YES Students Share Their First Day of School Experiences

As schools across the country got back into the swing of things this week, our 2017-18 YES participants swung at a new target: school in America for the first time. After the first few days, students compared their schools here with their schools back home.


A few students took first day of school pictures. Others needed time to get adjusted to their new schedules. Here’s what eight of our YES students had to share*:


“My first day at school was great, and a big start. I really like all my classes and teachers. (I) haven’t made any friends yet because it’s so crowded, but I am sure that in up coming days I will get a whole bunch of new friends. Plus, (I) will try to sign up for clubs and more activities.” -Hooria, North High School

Abir’s First Day of School

“My first day was really exciting, but a little overwhelming as well. At first I didn’t know anybody, and the two friends I had made during the past two weeks weren’t in any of my classes. By the time I reached 6th period, I thought, ‘I’m not going to make any friends.’ Then I walked in my ‘Inside a Criminal’s Mind’ class, and things changed. The number of students is quite small compared to the rest of my classes, so I got to talk to all of them. They were all really nice. Now I have a whole bunch of new friends.


As for school , the building itself is smaller than my school back home, but there’s way more students. With that comes the overcrowded hallways. Other than that, I had a great time, especially with the classes I took.


As for activities, I’m doing choir and I signed up for the interact club this morning. I’ll be doing my first volunteering hours with them this Saturday.” -Abir, Pocahontas High School

“It was amazing! I really enjoyed it. I was the only one to ride the bus that day. I met new friends and people in school. It was a new experience to go to locker and rush into new classes. It took a long to explain to some teachers how to pronounce my name! But it was fun too.


It is different from my old school: much smaller, but not difficult. It was so fun! Also, there is a football game Friday, and I am playing cymbals in marching band. Go Lions!” -Vraj, Clear Lake Community Schools


“School was awesome! In choir we had to say where we were born, and I said South Africa. They all applauded, which was kind of random but kind of cool.


By lunch time I thought that I wouldn’t make any friends, but I eventually just stepped out of my comfort and sat with someone at lunch who was just so sweet. She really helped me, and I’m glad she’s at least in one of my classes. This just showed me that if I want to make friends, I will have step out of my comfort zone and just talk to people because most people are actually really nice.


The rest of the day was really good, and there were a few surprises along the way, such as not being allowed backpacks in class and some of the clothes that people wore. I feel that I will fit in well at school. I’m excited to get involved and next week is the Drama Kick Off and then auditions for a play so I’m hoping to meet more people there and make some more friends. So overall, I absolutely love school and am excited for the rest of the year. Also, I didn’t get lost once. Yay!” -Meghann, North High School

Yara’s First Day of School

“I entered through the door, and the only thing I could see was people. Different ages were in the same class. Teachers are really excited about me. The place I am from (and) the culture, and they kind of spread these excitement among all my new American peers.


The first day was somehow weird. Everything was new. I was lucky to have some of friends I made in church to sit with them at lunch, or then I will be that lonely weird girl in that huge, beautiful cafeteria.


The school building is much bigger than mine (back home). My school is like the letter ‘H.’ Plenty of hallways, and this added an obstacle: getting lost.


Anyone in the hallway, whether students or a teacher, was ready to help, and this made my day much better. Actually, nothing is similar to my school in my home country. I use a laptop to study now, students switch classes and teachers stay in one class, and the lunch was a real lunch – like a meal that everyone deserves. Nothing is similar, and this is what must happen when you are an exchange student.


I joined the girl’s basketball team. A new friend knew that I like dance, and now I am on the school dance team. I am going to join a play (being) done in one month or less. I will be joining extra clubs.” -Yara, Atlantic High School


“My first day school was very good, but (the) morning was confusing. The afternoon was wonderful. I met new friends. For teachers, it was difficult for them to say, ‘Kito,’ but I enjoyed it. It is a smaller school, but very good. I am enjoying it. It is very different than my old school, but it is really funny.” Kito, Nashua-Plainfield High School


“My school started August 23rd. I go to school by bus, and in the first day of school, I took the wrong bus. But it was fine. I like the school. Everyone was nice at my first day of school. The teacher was nice as well. They helped me to find my classes. And it is really hard to memorize all my friends’ name.


I haven’t joined any activity yet, and my advisor told me that all clubs will be active next week. The school is smaller than my school at my country. And I like the school system here, how we are allowed to choose our favorite subjects. Because back in my country, we have to learn 13 subjects or more every week, and we can’t choose it. My favorite class here is choir class.” Sila, Southeast Valley High School

Insii’s First Day of School

“My first day is awesome. I met new, amazing people. It’s kind of different, but I’m looking forward to have fun with these very kind people next week for our homecoming.


I joined several clubs, and am very much excited to promote projects and community services with them. My school here is bigger than my school back home. Somehow my day is a little bit epic because I woke up 6:36am, wherein my bus stop is 6:48, and I really need to rush out things. Then, at the end of the day, I missed my bus. I was panicking at that moment and tried to ask for help with the teachers. Our bus coordinator told me that he’d call my mom, and I was so afraid and shy. Then I told him I’ll do it. I called her, and she picked me up. Thanks to my mom, it was epic. All in all, I really had a good start in the school.” -Insii, Waterloo East High School


As part of the YES program, participants also give various presentations about their home country and culture to different groups. Check back as the year continues for updates on these presentations, and to see what else these awesome students are up to!


*Please note some of the students’ comments have been edited to better communicate their experiences.