Our Own Words: A Students's Guide to First-Year Writing
I was born in Bulgaria, the Land of Roses, a “Wonderland” amongst others in Eastern Europe. After living there for eight years under the influence of communism, my family and I were eager to depart and head for America - “ The Land of Opportunity.” The adjustments I had to make to my unknown surroundings in the United States were not easy or pleasant. My number one priority was to continue my education and, without hesitation, I was quickly enrolled in an English speaking elementary school. Aside from
enduring scrutiny from my classmates, my toughest engagement was conquering the English language. I did not know the simplest words and, in fact, began by learning the totally unfamiliar English alphabet.
I believe that my contempt for writing was influenced twelve years ago by my arrival in a foreign country with a bizarre and confusing language. After all, how can a language that consists of twenty-six letters incorporate millions upon millions of words? Because English was not native to me, I had to struggle to overcome the language barrier throughout my elementary school years. Most of my time was spent mastering the
language itself and, in doing so, I missed out on the basic writing techniques that most
American students were learning. While I was learning my ABC’s, they were introduced
to the idea of expanding their vocabulary, increasing their use of proper punctuation and adapting to the “correct” way of spelling simple words. On the other hand, I was still trying to remember the meanings of elementary vocabulary words like library, wheelchair, and of course how could I forget, the difference between “red“ and “read“.
Even the most simplistic terminology gave me trouble because Bulgarian, my native language, was completely different. The Cyrillic alphabet I grew up with rarely posed
such ambiguities. Outside of school, I also struggled with my parents’ lack of
knowledge of the English language. At home, they could not help me when I did not
understand a homework assignment. Instead, they could only come to my rescue with
comforting words of inspiration. Perhaps, the toughest obstacle I had to overcome was
adapting to the transition from speaking Bulgarian at home to speaking English at school, necessary for communication. I often sat in agony when I wanted to express myself.
Creating simple sentences was an exhausting process that almost always left me feeling uneasy about myself and because it was a delayed process on my part, I often received criticism and was perceived as “dumb.”
At about the time I entered middle school was the point at which I became acquainted with English. Luckily, I fell into the hands of a great Language Arts teacher whose class taught me the proper grammar and mechanics that improved my writing
almost overnight. Unfortunately, afterwards, I was not fortunate enough to discover