‘Outsiders’ adjust to SHS

June 4, 2010 — by Anshu Siripurapu

As almost any freshman will tell you, high school is a daunting experience. Fresh out of middle school they are suddenly faced with a new campus, new classes, new teachers, new people and shockingly, grades that matter.

Even though it is a frightening transition, most incoming students are fortunate enough to bring their old friends along, giving them a support network to survive the first few brutal weeks. Imagine being a student without that support system, thrust into a new environment but with the added burden of not knowing anybody there. For quite a few students, this was the harsh reality.

Freshman Shreyas Nagaraj transferred to SHS this year from Fisher Middle School. Although a few of his friends transferred with him, he still struggled the first few weeks as he got to know the school.

“The first couple weeks were pretty awkward,” said Shreyas. “My friends from Fisher and I stuck together until we found our own groups.”

Shreyas said that being involved in the marching band allowed him to meet many new freshmen and quickly adjust to the new high school.

“After I began making friends, everything went much smoother,” said Shreyas. “It felt great knowing I had a group I could belong to.”

Other students, like junior Pia Mishra also found that getting involved in the school helped them get acquainted with the new school and find new friends. Pia transferred from Monta Vista in her sophomore year and after one semester here, found she liked it much more than her old school.

“Leaving all my friends behind was definitely tougher than I thought,” said Pia. “It was so intimidating the first few weeks meeting all these new people, I didn’t know what to do to fit in.”

Along with the new people, came a totally new environment.Pia said she had trouble adjusting to the confusing campus and trying to get to know all the teachers on campus.

Like Shreyas, Pia found that getting involved in a variety of school activities was the best way to adjust.

“I joined the water polo team, where I met Anika Jhalani, a freshman who was also new and we bonded over that,” said Pia. “Getting involved in commissions and School Site Council let me get to know the administration although the biggest impact was newspaper. I got to meet so many new people on the staff and by going out and interviewing people, it definitely helped me adjust better.”

Even though transferring from different schools is difficult, sophomores Soobin Yoo and Manuel Stimmer both faced the additional challenge of coming to SHS from different countries. Soobin moved last year from South Korea and Manuel transferred this year from Germany as part of an exchange program.

“Moving here was good,” said Soobin, who is still an English learner. “I think I am very lucky.”

Soobin said that the language barrier was what made the move most difficult and for the first few months, he carried a pocket translator with him everywhere to help him learn faster.

“I went to the library everyday, including weekends and holidays to learn English” said Soobin, who can now speak and write English with confidence.

“My friends, teachers and parents helped me adjust,” he said. “Being in band helped as well, I could make many friends in band.”

Although he did not have problems with the language, Manuel also had to adjust to the new culture and lifestyle in the United States.

“In Germany, we have this picture of the United States as “the land of opportunity,” said Manuel, “and now that I’m here, I see that it is. I’m very sad that I have to go back soon.”

Sophomore Adrian Bedard’s family hosted Manuel for his stay in Saratoga, and “adopted” him as a second son.

“My host family was great, they really helped make the transition here so much smoother,” said Manuel. “After the first few weeks, I made new friends here and everyone was so nice and supportive, even the teachers. The school system here has so much more freedom and choice than in Germany and more scholarship opportunities for sports, and I really like that.”

Like all other new students, Manuel found that getting involved in the school helped make him adjust faster, making new friends and having an unforgettable experience.

“I joined the soccer team, where I met some great new friends and I got involved in my class PowerPuff cheer which was a blast,” said Manuel. “Being here in Saratoga was the best year of my life and I’m going to miss it so much when I leave for Germany in three weeks.”

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