The New Kid in Town


Jackie Vaks, Reporter

Being the “new” kid is never easy. The fear of being in an unfamiliar setting, with new people, and the reality of your environment being completely different than what you’re used to. Moving at this age is hard — there is no way around it. No one is happy to leave their life and go to a new place. Switching to a new school comes with a lot of stress and anxiety, but also an opportunity for new beginnings. 

For people who move, it’s common to feel like you are starting over. You must learn new streets, new faces, and new ways of doing things. People can dress or talk in different ways. Slang and accents may sound different in your new community, depending on how far you go. It is natural for people to feel out of place in a new environment where they do not understand customs and rules. An unexpected difference may be the school. It is easy to assume that one school is very similar to another, but your new school may not use the same textbooks or procedures. Some of your courses may be different, or the teacher may have covered topics you are not familiar with. 

I moved to Boca Raton from Brooklyn, New York in April of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. Moving from a city that never sleeps to the suburbs of Florida was definitely a huge change. No more trains or busses to use whenever I need to go somewhere, no more stores that are within walking distance, no more friends that I have grown up with: no more anything. Life felt like it completely stopped and I felt so alone. My first year of school here was spent virtually so I didn’t have an opportunity to make friends, and now being a senior it’s very difficult to include yourself in any sort of friend group. After a year of living here, I knew it was for the best and I was no longer mad at my parents, but the feeling of not being able to graduate with my friends still makes me emotional. 

The difference in school was also a difficult change. Some of my standardized state tests from New York didn’t transfer over, so I had to retake them. There were also required classes I had to take with younger grade levels that did not even exist in my old school. Everyone has a plan for high school and I truly felt like my plan was crumbled into pieces. Everything I had worked hard for went down the drain and had to be completely redone. This was a very challenging part of my move. 

Studies from Psych Central show moving teenagers in the late high school period may have serious academic, social, and psychological consequences that should be considered. Compared with young children where the family is the center of their universe, while teenagers are beginning to mentally separate from their families. Moving at this point can push the teenager back to a more dependent state that he or she cannot bear, or it can artificially accelerate his or her unprepared independent state. Teens who experience moving are half as likely to graduate from high school in early adulthood as those who do not move in early adolescence. Studies from U.S News showed that teens who move have a 62% chance of finishing high school, and those who move more than once have a 60% chance of graduating.

I interviewed Jasmin Romero, a senior here at  West Boca Raton High School. She is also a transfer student and has been in two other schools before starting her junior year here. “Coming here my junior year, it was definitely scary at first. I was lucky enough to have my younger brother and cousin by my side, but unfortunately, with opposite schedules, it was hard to see them at times. Moving here from Miami, it’s pretty different from the suburbs of Boca Raton. When I started last year, half of the school was remote. I felt like even trying to make friends was hopeless. Eventually, as the year went on, I got more and more familiar and the stress of being new slowly went away. I made new friends, helped out the football team after school, and even got an after-school job. Overall, I’ve had a great experience here at this high school and I know it will continue to get better and better”. 

Although it’s been a stressful two years, moving here was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m very grateful to have moved to such a beautiful area, with a beautiful school. It was definitely stressful in the beginning, but after having time to adjust, I know I was meant to be here. I’ve made so many new friends, participated in new hobbies, and more. I also got an after-school job that helped me make friends that I hang out with outside of work! I will always get emotional about leaving my friends and old school, but I know life has a brand new chapter in store for me.  

Moving is difficult, but it has definitely taught me some valuable skills: how to make new friends, be flexible, and orient myself in unfamiliar places. Saying goodbye is never easy, but it doesn’t mean it’s forever. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch today; share photos and videos, let your friends know the good and bad differences between your old home and your new home. Although learning these lessons may seem difficult at the moment, it’s possible that once it’s settled in, you’ll like the new place better.