Seventh time’s the charm: Mukerji is a ‘new’ student once again

September 13, 2010 — by Michael Lee

Most students will attend three—at most four—different schools by high school graduation. Then there is sophomore Aashna Mukerji, who is currently on her seventh.

Before her schooling even began, Mukerji was on the move. When she was a year old, her family migrated from Mukerji’s birthplace in Calcutta, India, to Beaverton, Ore. This sudden move was the first of four.

“I’ve never really thought of the United States as my home,” said Mukerji. “I feel more international now, having lived in three continents.”

Her father’s repeated job transfers naturally have forced her to adjust to new places and lifestyles.

“It becomes difficult if you get too attached to a place when you know you’re only there
temporarily.” said Mukerji. “But, in a way, I feel like you make better friends with the ones that make an effort to keep in touch, despite the time difference.”

Friends aside, Mukerji insists that her experiences have positively changed her as well.

“Moving changed my outlook on a lot of the more trivial things that high schoolers stress over,” she said. “There’s a lot of bigger stuff out there. You see a lot more poverty in other parts of the world. It’s a pretty shocking contrast.”

These continuous moves eventually brought Mukerji to Saratoga High, school number seven, but not before a couple of stops along the way.

Mukerji has lived in India, Oregon and California, but she said that her most recent residency, a two-year stay in London, influenced her the most. Mukerji noted that the cultural differences shocked her.

“It’s a lot less conservative than Saratoga, when it comes to drinking and smoking,” she said. “There’s a lot more alcohol use in England because it’s a social activity.”

Her school options, however, softened the blow of culture shock for Mukerji. She attended the American School in London (ASL), which acted as a sanctuary for American immigrants.

If she had not stayed in the American system, Mukerji would not have been able to slide back to U.S. schooling as easily because the English schools covered different topics at different speeds. She said that this was the main reason she joined ASL.

Mukerji appreciated the opportunities that came with her English education, in spite of the necessary assimilation.

“Europe is really different from the U.S., in that it’s a lot easier to travel,” she said. “Field trips included going to Paris, Wales, and Scotland. It was nice to get out of the Saratoga bubble.”

Having attended Argonaut Elementary and Redwood Middle in the past, Mukerji has found it hard to return after being gone for so long.

“It’s interesting to see familiar faces, but it’s hard to gather up the courage and say, ‘Hey, I’m back!’” she said. “I get stared at in the hallways, and it’s really awkward. But it’s really nice when people reach out and make an effort to get to know me, even if we weren’t friends before.”

In her adjustment to life at Saratoga High, she is participating in the school newspaper, upper-level French (thanks to her trips to Paris) and girls’ golf.

Mukerji has had mixed feelings regarding her return. She said that she agreed to return to the U.S. due to a “complicated social situation” at ASL but is unsure of her choice.

However, she decided, despite her challenges, that she would go through her moving experience all over again “in a heartbeat.” She feels that, like her other six schools, Saratoga High is just a new challenge that she can overcome and benefit from.

“Am I ready?” said Mukerji. “I guess it doesn’t really matter if I’m not. The fact is that I’m here, and I have to get used to it.”

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