Thoughts on Starting a New School

Friends, family, neighbors, and peers often ask me how my new school is going. Again and again, I tell them: “It’s a big transition.”

Coming in as a junior is challenging because everyone is already familiar with the teachers and classes. I finally feel I’ve adjusted to the academic side, but it took at least a quarter of the school year.

Socially, it’s also been difficult, as everyone already has friend groups that have formed over the length of two years. It’s not that I don’t have friends at school – I have people to talk to in class, people to sit with at lunch – but outside of OVS, I tend to see people from my old school.

I miss them so much. I miss sitting next to Ula in every class and laughing with Siya in the lunch line. I miss my favorite teacher, Marie, and our advisories out on the soccer field. I miss hugging Danielle and Estrella each morning, working with Tomoki on math homework, and all the other mundane activities that, in reality, meant so much to me.

I spend every weekend catching up with these incredible people, but for the other five days of the week, it feels like a piece of my life or even of myself, is missing. “It will take time to adjust,” I tell people. Eventually, I will find a balance between these two parts of my life. But for now, I’m trapped in the space between.

PC: https://www.archpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/S8C_OVS-Buildings-twilight-Aug-2021_01.jpg

^^ Our beautiful campus here at OVS.

Running

This is not just to make Mr. Alvarez happy. I am beyond angry that I got covid, not because of the amount of late work I’m doing this fine Sunday night and not because of the stress I currently face around college, but because it likely destroyed my shot of finishing my last cross country season successfully. For three years i have struggled, fought, and cried over my times in cross country and each year i’ve gotten a little but better. This year, before I even had covid it felt like I had reached a plateau in my running yet every day that passes that I sit in my room I get more and more hopeless about running in the 18s this season. Cross Country is very strange, as far as running in total goes my times are dismal and downright bad but the amount of effort and work I’ve put in makes me proud of them, in the end though it’s futile because I will never go anywhere with running i’ll just finish this season and likely never run in the same sense again yet still I have this need and desire to keep trying my best and keep pushing beyond what I’m capable of. This stretch of covid has just made the fight so much harder and it’s difficult to keep going especially with a positive attitude that’s necessary for captainship.

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CIF runners post-race last year, pc: Ms Wachter

School Bus Blues

I’ve always hated the school bus, my lack of power and choice of where it goes and when it arrives, it’s never the right temperature in a school bus. You sit there with a sweaty back sticking to the faux leather seats (why do they try so poorly to imitate leather, nobody expects a bus to be a Chariot of luxury) which somehow are always a little too upright. The smell of a bus can never be replicated, like a quiet locker room with some freeway pollution. Your knees press against the seat in front of you desperately trying to get comfortable, that’s an uphill battle— nobody has ever left the school bus feeling refreshed and ready to go. The moment I could finally get my license arrived after freshman year, never again would I be tainted by the horrendous thing they called a vehicle. Never again would I wait hours for it to arrive at the upper campus, and never again would I be forced into that place that’s never big enough, warm enough, or cold enough. Or so I thought since I’m writing this as I make the arduous journey to LA in such a school bus, it’s one of the last times I’ll ride one and there is something so reminiscent of a time I’d long forgotten. This is the new bus though, I never rode it freshman year, still, I’m sitting in the very back and every bump seems to fly us into the air. Still, I’m sweating more than I will in the cross-country race I’m about to run. And still, I think we likely will be late as we travel a whopping fifty-five miles per hour through Woodland Hills. There is something beautiful about a school bus though. The way it groans and struggles to move. Each mile, each foot it travels another desperate journey that it somehow completes without complaint. I like the sounds the bus makes. Every jolt leads to a new one, a hiss of air releasing from the suspension, the squeak of the seats jumping up and down, the sounds of students talking, and the ambiguous notes of music from someone’s AirPods turned up too loud. I like that I have no control over where I’m going or when I’ll be there, perhaps the most relaxing thing I’ll ever do is ride a school bus. The school bus doesn’t care about who you are or what you want, it doesn’t care if you’re working hard enough or if you need to take some time for yourself, it just keeps on struggling one more foot, one more mile, one more groan, hiss, and squeak. 

