This whole “getting used to the new school” didn't last very long and before I knew it, I was part of cliques and friendship circles. It was very easy to adapt to the new lifestyle, not only because of the fact that I liked it but also because of how friendly and nice everyone was to me. The first important experience that I had at the new school was the tennis tournament. Me and the other 7 girls on the team traveled to Riga, Latvia. We played many games, and had a lot of fun. The tournament was the time when I actually made long-lasting friends that I still have. After playing our last game on the third day, we found out what the rankings were.
26: We were waiting patiently as the other teams were called up to receive medals or trophies. I remember that me and the other girls were sure that we had gotten one of the last places, thinking that we played really badly. As we were waiting, the team that came in fifth place was called up and it wasn't us. As they were announcing the fourth place, everyone in our team was getting ready to get up and accept the prize. But again, it wasn't us. This kept on happening, and we started getting more and more anxious. When they finally called up the team that fell into second place- and again it wasn't us- we finally jumped up yelling at the top of our lungs, letting everyone hear our happiness. We went into the front and received our trophy. I was chosen as the one to keep it at home until Sunday night when we arrived in Bucharest, until Monday morning when we had to hand it in. After the first semester was over there were many academic-wise changes in my life. The main one was being put in an advanced English class. I remember that in the beginning of the year I was put in the language B English class, and that I always complained to my parents that it was too easy for me.
27: Reaching that higher level in English was one of the greatest achievements in seventh grade. The second major change was being put-not officially- into a higher level French class. Just like in English, in the beginning of the year I was put in a lower lever class but I knew that it was too easy for me. So I worked hard and my teacher arranged with the higher level teacher for me to join their class until the end of the year. I was very lucky that the two classes were occurring at the same time, because otherwise I wouldn't have gotten the chance to join the other class.
28: The last memory that I have of seventh grade is the last day of school. It was probably one of the saddest days of my life until then, because of the huge amount of people that left. Teachers that I liked the most moved to other countries and some of my best friends moved as well. The boy that I had a major crush on left that day and it was very sad thinking that it would be the last time when I was going to see him. The last day of seventh grade wasn't all about sad moments; it had a lot of happy moments as well. Getting people to sign my yearbook and me signing other people's yearbook was really funny. I still laugh out loud at some of the comments at the back of my yearbook when I look at it. These are pretty much all the memories that I have of seventh grade. I don't know why, but there isn't much I remember about it even though it was one of the best years of my life. I guess it's not all the little things put together that made seventh grade the best year of my life, but the main picture.
29: The present
30: Chapter 5: Eighth grade Eighth grade. Two short, but big words. Big not because of the font of the style of the writing, but because of the meaning behind them. Eighth grade is the last step that you can take easily without the big jump to high school. It is the last year when you can still do little bad things without them going on your file for college. I expected eighth grade to be a lot harder, but as I went on with my life I found out that it is actually pretty easy. Of course, the pressure of making friends and fitting in wasn't pushing on my shoulders this year. I am proud to say that eighth grade is and will always be the beginning of my life. And I promise to myself that I won't change my opinion about it ever again, like I did with every other year in my life. It was truly the time when I discovered the real me. School played a major role in me discovering who I am.
31: In the beginning of eighth grade, I already knew who my friends were. And I already knew most of my teachers, except two: my Humanities teacher, and my Physical Education teacher. As the year went by these two teachers were going to be the ones I argued the most. Not because they were new, but only because I didn't like the two subjects that they were teaching. The first consistent memory that I have of eighth grade is the tennis tournament. In eighth grade it was hosted at our school, so we had two teams. I was part of the more advanced team and I played as First Doubles with my friend Maria Barragan. We made the best team ever, and I am very proud that our coach put us together. The ceremony at the end of the tournament was different this year, though. Not only because it was held in a different place, but also because we didn't win first place. What we did win, though was a lot of experience and new friends. Oh, and a lot of medals that are so much better than a trophy, because we can actually take them home.
