Are you relatively new to AISB or have you been going to AISB your entire life? Or is it something in between? Students (and even teachers) go through different experiences based on how long they’ve stayed at a school, including here at AISB. 

Those who spend several years at one school may find that they’ll have many friends and they’ll know the curriculum and campus well. However, those who move to a new school will be able to get a fresh start and “reinvent themselves,” says MYP and DP music teacher Dawn Lovig, who has taught at AISB for four years and will be departing at the end of this school year. 

While one may not be necessarily better than the other, each has its advantages and disadvantages that make them better suited for different people. 

Short-term Stays

Moving to a new place, whether it’s a new school or a new country, always brings anxiety as well as opportunities.

Lovig says that “starting at a new school is always a chance to try something new. Different student populations; different languages that are being spoken by students and staff; so it’s always interesting to come and see what will work in a new environment.”

The opportunity to experience new things is beneficial, especially for students as they get to grow and develop with an open mind.

However, there’s a lot of uncertainty and worries as well for anyone moving to a new place.

MYP math teacher John O’Brien, who has been at AISB for over 20 years, says, “It’s tough [being new], you know? And it’s sometimes tough to make friends [and] figure out how you fit in. And so I think whenever you go to a new place, whether it’s Bucharest or AISB or someplace else, there’s a bit of trepidation because you don’t know how it’s going to be.”

Music teacher Dawn Lovig. (Photo by Ariba A.)

There are also the effects that moving has on a person’s mental health to consider. The Kentucky Counseling Center stated that moving causes things like poor focus, forgetfulness, and a lack of organization, which can impact a student’s studies as well as their personal life and their abilities to establish new relationships.

That’s also why it’s especially important to socialize as a new student. An article from the University of Buffalo quoted clinical associate professor Wendy Quinton, claiming that “socialization has benefits beyond human interaction. It’s associated with less depression, lower levels of homesickness, better stress management and greater life satisfaction.”

Socializing is essential for new students so that they can adjust quickly and not have to worry too much about fitting in, and although it may be difficult at first, some find that it’s definitely helpful.

It’s tough [being new], you know? And it’s sometimes tough to make friends [and] figure out how you fit in. And so I think whenever you go to a new place, whether it’s Bucharest or AISB or someplace else, there’s a bit of trepidation because you don’t know how it’s going to be.

MYP Math Teacher John O’Brien

Grade 9 student Rebecca M., who is in her first year at AISB, says that due to being new at AISB she “became more social.” She says, “at first I was very introverted and I didn’t speak to anyone apart from my friends. Now I feel like I try to talk to a lot more people.”

She was able to get to know people better due to the need to socialize more.

This development is happening as you adapt and adjust to a new place, such as improving social skills and gaining experience from different opportunities.

Lovig says that an “open mind is super important because of course it’s not going to be exactly what you’re used to any time you move somewhere new, so it’s trying to be ready for the unexpected and the surprises.”

You can expand what you know and experience different cultures and ways of doing things when you move to somewhere new, whether it’s a school or a country.

Long-term Stays

When you live in one place for a long time, you establish many relationships and are well-adjusted to the way things are, whether it’s the school’s curriculum or the weather. You know where to find everything you need and you know many people. However, not everyone stays in the same place with you.

As you stay in one place, your friends may leave and move to other places. As someone who has been at AISB for over two decades, O’Brien knows what this is like.

“You get to know people,” O’Brien says, “and then they leave, and so now when people come, you know they’re gonna leave, and sometimes it’s hard to make a long-lasting relationship because you know they’re going to leave.”

O’Brien says that most of the core bonding happens when new cohorts of teachers arrive and that long-term teachers “don’t make as many connections now with new people coming in because they’ve made connections with other new people.”

Grade 9 student Nicole S., who has attended AISB for over 9 years, has had a similar experience, saying that “a major disadvantage [of staying at the same school for so long], is when you become close friends with someone and then they leave the school, and you don’t stay in that much contact with them since they left the country, and you grow apart and don’t have many things left in common.”

Math teacher John O’Brien. (Photo by Ariba A.)

However, there are also a lot of social groups already formed, so when you stay in one place for a long time, you find that you become part of one so you have people that you know and there’s a sense of comfort as everything is familiar. The people, the places, the curriculum. 

As mentioned before, there’s a mental toll of having to leave a place you’ve grown comfortable with and formed memories at, as well as leaving the people you’ve grown close to, which can impact your experience wherever you move to and make it difficult, if it’s a new school, to catch up and form new relationships. This can also affect your grades since there are so many different things to keep in mind: Where do I sit? Who do I talk to? I’ve never learnt this before, have I? And so on. 

Whether you’ve been at AISB a long time or short, all are welcome. (AI image by Adobe Firefly)

When you also stay at one place, you have these routines and rituals of your own and James Blake, an assistant principal at The Skinners’ Kent Academy, concludes that these “help students feel familiar with their learning environment, and in turn they learn better.”

When you have all these routines and systems of your own design, then you don’t have to worry about change and it’s all familiar. This allows you to prioritize your education. It’s arguable that when you move, you get to have a fresh start, but you do need to focus on creating all these new routines and finding out where whatever you need is. 

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Neither moving around often nor staying in one place for a long time is necessarily better than the other, but they each have their advantages and disadvantages to them and certain people may find that one suits them better than the other. 

Even though the familiarity and sense of belonging you have living in one place for a long time is comfortable and helps you to focus on developing, there’s also development happening when you move to another place, especially one that’s entirely different from where you were before. It’s a life-changing experience and you should embrace the new opportunities that are presented. 

“If, at the beginning, you feel stressed and you feel like you won’t fit in, don’t worry,” long-term student, Nicole, says. “It will grow on you over time once you find the people that you actually fit with; the people you can actually, properly get along with; not just classmates, but actual friends.”