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The Trip Back: Adapting to A Different School System

Submitted By: Timothy Lee (Written in: 2013)

Notes: After arriving back to the United States, adjusting was not easy. Hopefully this story will help ease and assure any students from overseas that everything will turn out fine. If you ever need any advice or help, feel free to contact me.

The Trip Back: Adapting to A Different School System

Life’s tough. Sometimes, transitions have to be made. Transferring from one school system was not easy, and here’s my journey through it all.

After sitting in the plane for a measly thirteen hours, the plane came upon the simmering blacktop of the SFO runway. As the plane slowed to a stop, I wondered, “what will life be like back here in the States?” After two long years in China, my family and I finally returned to the United States and was promptly picked up by a cousin named Jen who brought us to our small apartment house in Union City, California. There we slept the night, dreaming of the days to come.

During the end of summer, I was promptly enrolled into Hyde Middle School. Before school even started, I was transferred to Kennedy Middle School since there were extra spots. Here, I faced many new difficulties getting used to the school system and also experienced issues getting around socially due to the sudden change in the local language. With help from teachers, and some work, I made several friends and also became comfortable with the public school system once more. Over the course of the next few months, I became more and more comfortable with speaking in English without fear of messing up.

The end of the school year saw the eighth graders preparing to go on a trip to Yosemite National Park. The Yosemite trip arranged by our school consisted of many nature exploring activities where we were able to experience the outdoors in ways never done before. One particular activity was a team trust building activity in which our group crawled through a “Spider Cave” in a single file line in a pitch-black environment. The goal of the activity was to trust your partner (the one in front of you) to ensure your safety and be a guide. Although there were other events at Yosemite, our group never did split up in this freezing environment. After one exciting week in Yosemite, we came back to Kennedy Middle School, and this experience is now just a memory waiting to be revisited.

As I reflect back, I remember the hard times that have gone by, a time in which I was just one exposed in a new environment. The teachers that have helped me and shaped my personality, I could not thank them enough for the valuable lessons taught, and the friends who have helped me become who I am today. My journey back from China and through 8th grade was incredible, for I had picked up many new life skills along the line of communicating, establishing friendships, and working as a group. For students transferring from overseas, I’d recommend talking to teachers and going to group events. These memories, especially Yosemite, are the ones that I would never forget.


Notes: Names changed to protect the identity of those mentioned. This story by no means represents a completely factual account of the series of events depicted– it may contain biases, exaggeration, omission of detail, etc.

About Timothy Lee

Timothy Lee is a senior at Monta Vista High School. He moved back to the States in 2012 after living in Beijing, China for two years, and currently lives in Cupertino, California. This cross-culture experience has enabled him to encounter a vast variety of environments in which part of his writings are based on. He is also currently an officer in HEARTS, a nonprofit organization, and a VP at Silicon Valley DECA. He also has a passion in web design, computer science, badminton, and writing.

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