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The British School in The Netherlands

Reflections on the First Day of School from Junior School Diamanthorst Students

Junior 80 Nationalities

The first day of school can be an exciting time for new students. It's usually the day they meet all of their new classmates, learn lots of new things, and introduce themselves to their teachers.

This excitement isn't always shared by everyone, though. When you are not only new to the school, but sometimes new to the country or don't speak the language, the first day of school can be a little difficult and scary. But, with the help of our amazing teachers and staff, students grow more comfortable and find their own path.

These stories are very special and unique to our diverse student body - so, as we celebrate International Week here at the BSN, Key Stage 2 students have shared what their first day of school was like and how they feel about it now.

International Week is a week where we celebrate the diversity of the BSN and learn more about the journeys from others' walks of life. It's a time to reflect, learn, and commend the identity of every student and their background. 

Below you can read the stories that were shared by Mrs Levido-Doorn and Mrs Gillen, the EAL teachers at Junior School Diamanthorst. You can also take a look at the beautiful displays arranged by the international community at JSD for International Week on Flickr

Diana – Year 5
I was in F2 when I first came to JSD and I didn’t speak any English at all. From the first day, school was really interesting because I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying to me. I kept calling out “Get me out of here, get me out of here!  Open the door!  Open the door!”  The teachers kept closing the door to keep me in. I knew my dad was sitting outside. He would stay because he was worried something would happen to me and I could see him through the window. The first year was very hard but by the end of Year 1 I felt like I could speak English, be understood and understand what others were saying. I remember going to Dutch lessons and not understanding one single thing. My mum stayed in Russia for quite a while because my little sister had just been born so I was really missing her too. I remember being so tired every day, my brain had to work really hard.  

Yara – Year 5
I was in Year 3 when I came to JSD and I had just come from Saudi Arabia. I had been to school in Saudi and I could read and write in Arabic and then when I came here it was hard not being able to communicate well. I remember other children being friendly to me but I just couldn’t understand what was being said. There was a girl could Mariam who could speak Arabic and she explained so much to me. I was so pleased to have her as my friend.  When I first started at JSD I would go home and cry because I missed my family so much. In Saudi the teacher talks and we listen but at JSD all the children get to say what they think in class. I started liking Maths lessons at JSD because the teachers would explain each step and I could then do it. 

Yury – Year 5
I was in Year 1 when I came to JSD and Mrs Sandford was my teacher.  I knew how to say ‘hello’ and ‘what’s your name?’  Russian school is very strict and organised and they don’t really take care of each individual person.  They have all types of lessons in Russian schools but children can make and design things. The teachers have papers from the government telling them what they have to teach. It probably took about two years until I really understood everything that was going on. Everything is great at JSD. 

Elisa – Year 5
I was in F1 when I came to JSD and Mr Ainscow was my teacher.  It took a whole year until I really understood everything that was going on around me. I always had Elenor and Juliette as my friends and because we could all speak French I never felt lonely.  I love coming to JSD because the activities are always fun, we do have a lot of fun here.  Everything we do is always so interesting.  I love that we have dress up days and International Ambassadors and proper art lessons.  

Kimi – Year 6
I was in Year 2 when I came to JSD and I spoke a little bit of English. Fiaz spoke Malay so I could always speak to him.  School here is different from my Malaysian school.  There are lots of buildings at my old school.  The parents couldn’t come into the school and see what we’ve been learning. The parents have to wait at the gate.  School at JSD is fun, we get to learn new things while having fun at the same time. It took me a year before I understood everything that was going on in the school.  I think JSD is the best school in the world. 

Anas – Year 6
I was in Year 4 when I came to JSD. I came from Libya and I was a very angry boy. I think I was angry because there was a war going on in Libya and a lot of bad things happen during war. I feel bad about how I acted then but now I know how to behave. In school in Libya the teacher hits the children all the time. There aren’t art lessons, or cooking, or PE or dress up days.  I really like being able to present my work to the whole class.  I didn’t do that in Libya. 

Chloe – Year 6
I was in F1 when I started at JSD and I only spoke Dutch. No one else spoke Dutch to me and I felt really left out and I didn’t want my mum to leave me. Once I made a friend, Anne Sophia, and then I wanted to learn English so I could play with her. We are still friends now, she lives in Oman and we go on holidays together.  It took a while to really understand everything. By the time I was in Year 2 I felt like my Dutch and English were the same. I remember learning table manners like keeping my mouth closed while chewing and I went home and told my parents that. They laughed! 

Kirill – Year 6
I spoke Russian and only a small amount of English when I came to JSD in Year 1. I was so scared!  I loved JSD even after the very first day. After being here for two weeks another Russian speaking girl came and we were so happy to speak to each other. I couldn’t understand the lessons about learning how to write. I could see the teacher speaking but just didn’t know what she was saying.  For a long time I just copied what the children around me wrote. After I few weeks I could understand some instructions but it took until the end of Year 3 to really understand all the lessons.  

Violeta – Year 5
I arrived in Year 3 and Miss Allen was my teacher. I didn’t know anything in English but I had been to school in Argentina and I could read and write in Spanish. When people asked me questions I would just nod.  I remember Miss Allen telling me to change my book but I didn’t understand what she was saying so I kept putting the book on the floor.  My friend Maddie was new too and she and I could speak Spanish and she was so helpful to me. JSD is smaller than my old school but my old school just had girls and it was strange to be around boys in the classroom and playground. I love how international our school is. Everybody looks different and speaks different languages, so I didn’t feel so different because we are all so different. I understood a little bit by the end of Year 3 but it was really in Year 4 that I felt like I knew what was going on. 

Luisa – Year 3
I spoke Dutch and German when I came to JSD in F1.  It was very confusing because I couldn’t understand what people were saying.  It took about one year before I really understood what was going on.  I remember wondering where people were going when they would like up and go to the Media Centre or the Music room or to PE. I loved going to Dutch lessons because Juf wanted to talk to me and we could understand each other. We also learn languages from the other children which is great. 

Omyma – Year 3
I came to this school in Year 1 and I wasn’t very well behaved. The rules were different in my old school in Libya. People kept asking me ‘what’s wrong?’ but I just couldn’t understand what was going on. I remember really missing my grandmother and grandfather and my aunty. Mum and Dad thought that this school would be a good school.  People at JSD are calm and friendly and when something happens, they’ve always got time to talk about things. I’ve learned so much at JSD.

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