Friday 15 February 2002, Language School Year, Warminster, England

My roommate Adam and I were pulled out of the breakfast and called into the headmaster’s office. Something must have gone seriously wrong, but the day just started and what could we have done?

Adam was a new comer to the school, joining at the beginning of the second term. He was from African originally and to him, England was even more different from home than what I found in my first few weeks. At least, I didn’t go to kiss the ground when it snowed last week. I would only do that when the constant rain would stop and let the Sun out.

By this time, I was well settled into the school: I had learnt the expected ways to dress, eat, talk and not talk as well as all the routines I needed to follow. Even though I was falling further behind in the race against English every day, my grades had become fairly good. So when Adam arrived, he was assigned as my roommate so that I could help him to go through the same process. The headmaster, who took him to our room, even joked to Adam that he should just copy me if he was not sure what to do.

But when we stepped into the headmaster’ room today, he was visibly angry. He said when the fire alarm went off the previous night, both of us didn’t show up at the safety point outside the boarding house. The staffs had to spend half of hour searching for us during the early hours while everyone else stood in the cold outside. And when they finally found us, we were sleeping in our room. “So why didn’t you two come to the evacuation point last night?”

I was so puzzled hearing the whole thing, “I am sorry, Sir. I didn’t hear the fire alarm at all. I went to bed and only woke up this morning.”

This made the headmaster even more furious. He switched to Adam and asked, “What is your excuse? Don’t tell me you didn’t hear the alarm as well!”

“No, no, no, I did, the loud noise woke me up. But I didn’t know what it was or what I needed to do. You told me to just do what Puzhong does. I saw he was sleeping, so I went back to sleep as well!”

“Both of you get out of here NOW!”