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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Coming and Going: The Effects of Moving

By Nicolas Huk on Flickr
By Nicolas Huk on Flickr

As we approach the end of the school year and life becomes hazy, a good portion of students are preparing to move away. Leaving a school can go one of many ways but it commonly prompts tears and sadness, as goodbyes and farewells are always difficult.  

The vast majority of moves are results of parent’s relocating their jobs. WIS parents are notorious for working for the World Bank or the IMF. As a result of working for a big international organization, migrating is common, and has been increasing through the years. In 2015, work-related immigration in the United States was at an all time high, with just under 300,000 people moving, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The major downside to moving is leaving everything you are accustomed to and having to start from scratch, in an unknown place with new people. The vast majority of tears that are caused by a move is from saying goodbye. Goodbye to friends and goodbye to family; goodbye’s are one of the hardest things for a teenager to deal with.

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While we are still developing and finding out who we are and who we want to be, such a big change can prove difficult. “Relocated adolescents often face a double stress of adapting to an alien environment, a new school, and building new friendships and social networks, while simultaneously coping with the fundamental biological and developmental transitions that their peers also experience,” wrote Roger Webb, author of a research paper titled Adverse Outcomes to Early Middle Age Linked With Childhood Residential Mobility.

Another study shows that kids between the ages of 12 and 17 who had recently moved, had a 20 percent higher chance of visiting the emergency room for a mental issue than those of the same age who had not moved, according to the Huffington Post. The strain on a teens mental health during their phase of development may stick with them and affect them later in their life.

Students at WIS are also impacted by this as a result of their (upcoming) moves. “The hardest part of my move will be leaving everybody I know in my current school. I’m also worried about making new friends,” 9th grader Giacomo Mantovanelli, said. Giacomo is moving to Vienna, Austria at the end of the school year because of his father’s job at the World Bank.

Feeling homesick is very common for the students at WIS. Milla Snow, 9th grader said “I miss my friends and teachers. I also generally miss my house, and in particular, my room.” She moved to the D.C. area to go to high school in the United States. When asked about the difficulties that she had while transitioning schools, she said, “I experienced a big culture shock as the US is really different from Russia [where she lived before]. I was generally really homesick. I think that that affected my school life as I was really upset at times.”

Despite having some obvious drawbacks, moving can actually greatly benefit a student, both academically and socially. Migrating, especially on an international level, can open a teenager’s mind to different cultures and ways of life, giving them a global perspective on different cultures. The bias that is naturally taught in a country may be mitigated or expanded to accept others, helping a child in their future professional life. The International Baccalaureate curriculum was built to promote this idea.

Another benefit to moving is meeting new people. Socializing with others who are almost strangers can be difficult at first, but once it has been overcome, they are friends for life. Eventually, in an international school, the majority of people leave and either return to their home country or jet off to somewhere new. The upside to this is you will always have a friend’s couch to sleep on, wherever you are in the world.

Some students are also excited about their upcoming new surroundings. “The city I’m moving to is really cool so I’m excited to hang out there,” Giacomo said. He was there for a few days over winter break, visiting the city and his new school. It is always fun to check out a new place that offers unknown adventures.

Schools are aware of the challenges facing students who are moving. “We get about 200 applications a year, but we try to choose the kids who are the most adaptable and who view moving as a new opportunity.”  Ms. Wright, admissions director said.

Being the new kid is never fun. In a small school such as WIS, the tight community can sometimes feel suffocating, especially when you’re one of the only newbies. Before the start of the school year, the administration pairs some old families up with new ones, so the parents can meet each other. Also, they hosts an annual back to school family picnic, with the purpose of welcoming the new students. The admissions office asks a small handful of current students to meet the incoming ones at the picnic and the next day, for orientation. Besides this two hour event, WIS does not do much else.

There are opportunities for WIS to give support in this area. In other schools, they have created a buddy system in which a long-time student is paired with a new one, who has similar classes. This lasts for a couple days, just to give the new students somebody they can talk to and a (maybe long-term) friend.

Both the teachers and other students are extremely friendly and welcoming, so it is easy to fit in quickly. “Some advice for new students is try to be open minded and appreciate the new environment” Milla said. For the incoming kids, welcome to WIS! For those leaving, you will always be a part of the WIS community.


By Julia Brownell

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