It’s been 14 years since I took my first steps into Montessori preschool in Wellington, New Zealand, as eager as a three year old can be, to embark on the beginning of my academic journey. The two years I spent there were filled with chats about the new hi-five episode with my then-best-friend Samantha through the toilet walls (I’m not ashamed to admit I still do this), collages made out of roses chocolate wrappers, ballet lessons which consisted of very little ballet, and lusting over the only male teacher (we knew I was very very straight and had a thing for men who dress nicely from a young age).
I’m not exactly sure what I learnt during those early years of my education, but I’m sure it started with using scissors and ended with discovering my sexuality, which, for a four year old is both weird and quite impressive.
But alas, my time there came to an end before it was supposed to and I found myself in a new country with people who laughed at me due to the way I said ‘fish and chips.’
Fast forward a few months into my extended stay in Australia, I found myself at the only school willing to take the kid who talked weirdly. The only things I remember about my (extra) year of preschool are the boy called Ben who I thought I would marry – we were best friends, I promise I wasn’t lusting after celebrities at 5; the girl with the bright red curly hair who always wore green shorts (I hope you’re doing better at the whole “grade 12 thing” than I am); and of course, my super cool blue and black sandals that laced up at the back, behind the ankle. I think it was also very obvious from a young age, that I wouldn’t’t become a fashionista.
Thankfully in 2003 I found another school willing to teach my brother and I. Unfortunately for us, we still always asked to answer every maths question that incorporated the number six, purely for our teachers and classmate’s amusement. That year, my parents were told I had a learning disability. Turns out I just had a New Zealand accent, who would’ve known hey. It’s crazy, kids coming from different countries pronouncing words differently, how absurd. Primary school was definitely a lol and a half. I pretty much nominated myself for an academic award by telling my year two teacher I wanted one; my best friend received a sexual abuse form for telling a girl in our grade to “prove it,” when she said she had the biggest boobs in year five; and I insisted for the entirety of year six and seven that every Taylor Swift song – especially Love Story- was written about me and my crush. Apparently that crush is gay now, so I think I’ll accept defeat and admit that I was wrong, just this once.
Throughout the seven years of primary school I learnt to always wear deodorant after age eleven; if blood is in your underwear, you aren’t dying (it wasn’t me I promise); don’t ask a girl to show you her boobs, even if you’re joking, you will get in trouble; and if a boy has his ear pierced at age eleven, he’s not your soul mate.
2010 meant the arrival of high school, and the beginning of the unknown tradition that always lead me to be late on the first day. Whoever said high school was the best time of your life was lying, high or 50. When you spend a long time away from something you seem to only remember the good moments, and not the time they used One Direction as the school bell the day tickets sold out in 30 seconds leaving you with a broken heart. Being on the verge of graduation doesn’t really give me a leg to stand on when considering reliable sources as to what high school is really like. As unenjoyable as a lot of high school has been for me, I did learn a lot. I learnt how to not get eaten at a girls school, how to fight and how to pick apart every little single thing a person doesn’t like about themselves just to throw it back at them; I don’t think I’ll use this. I learnt stupid things I won’t use in the future: like derivatives and if the movie ‘The Boxer’ is a correct and fair portrayal of The Troubles in Ireland (it wasn’t). But I also learnt that friendship, while sometimes fickle, is sometimes, when in its truest form, the greatest thing a person can experience. I learnt what not to wear at a school dance, or later, parties; that boys are stupid and will break up with you ever text message and then send another one 30 seconds later proclaiming their love for you; that fainting during the group photo probably isn’t the best “exit” you can go for at your formal; how to fake tan and most importantly, how to walk in heels (I’m lying, still can’t do it).
In 12 days, I say goodbye to yet another chapter of my academic journey and while girls are running around school crying about “our last ever Monday” and “the last time I’ll walk down this hallway,” I’m excited, intrigued and a little bit apprehensive to see what things I learn at University. Considering I figured out my sexuality in preschool, it could be anything.
Hopefully it’s how to do a hand stand on a keg and scull beer or to get a celebrity to fall in love with you. I’ll keep you posted.