A whole semester in a week

I just moved country and I’m struggling with the curriculum. Even worse: exams are coming up. 

Wow, that’s a lot of change, says our elder. Take up your teachers’ offers to help.


Dear EWC

Seeking wisdom from a complete stranger here. Here’s my dilemma: So, I’m a 16-year-old junior in high-school. My family decided to move to a new country in the middle of the year due to economic problems in ours. I didn’t think it would be much of a change when it came to adjusting academically but I was wrong. I am finding great difficulty in understanding concepts related to the country’s curriculum. And the worst thing is, exams are just around the corner. I don’t know how I’m going to fit a whole semester of teaching into a week of cramming. Plus, most of the stuff being taught is supposed to be easy and the student is supposed to already have a background in it. But I don’t. It’s a whole different syllabus for god’s sake. My teachers offered to help but I don’t know what to ask of them as I just need to learn everything. In addition to the fact that I am a new student from a foreign place, the teachers all believe I have great potential and that I’m a genius that’s totally not going to fail, literally adding more pressure on me to not disappoint. I am just desperate for some advice.


Cairnie replies

Thank you for writing. I can appreciate how stressful moving to a new country can be, leaving behind the familiar, and starting at a new school, with a different curriculum, in a new country. Wow, that’s a lot of change!

My advice would be to take up the offers of your teachers. Tell them the difficulty you are having making this adjustment and catching up. Let them know their expectations of you are putting extra pressure on you, and you want to do well with their support, not their assumptions. Expecting you to manage a whole semester of learning into one week of studying is unfair and unreasonable.

Tell them you feel overwhelmed, that you feel like you need to learn everything and are starting way behind the other students, and that you’re not even sure where to start and are worried about the pending exams. Your teachers want you to succeed, and will be supportive knowing that you do, too, and are asking for help.

Ask them to break down the important concepts. Ask them for direction on what to focus on first. Let them know what’s confusing you, what you haven’t yet learned, if the language is a challenge, what’s different about the academic culture and how your other country did things differently.

Basically my advice is to let them help you. Another thought: is it also possible to get a tutor or academic mentor? Someone you can ask all of your questions to and can guide you through your classwork? Often, studying and doing homework with someone else (especially someone who knows more) can be very supportive.

You are experiencing a lot of change at once, and that can be overwhelming. I support your focusing on your schoolwork, and figuring out how to understand it all and catch up. And catch up you will. It will likely take months, not one week. Please ask the school for help, for a tutor, for time after school to review the work, and to support your catching up.

Good luck. I’m confident that you can do it, in time, and with support. Let me know how it goes.

Article #: 484735

Category: School

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