Junior adapting well after recent move from Korea and Japan

May 25, 2017 — by Frederick Kim and Lina Kim

Reporters interview Luke Roh about his adaption to Saratoga after he moved from Korea.

Under a cloudy sky, junior Luke Roh walked to his first-period class, his shoes splashing against the puddles on the ground. He reached for the door handle, but he hesitated, wondering what his new life in America would be like. Having moved to Saratoga in early January, Roh came in the middle of what many consider to be the hardest year of high school.

Roh was born in Seoul, South Korea, and lived in Suwon, South Korea, until two years ago when he and his family moved to Japan for his father’s work.

In Japan, Roh went to an international school for a year, where he was exposed to an environment dependent on the English language for the first time.

“Two years ago, I had to prepare my English for interviewing,” Roh said. “I prepared for the questions that I expected them to ask.”

Due to his well-traveled childhood, Roh was not particularly intimidated by moving to California, a move that was again because of his dad’s work.

So far he has seen several key differences between these countries and his life here. While Korea and Japan are more urban, Saratoga has a suburban feel with many recreational spaces, such as parks, where people can relax away from the stresses of their daily lives.

Another major difference he notices is the typically busier student life in Korea compared to the students here.

In Korea, most students go to cram school, specialized schools that guide students to their educational goals, and stay there until 10 p.m., while most students in Saratoga exercise or hang out with their friends once school ends, from what Roh has observed.

While Roh is not fully proficient at English yet, he is assimilating well into Saratoga High and the American culture.

AP Physics teacher Kirk Davis said he noticed how Roh is doing better, especially because he now has an American-style haircut.

Roh currently finds AP Physics and Precalculus to be his hardest classes, much like many other students. Despite the difficulty of AP Physics, Roh came to America with background knowledge of physics and doesn’t find the concepts hard, although his “biggest issue is [interpreting] the style of the problem,” Davis said.

As  Roh’s teacher, Davis has been putting extra effort into keeping the class comfortable for Roh.

“There’s two fluent Korean speakers in my class, and I make sure that he has them around if he needs,” Davis said. “I take care who I pair him with in lab groups.”

Besides doing well in his classes, Roh is also excelling in sports. Since he played badminton as a hobby back in Korea, Roh participated in badminton as a varsity player.

Additionally, Roh is also continuing his hobby of biking. He says that he likes to do small tricks with his bike.

“When I lived in Korea, fixie bikes, a bike with a fixed gear, were popular. So, I bought one and rode with my friends, and we started to do some tricks,” Roh said.

Although Roh dearly misses his friends as well as his home back in Korea, Roh agrees that he has adapted well in California.

When I heard that my family and I would be moving, I felt confused and nervous because I got bad grades in English in Korea,” Roh said. “However, in aspects of living and adventure, I really looked forward to going there.”

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