Starting a new school is hard. Social dynamics are hard to figure out and friends are sometimes hard to make. For me, talking to new people is a risk that I have to take. This month, I learned that more people are willing to accept you than you think. You take a risk, and often good things can come out of it. Be it a personal experience, new friends or something that you learned. Right now, I have the best friends I can imagine and I am learning new things from them everyday.
I’m really no stranger to switching schools. I mean, I’ve switched six times since first grade—and I’m about the enter grade eight. Last year, when I switched schools yet again, it was most likely my last switch until I graduate.
Anyway, starting Grade 7. It was stressful. Starting a new school was always hard, no matter how many times I had done it. And now? Things would start to actually matter. There were guidance counsellors and electives and full rotary and apparently university applications to build. The academics, too, were harder than I was used to. But it’s been nearly a year since I walked onto my school grounds for the first time. And since then, I’ve made really good friends — ones who understand me, ones who share my interests, ones with opinions that differ from mine enough to start a full-fledged debate, and ones who just make me smile. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and my interests. Since then, I’ve joined the trivia team, the neuroscience club, and the feminism club at my school. I’ve met some really fantastic teachers that have influenced my choices and, in the long term, my future.
So, here are six things that I had wished that I had known when I had started:
- Ask for someone’s name. It’s okay if you forget—most people won’t be offended if you have to ask again! Even teachers.
- Bring a deck of cards. This is just a suggestion, and it doesn’t have to be cards if you don’t want it to be. Basically, something to start a conversation. If you can pull at least one or two people into a game, more will join. In my experience, this is a great icebreaker.
- Connect with your teachers. You know, believe it or not, your teachers aren’t actually all evil. Most of them will like you or at least will want to help you, as long as you make an effort in their class.
- It’s okay to ask for extensions. This is particularly helpful in the upper grades and is kind of a follow-up to number three. I had to do this a few times this year, and every time a teacher said yes. Although you won’t always get a positive answer, especially if you ask too often, ask if you need it. If you have a math test the same day as your science test and your geography project is also due, ask your history teacher if you can have another day or two for her essay.
- Talk to someone. Don’t wait to be approached on the first day by a potential friend. Ask someone if they’re new, too, or if they have siblings or anything like that. Talk about yourself, too, but don’t overshare. Be social; don’t just hang out on your phone!
- Be yourself. As cliché as it sounds, this is solid advice. Join whatever clubs that you want to, even if they’re weird. Make real friends, ones who accept you for who you are more than who you pretend to be.
Anyway, just treasure the time you have right now, because you’re never going to get it back. You don’t have to leap out of your comfort zone, but try to expand it. New school and new friends means new opportunities!