Junior recalls his childhood in Europe

April 5, 2010 — by Girish Swaminath

Transitioning from middle school to high school itself can be a huge ordeal. Then add in the stress of moving to a completely different country. Junior Ramiz Sheikh has experienced this situation when he moved from Germany to California before he started high school.

Sheikh compares both cultural atmospheres and notices several fundamental differences between the two places.

“The lifestyle is definitely a lot different,” said Sheikh. “Most of the people in the United States are loose and open about ideas in general, whereas in Germany, everybody followed rigid schedules and society there was a bit more strict.”

On the downside, Sheikh feels that he has not been able to do as much traveling in America as opposed to Europe.

“Over here, everything is a lot farther and pretty similar, so I don’t travel too much except for local places such as San Francisco and Los Angeles,” said Sheikh. “I guess that was a big thing I had to get used to.”

Sheikh also regrets the fact that he cannot bike anymore as often as he did in Germany.

“I used to go biking a lot with my friends back in Europe,” said Sheikh, “but I don’t feel as motivated to bike here in the United States, especially because I don’t have too much time on my hands.”

Sheikh is extremely happy, though, about the wide range of opportunities available in American schools.

“The school I went to in Germany was quite small and did not have many other activities that I could pursue,” said Sheikh. “I personally think that America is a lot better in terms of education, sports and extracurriculars and opened up my options a lot more.”

Sheikh is used to moving around a lot, since he was born in Washington, D.C., and then went to Singapore and Germany, before relocating to California as his family followed his dad’s work. He feels that these experiences has helped him grow as a person.

“I’ve become more open-minded to different ideas because I have experienced various cultures,” said Sheikh. “For example, in Singapore, there is a huge Asian and Muslim population, so I was used to doing different things.”

As a result, Sheikh fits right in to Saratoga High’s multicultural landscape.

“Since I went to international schools and met students from all over the world, the diversity of Saratoga High and California in general is not shocking to me,” said Sheikh. “I was becoming used to living all over the world.”

Sheikh feels that the United States has changed a lot from his early childhood and is happy that he does not need to deal with language barrier issues as he did in Germany.

“It was really interesting to me at first as to how much America has changed,” said Sheikh. “There is no language barrier in the nation, since in Germany, most people spoke German and it was tough to communicate to others.”

The only disadvantage about moving often is leaving behind some great friends and having to make new ones, according to Sheikh.

“Moving back into the United States did not really seem to be too big of a deal to me but the hardest part is having to make new friends and starting fresh all over again,” said Sheikh.

Sheikh still misses his friends back in Germany.

“My best friend is Danish and it was kind of cool whenever I went to his house, since his parents strictly followed the Danish culture and I was able to learn some of their traditions,” said Sheikh.

“Other than that, I will never forget my visits to the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House with my friends, since those times were some of the most amazing experiences of my life.”

Ever since Sheikh returned to the United States, he has not visited Germany. But he continues to stay in touch with his friends.

“[My friends and I] talk on Skype, Facebook and MSN quite often, usually on the weekends,” said Sheikh. “It’s nice to catch up and see how things are doing.”

2 views this week