A shake up in life

Written by Jettie Ho

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Breaking in new shoes can be a painful process, but you don't throw the new shoes away, instead you just keep going and with time the shoes get better.

Every year, there are approximately 50 new secondary students in Renaissance College, a private independent international school run by English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong.

Sometimes it is a horrible and terrifying experience where new students get completely neglected by people around them. Sometimes it can be a pleasant and amusing experience for people who don’t have a hard time adapting.

On minds of current students who have been in the school for almost half of their lifespan, there are two buttons they can click on: approach or ignore. They decide who to talk to, or who not to.

They are also said to be the ‘destiny decider’ of the new students. A sentence by them can affect new students’ reputation in the entire year. It is very realistic, even in a kid’s life, and adults can often underestimate the power of words.

“Of course it’s hard being a new student, everyone is going to judge you the moment you step into the class. If a popular person doesn’t like you, you’re screwed, the whole year won’t like you,” Yonah Chan, a year 8 student, who has studied in Renaissance College since Year 1, said in an interview.

For a student who has studied in the school for quite a while, they are still afraid of being judged. No matter how long they have lived under the same roof, it does not change how one views or thinks. Yonah said that, everyone loves drama and gossip, the energy is just always around us even they know it’s hurting people. No one cares about others’ feelings, they just want the juicy news.

The time of transitioning can be a wrenching social and emotional experience for students. Educationists say helping new students adapt to new school environment is an important prerequisite for achieving education goals as this impacts on academic performance as well.

“A big element of my Head of Year role at the start of the year, and throughout, is helping new pupils settle into RCHK and feel part of the family,” Mr Payne, the new Head of Year of Year 11 said. “It's important that a new pupil feels like part of the class and that the teacher welcomes them into the new environment.”

Kristy, a first year student at Renaissance College Hong Kong is a diffident but cheerful person. Her family moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong last summer, and she was immediately enrolled into the school. Her first thoughts were worries of how she could communicate with others and how she would cope with this new milieu.

“I think it’s neither hard or easy to be a new student. The good part is that people will be nice to you because teachers tell them to do so, but the hard part is that we don’t know how the school system works. Making friends was also one of my concerns, but it turned out great after the first day and it was no longer a concern. Everyone was pretty nice,” Kristy said.

With the help and support from teachers, friends, and family, most new students are able to adjust to the new fresh environment.

Facing a shake up in life, some may still feel impelled to say it is hard being a new student in school. After all, everything isn’t that easy, but it is foremost to stay positive.

“Changing schools can be harsh and difficult, but it shouldn’t be,” Mr Thomas, the head of Individuals & Societies department said, “It really depends on where they come from. If someone came straight from South America, obviously they would have different culture!”

How personality influences social relationships, and vice-versa, have been longitudinally studied. A shake up like this can be like falling off a log, but can also be as hard as nails.

Breaking in new shoes does hurt sometimes, but as time goes by, you get used to it and they feel more comfortable.