32: After the tennis tournament I was very happy because I didn't have to stay at school until late in the afternoon. But this happiness only lasted for a month, because I signed up for a middle-school play and I got two parts in it. The play was called “Alice in Wonderland” and I was the Red Queen, and one of the two twin brothers. It was an amazing experience and I am very proud that I got to be part of the cast for that play, because it came out very good. Our producer, Ms. Bartel taught us not only how to act properly, but also some life lessons. She taught us responsibility. I remember that during rehearsals if one of us didn't know the lines she would get really angry at us. It happened to me as well and it was very unpleasant. We performed twice and every night, the front rows were filled with little elementary kids. I remember that some parents told us that when I came on stage as the mean Red Queen, they would get scared. I felt proud of myself when I heard that, because that means that I am a good actress. I still miss the rehearsals and the friends I made during the production of “Alice”. It was one of the main highlights of grade 8.
33: Another very important experience was the trip to Nice, France, also known as the “French Trip”. That was truly the funniest trip that I had ever taken. The group was made up of seventh, eighth and ninth graders and the two chaperons were Mr. Emanuel and Mrs. Negoescu. During the first three days we had to take a short course of French. I was in the higher lever group, along with my best friends. Our teacher, Blandine was really fun and gave us some pretty interesting topics to talk about. Even though the course was short, I actually learned a lot from it and I developed my speaking in French. The most important part of our trip was shopping. We went shopping every single day for about 3 hours. Absolutely everyone bought more than they could fit in their luggage. I was impressed at how much I was able to buy with only 500 Euros, considering the fact that Nice is one of the most expensive places in the world.
34: We also did some other things, apart from shopping. We visited Cannes and Monaco. At Cannes, we got to see the place where the movie festival is held each year and we got to take some pictures on the red carpet. After seeing the town, we took a ferryboat to a little island close to Cannes. I don't remember the name of it, because I was too busy taking in the pretty view and running around and that gave me no time to listen to our guide. On that island, we visited a place where a mysterious man was imprisoned for more than 30 years. His name is “The Iron Mask”, as no one knew him. The “nickname” itself came from the fact that he had to wear an iron mask every time he would go out of his cell, because he wasn't allowed to talk to anyone. The day after we visited Cannes, we went to Monaco and we saw the royal castle. I remember that we had to walk up a hill to get to the castle, and once we got there we had a little break. During that break we were just walking around. At one point, Vlady took out some Pringles, and as we were eating them, he dropped a little piece on the ground.
35: A bird came flying and ate that piece and it didn't fly away. We kept giving it chips and we were all surprised and how friendly it was. It finally flew away for no reason. The French trip was a really fun experience and it was the time when I became better “friends” with my French teacher, Mr. Emanuel. Of course that there are many other things that happened, but they are all small short stories of us acting like 5 year olds and I think that they wouldn't fit not even on 60 pages. After we came back from France, most of us started being more relaxed. And by relaxed I mean not doing our homework and not coming to school as often as we should. I don't know why that happened, but I think that it was also the fact that it was the beginning of spring and that it was the only time we had left before we would have to start studying for the end of the year exams. At the beginning of the second semester we had a big surprise. Our English teacher Mrs. Sassu was replaced by another teacher, new to our school called Mr. Guertin (AKA Mr. John). I have to admit that he made the English class so much better for us and the English class was already the funniest class.
36: I don’t remember what happened after we came back from France, but only up until a few weeks ago. A couple of weeks ago, my friend told me that there was going to be a short trip to the PAVEL foundation for kids with cancer. I was really excited about going because I really wanted to help them in any way possible. We went there to paint some t-shirts with them. It was fun because we made them feel so much better, and they have something from us that can help them remember how much fun they had. It was a shocking experience seeing all those 9 year olds with tubes coming out of them, bald, and with scars all over their bodies. The trip to the hospital made me realize how important life is and how cruel we are when we do something without actually thinking about it; minor things that could have major impacts on our lives.
37: These are the memories of my school life from the first day of school until the present. The process of writing this book is part of my school life as well and it is the memory of all the memories I have made during 8 years of school. I will not write and ending to this book, because my school life isn't over yet and there are many more memories waiting to be made.