Although it was a completely new environment, with the help from teachers and students, Vivian felt like she fit into the environment here very quickly. One of the first things that she noticed was that the school environment was very pretty. No matter where you went, you would see a lot of green. The fact that almost every classroom has a wall of glass, making the room look bigger, brighter and more open, appealed to her. Everything around her felt fresh and she had more opportunity to try different things. The school’s unusual scheduling of classes made her feel like time was more constricted, though, and she had to learn how to manage her days carefully. Also, the people expressed themselves differently. ”Everyone in the school has their own unique character,” she says. Their comfort in showing who they were was a stark contrast to how the typical Chinese students behaved. When she was in class, she was surprised that everyone here would speak out with their own opinions, which is very rare in China, where everyone in class was somewhat afraid to express themselves.
She really liked the tutorial sessions because when she came here in 2012 as a 9th grader, she didn’t really understand her classes. When she went to the tutorial sessions, the teachers always patiently answered her questions. Unlike in China, students would be afraid of asking the teachers questions because they would yell at them sometimes. She was also surprised that our school has so many extracurricular activities. When the school day ended, she saw a lot of students going off to different sports and clubs. When she was a 9th grader, she wasn’t doing any of them, but , now, as a senior, she runs with the cross country team. “I started doing exercise every day and I would feel weird if I don’t run one day,” she says.