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A new ‘home sweet home’

Leesville has a little over two hundred new students every year.

Nadara Albanese, school counselor, explained that a new student’s top priority when starting school is how quickly they can make friends: “It’s always the parents who worry about the academic changes, but the student can only think of the social changes.”

Having never moved myself, I was curious as to what it would be like to move states during high school and if moving is really as bad as it seems. Below are questions that investigate what it’s like to move and what it’s like to know you’re moving soon.

Ashley Zung moved to North Carolina before starting her junior year of high school. She moved from a town outside of Philadelphia in July 2014, not knowing anyone in North Raleigh. Although she was scared at first, after a few weeks Zung was able to feel more at home in North Carolina. On June 10, 2015, Tess Coward, sophomore, will move to Madison, Wisconsin. Coward’s father was offered a  job that required him to move to Madison earlier this year. Coward is finishing her sophomore year at Leesville and will only have a few days in summer to say her goodbyes before the move. Coward has moved before but never at such a formative time.
What was your reaction when your parents told you that you were moving?Completely shocked. I never expected to move once I was a junior, but I was kinda okay with it.

What were you scared about the most before you moved?

I was scared about making friends, definitely, like most teens would be.

When did you start feeling comfortable at Leesville and living in Raleigh?

I started feeling comfortable when I made friends in my neighborhood. They really helped show me around and make me feel like I had someone to go to for anything.  My neighborhood doesn’t have many houses, so I was welcome in their close group.  Making close friends here and doing stuff after school made me feel more at home.

What are some differences between living in PA and NC?

One difference is definitely the food. Also, just the way people live down here is so different than Pennsylvania.

What/who made the move easier for you?

My parents made the move a lot easier on me.  When I first got to North Carolina, I was trying to find a friend to move in with back home.  My parents saw that and let me visit Pennsylvania whenever I could or let my friends come visit me in North Carolina.

What advice would you give to someone who is moving states during high school?

It’s not as bad as you think. Moving seems like the worst thing for some people, but it’s not. I suggest being friendly to everyone and to not let one person tell you who to be or not be friends with.

What do you think will be the hardest part of the move? Why?I think leaving my friends will be the hardest for me. I have grown up with a lot of my current best friends so that makes it extra hard to leave.

Knowing that you’re moving, have you changed the way that you behave?

I have changed the way I behave completely. I don’t care as much about what people think of me. I also know my time is so limited and that I can’t let myself get into any new relationships, because I will just end up having to say goodbye.

How are you preparing yourself for the move?

Well it’s Wisconsin, so I am buying lots of sweaters! I am really trying to make the best of the time I have left at Leesville. I am trying to do things that really make me happy like hanging out with my friends and getting involved in the school’s musical.

What/who will you miss the most when you’re living in Wisconsin?

They all know who they are. Something I can’t imagine is really not knowing anyone. I couldn’t imagine moving to Leesville and not knowing who is friends with who, or who hates who. Raleigh is where I have grown up, and it stinks to leave everything behind.

Are you planning to attend a school similar to Leesville (public, large, etc)?

Originally, I was going to attend a small private school. But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to go. There are already so many changes associated with the move, that my parents and I thought it would be easier for me if we kept the type of school more similar.

What are your general feelings towards moving to Wisconsin?

I feel the same way I think most kids would.  I’m leaving my neighborhood, my school, my commitments, my friends and so much more. I am excited to live in Madison instead of some rural town. Madison is more city-like than Raleigh, so I think that will be a good experience for me.

After talking to Zung and Coward, it is nice to see that both were able to make something positive out of relocating. Experiencing a new way of city life was important to both Zung and Coward. Additionally, each agreed with what Albanese said: making friends is a new student’s biggest fear. The two didn’t mention the other impacts switching schools has. Zung is taking classes as a junior that freshmen and sophomores are taking because of the scheduling differences in PA. Coward didn’t hint at any worry she may have about getting to know new teachers or Wisconsin “norms.”

However, predictably, making friends was and is the biggest concern for the two girls. Adjusting takes time, but as time goes on teens have the ability to feel at home in a previously foreign place.


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