When I first got here in the United States, I thought I would feel less stressed because of the people who had stereotypes on the educational system here. My relatives told me, "Kayang-kaya mo yan! Ikaw pa! Mas matalino mga Pinoy kesa mga Puti!" That's how they said it.
I came to the US mid-spring, so I couldn't enroll yet to the current school year. My other Filipino friends here would tell me the same thing my relatives told me as some sort of encouragement. Then came the start of my high school life that brought me surprises and stressed the life out of me.
I came from a private Catholic school back home and they did a pretty great job teaching me the basic things I needed to know. Or so I thought. But I guess I was wrong. The first week felt like hell to me because I wasn't used to moving from classroom to classroom for every subject. Everything was moving so fast and we only had 25 minutes for lunch. The classes were pretty hard for me because mainly, because the teachers taught the lessons really fast. They would give us tests, graded discussions, project, and essays in just one week.
My parents always asked me to give me assurance that I'm doing great in my school, but I was actually struggling to keep my grades up. As what my parents told me, "Madali lang yan anak! Napag-aralan mo na 'yan sa Pinas, diba? Sisiw lang yan kasi Asian ka, matalino ka!"
Those words stuck to me. It was embedded in my mind that I have to be smart because I am Asian. Since then, I've always tried my best to keep my grades up in my first year here, which left me with no friends. It was just school and house for me for the whole year. It made me depressed because I contemplated about this subject that felt like shaming to me because if I'm Asian, I'm supposed to be smart. When in reality, I'm having it hard, too, just like everyone else.