Congratulations to Ulysse who won the contest and gets his story published.
My name is Ulysse, I am 10 years old.
I was born in France. I lived there more than 3 years and a half until I took a plane to America with my parents and little brother. We moved to the US just in time to celebrate my 4th birthday.
I remember that on my first day in America, literally, I had the chance to discover the US version of the ER as I had an accident on the playground. Welcome to America :-)! According to my mom, there’s no real differences between these ER and the ones in France.
Language was the most difficult thing to adjust to and was a real barrier.
We moved in September, so it was the beginning of the school year. I went to my first school, called Rochambeau, the French school in Bethesda. It was great as everyone was speaking French, easy for me, but at the end of the year I did not learn to speak English.
All I knew was how to say “hello”, “sorry”, “hi” and a few more words. And since there are a lot of kids in my neighborhood and I couldn’t figure out their first names, I was calling everyone “guys”.
Then I went to US schools. This is where I really learned English. But it was really difficult at the beginning of the school year to understand anything. So difficult, that I cut my uniform with a pair of scissors. Isn’t that a great way to tell something to your parents 😉 Don’t do that kids! Better talk to your dad and mom, just saying.
The other difficulty is the rules, like good manners and limits. These are so different between here and France. When we go to a playground in France it is very obvious! “You hurt my feelings” or ” tadle tell” or parents let kids more free in France, just keeping an eye from far because they are busy laughing with other grown ups, and my parents always say ” you can figure this out, do it by yourself” which usually surprise parents in the US.
At the local school, I was spending my time with the kids of my neighborhood, and some of them became my best friends. These friendships were, and are, the key to a good time and facilitate my adaptation to this new country. The thing which is really hard is when a very good friend moves to another city or country. I miss them. They miss me. Sometimes, we meet during holidays. This is the hard part for friendship.
In my school I have friends from the US, of course, but also from Africa, Europe or Asia. Many of us are migrants. I really enjoy it. We are all coming from around the world, all different, but we are all finding common grounds and play together. We are building our own culture, it is a mix of all of us. Some love American Football, others prefer soccer. I play Rugby. We all root for the Wizards, the Capitals, the Nationals or the Red Skins. Others prefer the Real Madrid or Arsenal. I also like the PSG and l’OM ( French soccer teams from Paris and Marseille).
Language is not a barrier any more. After 6 years in Washington, I still have to convince my friends that the food is better on the other side of the Atlantic. And if I strongly feel French, I embrace the American culture.