Do you remember in elementary school when a new student came into the class?
Students would make posters, throw a party, have popsicles, and it would be a fun time. New students called for a special welcoming, everyone knew how to give them when we were young.
Now, perhaps a flimsy handshake or an awkward gesture will welcome the new students. Teachers barely acknowledge them, and when they first speak in class everyone is left thinking, “who is this person and since when have they been in my class?”
Part of the reason for this is that our high school is incredibly larger than our kindergarten days. We know so many more people now, and we don’t have time to meet every single person on campus. The excitement for a new student has worn off over the years, but not for the transfer students themselves. For them, a long new journey of ups and downs at Palo Alto has just begun.
A “bubble” is a commonly used term to describe Palo Alto, a well-off suburb of San Francisco. Many of us have lived in Palo Alto our whole lives; we have gone through the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) since kindergarten, and are nearing the end of high school.
However, teenagers move from other cities, states or even countries to become new students at Paly.
For students at Palo Alto High School, the atmosphere is competitive and our lives end up swamped in homework, studying or extracurriculars.
Amid this demanding lifestyle, students still enjoy spending time at spots like University Ave., Town & Country and Stanford Shopping Center.
For many, moving to another city is a scary thought. We would know little to no people; the right places to go might be a strange transition.
One may move from a rural area to a suburban city, or from people who snack on goldfish as opposed to our prestigious kale chips at Trader Joe’s.
How have new students fit-in to our diverse way of living? A few students that recently moved to Palo Alto helped in answering these questions.
During last summer in August, Paly junior Jordan Dillard and his family moved from his old home in Milwaukee, Wis.
“Although I’ve moved five times in the past six years, it’s been especially difficult with this last move, having been right in the middle of high school.”
According to Dillard, he has lived in the Midwest for most of his life, and that one of his hardest transitions was getting used to our consistently warm weather.
“I’ve noticed the people in California, and especially Palo Alto, are a lot more outgoing, even to strangers, than those in Wisconsin,” Dillard said. “It’s probably the difference in weather.”
Aside from a big shift from one state to another, the transition to a much bigger, public school was just as significant for Dillard.
According to him, 400 students attended his old private school. He described his old school as a “county day school,” a term used to describe more strict learning environments.
While Dillard believes that the environment at Paly is stressful, he has seen such conditions in his old school as well.
“Of course, there are others who load up their schedules up with as many honors and AP courses as they can in their last two years,” Dillard said. “There will always be students like this who try and challenge themselves in this way, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps this is found to be happening much more often with students at Paly.”
According to Dillard, he enjoys going to Peet’s Coffee and Tea to relax or to study because he loved the atmosphere of cafes.
In addition, he has been introduced to many new things in Palo Alto that he never knew previously existed.
“I’d never heard of foods like boba tea and avocado toast,” Dillard said. “After having told that to a few friends, I certainly do now. There’s also the factor of living in one of the tech-centers of the world, so it’s been pretty interesting to simply hear about all the innovation that goes on around here.”
All-in-all, Dillard believes that his frequent moving from one place to another will help him in the long run.
Dillard said, “I think it will certainly help when the time comes for upperclassmen to make the next big move in their lives in the transition to college.”
Making a short drive down the Sacramento River, Warren Wagner moved down to the Bay Area over the last summer. Although just a few hours away, Wagner has noted many differences between Palo Alto and the state capitol, many of which include people’s jobs.
“In Palo Alto, everybody’s family works in tech, while in Sacramento most people work in government-related positions. Palo Alto is a lot more racially diverse, but it also isn’t as economically diverse. In Sacramento, there are a lot more people from different incomes.”
According to Wagner, the Paly campus is much nicer than his old school, and the environment is “a bit more competitive.”
“I respect the people who are so dedicated but the culture can be a little toxic,” Wagner said.
Even though Palo Alto brings many new things to the table, Wagner said that there are things missing from this city that he had in Sacramento.
“There were a billion great thrift stores in Sacramento but we don’t have many here,” Wagner said. “It is definitely unfortunate, but I enjoy the ones we have here. The flea market Paly holds is also a great place to go with friends.”
For Wagner, one of the hardest things to get used to was the food and its overwhelming price.
“The main thing different here food-wise are the young kind of ‘hip’ places like Asian box or PokiBowl,” Wagner said.
He said that “there are more young kind of ‘hip’ places here in Palo Alto,” and that “all the food here that is not from a massive chain is way more expensive than it would be in my hometown.”