THE BLOG
11/03/2011 09:10 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2012

Orientations, Houses, and First Days of School, Eh?

Being an American in a Canadian school is certainly different. The first time I walked into my new school in Canada as an actual student, I was in eighth grade (or grade eight, as Canadians like to call it). It was orientation day for all new students, which I thought was interesting because I thought that was only done in high school in the United States. Nevertheless, the day went by; I met all of the teachers, they talked about what went on in a normal day. Then they sorted me into a House (yes, Harry Potter fans, I did think of the four houses at Hogwarts.) The only difference is that there are eight houses at our school, four in each gender. Being in Yre House my first year at a new school was a huge advantage. The house system in schools provides many opportunities to meet people as the year goes by. We had many house activities, no Quidditch but soccer, running races, geography challenges, spelling bees and so much more. It was a great way to get a break from work and just play basketball or baseball. Some of my best friends are in my house, and I don't think I would have become friends with them if not for the house system.

Anyway, back to the orientation. I was sorted into Yre House, named after a Scottish river (what Canada has to do with Scotland, I have no idea, but knowing Canadians there is a very detailed explanation) and our House Captains gave us a tour of the school. There are 16 House Captains each year, two for each house, that are like prefects but in middle school. This year, my sister Sarah is house captain for our house. Given she was only in this country for nine months, it speaks volumes about her personality and ability to adapt to new situations. I didn't really get to meet any of the house captains, except for the ones in Yre during orientation. Thankfully, there were two other new girls that I met that morning, one of which asked me politely about my parents' jobs rather than about Justin Bieber or the TV show Glee. After the tour, we had a "barbeque" in the indoor cafeteria. It was, overall, an eventful morning.

The next morning, I made sure my uniform was right before I left for school. In Canada, the uniforms are very similar to American uniforms: the kilt, the golf shirt, the knee socks, and the sweater. What is different is that on all Fridays when we attend chapel, or on other special occasions we have a special addition to our uniform. "Number One Dress" is the uniform on these days and includes a dress shirt, a blazer, and a tie, too. The first Friday of my new school was certainly a hectic morning, with comments including "Mom, this blazer makes me look like a man!" and "Dad, how on earth do I tie this tie?" Lessons for all girls with ties: leave your tie complete and just loosen the neck part for the next time you have to wear it. If this fails, you have to Google-search "How to tie a tie," therefore wasting 10 minutes of your morning.

So the first day of school, I was asked multiple times a) if I was American and how I said the word "socks," and b) if I thought Canadians live in igloos or said "eh" a lot. People will say Canadians don't have an accent, but I completely disagree. They do say "eh" a lot, and they say words like hockey and coffee differently. I am not saying it is a bad thing, I am just stating my opinion. My English teacher was Polish and even he talked like a Canadian. He was also my home form teacher (which is exactly like a homeroom class, but Canadian style). The first day of school he told us to think of one word that defined us with a reason why. As everyone thought of smart words like 'indecisive' and 'intelligent,' all I could think of was artsy. Obviously, I needed a little catching up to do with my vocabulary.

My first week of school was something to get used to, but it has been a pretty cool experience to go to a Canadian school and see the comparisons between the countries. If anyone is wondering, I still haven't picked up Canadian talk, but I have grown to like Tim Hortons. I have been here one year and I have tons to say about the differences between American and Canadian schools.