I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I had to have my mother help me with those first two term papers. Yeshiva lingo, my default colloquial language, worked well in yeshiva, but the mix of Hebrew Yiddish and English is unacceptable in the college word and I had yet to develop the skills necessary to express my ideas fully in English. I dictated the basic concept I was trying to express, and my mother put those thoughts into neatly typed words.
As an aside, the language barrier was the most difficult barrier for me to overcome in college. It took years until I had fully removed the yeshiva lingo as my default form of expression, making it more difficult to participate in class discussions.
In the end, the World History professor decided to be lenient with her students, likely because she was looking for a professorial appointment, and didn’t want negative evaluations haunting her (although I assure you, she received nothing but negative evaluations and never taught at NEIU again).
I did well on my final exams and papers and I received “B”s in both classes. I had done it. I survived that first semester at college, and there were no more questions about my future. I would finish my course of study and graduate, albeit having to put in a lot more effort than I had expected. I assumed I would complete my time in school as a relatively quiet and passive member of the college community. That, however, would also soon change.
Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a social media consultant and a freelance writer currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at email@example.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/