Thank God it's Friday

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Monday First day at school in Indiana and I feel like a four-year-old wondering if people will like me, and whether I can do the work. Dodgy school food never changes, so I survive on chocolate chip cookies. The thought of multi-choice papers instead of 4,000-word essays cheers me up. Teachers here obviously aren't masochistic insomniacs addicted to marking.

Tuesday AhhhhhhI I stay up until midnight revising and reading Beowulf. Why did I come to mid-America to read an old English storypoem? For the first time in my life I have to do vocab and grammar, and am mortified to find even Italian and German exchange students can spell better than I can. Still no essays, only PowerPoint presentations. I smile when I think of people at home doing mock exams.

Wednesday My 18th birthday. No drink, no music, no clubs and no naughty antics. I find you can eat in class, and that people here can be bribed with birthday cake. I can't remember any calculus and have a test tomorrowI hope it's multi-choice as I refuse to work on my birthday.

Thursday Gave in last night and did some work - only to find that the test is delayed. A discussion on how much things cost: everything here is cheaper and the teachers earn more than back home. Maybe this is why they are so positive.

Friday I'm now truly in the school spirit as I count down the minutes until the bell releases me for weekend lie-ins and other joys. Multi-choice materialises into a frustrating mass of multi-guessing where "b" is not always a good choice. But the workload is less than the last year of A-levels back home and I'm picking up on some of that positive vibe. Not quite sure how long it will last, but I seem to know more about a number of things than the Americans. Makes me feel quite clever until I realise I have done most of the work before. Maybe I won't tell them that.

Alison Goldsworthy was a pupil at Haberdashers' Monmouth school for girls who spent six months on an exchange at South Central high school, Indiana. Her trip was organised by Academic Associates

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