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My Song: "Till I Collapse" by Eminem was my lifeline in 10th grade

Joined: 7/10/2012
Posts: 1
Reading the first class on my 10th grade schedule gave me momentary relief: in Mathematics, the language barrier couldn’t possibly obstruct my learning. After all, the number system is universal, or at least, that’s what I thought. But in class, I was frantic to discover that everything was expressed in reverse. The fraction equivalent to “1/4” was pronounced “4 over 1.” I was in a world of contradictions, foreign and daunting.

I worried how I would get through my next class, Spanish, where a language I didn’t speak would be taught in Korean, another language I didn’t speak. The vocabulary worksheets for tests were given in Spanish with Korean translations as reference. I required a third column, an English reference, so I labored through a Korean-English dictionary first, and a Spanish-English dictionary next.

By lunchtime, I was exhausted, but I looked at my class schedule and smiled when I saw P.E.

I walked into the gym brimming with confidence, donning my basketball sneakers from back home: with sports, I would be on equal terms with my peers.

Then Mr. Sagong walked in. “GET INTO 5 LINES NOW!” he boomed in Korean. My peers wordlessly organized themselves. I followed their lead, unsure of what would come next.


I looked down and noticed for the first time that everyone else was barefoot. I stammered in broken Korean: “I…didn’t know…well, back in America…I used to…”

“THIS ISN’T AMERICA! Learn our rules or go home,” he bellowed. I heard a chorus of snickers.

After nightly roll call, I slugged into my dorm room, agonizing over the huge failure of my first day.

I turned on my iPod then buried my face in my pillow and fought back tears. I skipped several songs on shuffle, until, like a miracle, my lifeline came in the form of Eminem’s “Till I Collapse”:

“Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull it out of you and get that motivation to not give up.”

Those words portrayed exactly how I felt at the moment, and it made me realize how I couldn’t give up so easily. I didn’t travel 10,000 miles here to collapse after a bad day. I had to make my old friends and teachers proud of me. I didn’t want to take this experience for granted, and I knew I needed to step up and persevere through challenges in a new environment.

With a renewed sense of direction and optimism, I leaped off my bed, grabbed my Spanish workbook, and walked over to a classmate’s dorm. I knocked on his door and when he opened, I asked, “Can you can help me go over some translations?”
He smiled warmly as he let me in. “Sure.”

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Comment by bugcandy

Joined: 11/5/2008
Posts: 286
Congratulations - your essay above has been named a semi-finalist in the July and August writing contest (where we asked people to share a story about how music played an important role during a unique time in their life).

We had over 9,500 people from around the world visit the writing contest page during the summer and nearly 200 submitted qualifying essays.

43 essays were named finalists (one of which is yours).

To read a recap of the writing contest, see links to the qualifying essays, and find out who the runners-up and winner are (announced after September 15th, 2012) visit this page:

Our 26 Editors are now reviewing the finalists. We'll make an announcement on our Facebook page ( and via email when the winner is selected.

Thanks again for sharing your story on Stage of Life. Please share the news of being named a finalist with your friends, family and via Facebook / Twitter.

Great essay above, and best of luck!

Stay tuned!


P.S. If you haven't checked out the current writing contest, you can get to it from here:
Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2012 7:49:04 PM
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Comment by NicoleLVMullis

Joined: 5/9/2012
Posts: 34
As a Detroit girl who recently completed an international assignment, this essay made me do a fist-pump in front of my computer. Great story and great writing.
Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012 11:53:31 AM
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