English Was My Second Language Growing Up & Now It's My Major in College

When I made the decision to major in English, I was already seeing desks covered in books, saved essays littering the desktop of my computer and pens strewn across tables. To many people, this is a frightening endeavor, but I embrace the challenge of writing with unparalleled passion. I have always found an inexplicable enchantment with words, which is why it comes as a surprise, to many, that my first language was not English. 

I grew up speaking Cantonese, and entered kindergarten not knowing English. My first day of school was chaotic, to say the least. In a hot, stuffy room filled with boisterous, shrieking kindergartners, what made the situation worse was not being able to understand what the children were screaming. My classmates were confused— why was I not talking, not responding to them? But, I was even more baffled. Who were these people and what were they saying? Thrust into this strange environment, and forced to navigate this situation on my own, I felt out of place and frightened.

Each day, I would see the same faces, and feel the same scary experiences. I began to understand some things, "Good morning," and "sit," but there were still so many words and questions being pelted at me that I could only deflect, leaving me confused and feeling paralyzed. Out of my depth and motivated to combat my confusion, I took to the library to try and learn English. Book after book, I would trace the words on the page and say them aloud, trying to identify their meaning and come up with a cohesive translation for myself. I started to read— choosing book after book, absorbing word after word, and from there, I did not know how to stop.

Years later, I am still unable to tear myself away from a good book. I become captivated by the emotion and the power that words are able to convey. I chose to major in English because there is something so incredibly powerful and enchanting about words. Among every book is a story—a story that can teach, that can educate, and most importantly, that can help you grow. 

To many people, words are just letters on a page, intangible objects that are used as a form of entertainment. But to me, words are an art form, and the way they get pieced together to become a literary masterpiece, is most certainly, a sight to behold. So many thoughts and ideas running around an author's head, put together in a sophisticated and beautiful manner. 

As a kindergartner, I made the first decision to seek out a book, and to try and read the words on the page. That one small decision has spiraled and caught me in a web; now, years later, it feels like I have no choice but to find more words. 

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