Friday, February 8, 2013

What happens next?

How did you get through it? Did you? - was my readers' response when I shared my high school experiences in a blog post a week.  I want to make one point clear- my classmates were not mean or cruel, I wasn't bullied or made fun of. These years were just painfully uneventful. There's not a single event that I look back on with fondness, or any one person that I particularly missed. And the odd thing is, that between all the tests and extra work, stressing out about teachers and grades you don't really even notice that what tv and books advertised as the best years of my life, was not really that great until I half way done. The best thing about high school is that it's over before you know it And truthfully, I couldn't wait to move on. I anticipated college to be this new, big thing in my life. Adulthood, the at was both scary and exciting. Months of studying for the Matura high school final exams and law school entry exams were all leading up to this. 10 people per spot.10 people I had to beat.  Hard work in exchange for a promise of a better life. And a new me. I was on track to become a lawyer. And getting an additional month of Summer break every year didn't feel like a bad bonus for joining the university ranks either. My history teacher had so little faith in me that she tried to discourage me from the path I chose. But I did it. And here I was- vindication and validation. It's odd how all I needed is to get to new surroundings and new people to feel like a new person myself. Law school in Poland was like a new beginning, a new opening if you will.  The highschool micro-cosmos felt like it was all there was while I was in it and then it was behind me. All I needed was a change of perspective. I needed to get out. Before I started college, my parents sent me with a visit to my cousin in Las Vegas, my first time in America, as a reward. I came back tanned, rested, funny and eager to start. That first year I've met a lot of kind, exciting, highly intellectual people from all over Poland. We shared common interests. It was not like school where you only interacted with kids from your neighborhood mashed together only based on where they lived. It's true what they say. It gets better. And there are people who will like you for who you and respond to the person within you. That first year the world really seemed to be my oyster and sky was the limit. For two semesters we were assigned to fixed  groups and I really grew to like those people. The parantransit van gave me freedom from my parents. Going to school by my myself felt like a huge accomplishment, a change that I craved. It didn't even matter that the city wasn't very wheelchair accessible. It felt I had five years to worry about that. If I was changing, I felt the whole world could change with me. A few years later, when I graduated the brutal reality came crashing in- I was one of the top students in my class, yet courts and firms were beyond my reach. But not then. Right after high school I felt I was growing into my personality. Driven, energetic, happy. After my freshman year I was approached about a scholarship in the Erasmus program. I was too scared to move abroad, I was only 19. I declined and it was never offered  it again. With the new people I also didn't want to let go of the good thing I felt I had going. I was around people like me. I felt appreciated.

 During my second year I've lost touch with many of my friends. We've all switched groups to create the ideal schedule. I've signed up for many electives and have taken up  two foreign legal centre courses. I wanted to go to Cambridge. Many of my friends moonlighted as legal secretaries at law firms, often barely awake in class. Not the college experience you see on TV. During my second year I  also started writing about the media market in Poland and discovered I was pretty good at it. Soon I had my own website. Somehow, that didn't seem like enough. But that's an entirely different story.  I was out of high school and no matter where I went I was my own person.

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