From moving to a different country to learning a new language to being through some verbal bullying at school, to who I am today. This is my autobiography and story from when I first moved to the United Kingdom.
Most of my childhood was spent in Algeria, I moved to London when I was 13 years old. Moving away meant that I had to start over in a new country with a different culture, religion, and most importantly a different language. When landing, the first thing I noticed was the different ethnic groups at the airport. However in Algeria, we don’t have many people from different ethnic groups living there, tourists are the only people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Growing up in Algeria, I attended primary and two years of secondary school. My experience in school was different from when I moved to the United Kingdom. One of the differences I noticed when starting school in London was the school uniform. When attending school in Algeria, we did not wear school uniforms but our clothes with a pink blazer for girls and blue for boys. Having a school uniform meant that everyone was treated and seen as equal, whereas in Algeria boys and girls were separated and treated differently. Another difference is discipline. Usually, when someone is in the wrong, they are more likely to get a detention. However, in Algeria teachers were more likely to slap the students on the hand. We also did not have school on Friday Friday was prayer day in Islam, which meant schools were closed for people to go to the mosque and pray. The UK also had different traditions and holidays compared to Algeria. As Algeria is a Muslim country, we don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, which means that we don’t have holidays during that period.
As I lived in Algeria for 13 years, I only spoke Arabic and French when I moved here. The language barrier made socializing and interacting with people in school a little difficult, which also made making friends harder. However, after meeting some friends that spoke the same language as me, which made lessons and talking to people easier for me as they were there to help me understand what people were saying. I also got help from the school, I had extra lessons where I did my homework and worked on my English. After that learning English wasn’t as bad, it took me about six to eight months to learn and speak fluent English. Furthermore, not knowing English also came with some consequences, which included verbal bullying. The language barrier gave people the opportunity to say some hurtful words about me as I was the new kid that moved from North Africa and didn’t speak English. This made it harder for me to interact with people that did not speak my language, it also made me insecure about speaking the language because they would make fun me of because of my accent or if I got the word wrong. In addition, I learned how to manage my impressions and hide my feelings around them, I would just pretend that I didn’t hear them or that I didn’t understand what they were saying. Goffman (1959) refers to this as impression management which is how we create specific impressions of ourselves to others. Nevertheless, my teachers were proud of me for learning and understanding the language in a short period. I was also able to make more friends, develop my confidence, and find out who I was and what I liked. Mead (1934) argues that the self emerges through social interactions and experiences.
My parents decided to move to the United Kingdom due to the opportunities I and my brothers would have both in the education system and the workplace. Moving to London meant that I will be able to learn a language that could be used around the world as English is an international language. Mead (1934) sees language as a symbolic social interaction that could be used to understand the attitudes of others towards us.
In conclusion, to end my autobiography and story, I would like to say that even after being bullied for not speaking the language, my teachers still praised me for what I have achieved in six years. I passed my GCSE, levels and I got into university, this is my way to say that going through a tough period will only make you stronger for your next obstacle in life, so keep going and keep fighting because you will achieve a lot just by believing in yourself.