Two years ago, if you would have told me that I would move to a brand-new school in the middle of fifth year I wouldn’t have believed you. If you would have also told me that there would be a global pandemic that basically stopped normal life, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you.
Well like most things I’ve learned in the past year, not everything is predictable. Like many people this year, I’ve not really been sure what the future would look like. About a month and a half ago I made the decision to move schools. This was a really big decision for me, and it definitely wasn’t an easy one to come to as I wasn’t just leaving behind my school but people I’ve known and grown up with since I was five.
I think moving to a new school where you don’t really know anybody is always a bit difficult no matter what age you are but in the middle of a pandemic it’s a much more stressful experience. The school I was moving to is one of the biggest secondary schools in Ireland with a student population roughly three times bigger than my previous school. Despite the new school environment and the ongoing pandemic, I was most worried about whether or not I’d have anyone to sit with at lunch. I’m normally quite an outgoing person but I can be quite shy and timid around new people. Going into it I knew I would find it a bit hard to adjust at first, though I didn’t realise how different it would be because of the pandemic and all the social distancing measures.
COVID-19 pandemic made things difficult
Moving schools in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic inevitably means that things are going to be different. I had to buy a school uniform over the phone because of Level 5 restrictions. I had to learn how to get around the school following the one-way system, and learned new school rules and Covid rules at the same time. Normally when I’m nervous or not too sure about something I google it, but when I needed advice on what it’s like to move schools and make new friends the internet wasn’t so helpful. After all it is a bit hard to smile at people from under a mask. I was really anxious about getting to know new people and make friends when I couldn’t really see their faces.
Getting to know new people
The night before my first day I was a bundle of nerves and barely slept. I was awake at the crack of dawn checking and triple checking I had all my books ready. I was really nervous on that first day and nearly forgot to put on my mask when I was walking into the school. But other than that it went really well, and I couldn’t believe how kind and helpful everybody was. That first week I only got lost twice which I consider an achievement but the strangest thing for me by far was being introduced to people without seeing their faces. In fact, I still don’t know what my teachers actually look like. Another thing with mask-wearing is that if you are introduced to someone when they’re wearing their mask you may not actually recognise them with it off. Those first few days definitely weren’t the easiest but I’m gradually getting the hang of things and starting to settle in, though I can safely say that moving schools in a pandemic is definitely a unique experience.
My advice for others moving school during a pandemic
If there was any advice I could give to somebody it’s probably this – a new school means a fresh start so try to let go of anything holding you back. Try to be positive about it. If you are like me and get really nervous and shy around new people, my best advice is just trying to be as confident as possible and get to know as many people as you can. The more effort you put into making friends at the start, the easier it’ll be. If you need help finding the way to a class or you get lost, just ask somebody. You are in a new environment and people know that you are new so they will be willing to help you. The most important thing is to be yourself. It’s best not to pretend to be someone you are not. It might be a bit hard to adjust at the start, but it will get easier as you get more familiar with your classmates and your surroundings.