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pc: Me

Essay Pt. 2

The other half of last week’s essay:

Salem, being rigidly devout, is also a town of social restraints and inhibitions. “‘There is either obedience or the church will burn like hell is burning,’” Minister Parris threatens. Novels, theater, celebration, and any ‘vain enjoyment’ are forbidden, as is the Puritan way. The narrator observes: “Evidently the time came in New England when the repressions of the order were heavier than seemed warranted by the dangers against which the order was organized.” Order is the foundation holding society together, but it also causes frustration in those who are oppressed. Abigail and the other girls, who have been inhibited by the constraints of Salem’s theocracy, are inspired to rebel by dancing and running naked in the woods. Suddenly, they are granted power that has been withheld from them previously, and the Witch Trials occur as a result.

PC: https://mdtheatreguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/The-Crucible-550×361.jpg

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, The Crucible showcases the Puritan importance of a moral reputation. For example, when Parris suggests that Abigail’s name may be ‘soiled’, she is outraged at the prospect. “‘My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!’” comes her outburst. Abigail is not the only villager concerned with her reputation. Reverend Parris, himself, worries incessantly about his notoriety, as any bad word could threaten his ministry. “‘If you trafficked with spirits in the forest, I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it,’” he frets. It is evident that a reputation devoid of sin is of utmost importance to the villagers. To preserve their own good standing, they will not hesitate to bring down others, setting the stage for the brutality that is the Witch Trials.

This stress of maintaining a ‘clean’ name, together with an emphasis on the supernatural and strict social restraints, is at the core of Salem’s Puritan society. Ultimately, it is due to these characteristics that mass hysteria is able to take root in the town and spread like wildfire. Otherworldly explanations are sought out, social restraints encourage rebellion, and the concern of a reputation pits neighbor against neighbor. Miller’s writing reveals the forces at work in Salem, Massachusetts, and their dire consequences.

Essay

I’m so tired, so here’s part of my English Essay on The Crucible:

Puritan Attitudes in The Crucible

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a semi-fictionalized play based on the Salem Witch Trials of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1692-93). Salem is Puritanical, meaning they follow a strict moral code and disapprove of pleasure and luxury. Within this culture, Miller tells the story of a lustful girl, a skeptical farmer, a corrupt minister, and a village brewing with secrets and vengeance. After a strange incident in Salem’s forested outskirts, all become embroiled in a Witch hunt that proves deadly. Through well-crafted characters and other story elements, the author manages to capture the Puritan attitude of the time period. 

PC: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjE1MDUxMjg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTA3OTg2.V1.jpg

It is clear from the start that Salem society places an emphasis on the supernatural. Its residents see evidence of God and Satan in all aspects of life. For example, a farmer named Walcott purchases a pig from Martha Giles and blames its prompt death on otherworldly causes. “‘Now he goes to court and claims that from that day to this he cannot keep a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitches them with her books,’” Martha’s husband explains in disbelief. Like so many other townsfolk, Walcott is unwilling to hold himself accountable for his mistakes and faults, preferring to lay the blame on witchcraft. Goody Putnam likewise finds the supernatural at the root of unfortunate events, condemning her midwives for a series of seven miscarriages. This habitual blame is wielded as a weapon, and accusations eventually lead to hangings.

24/7 Anxiety (Yay)

Trigger warning for anxiety, OCD, and violent intrusive thoughts

I have been so anxious lately and nothing has been helping. Everything makes me anxious. Talking to people makes me anxious, being near people makes me anxious, people’s expectations make me anxious, and even thinking about those things makes me anxious. Knowing how behind I am in school makes me anxious, and thinking about how I’m disappointing people by not being my normal self is making me anxious, and feeling like I have no one who really likes me at school is making me anxious. It’s making me anxious that my birthday is coming up, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when I become an adult next year. Even being alone in my room makes me anxious because I’m just avoiding my anxious thoughts and the thought of having anxiety makes me anxious.

So yeah, literally everything is making me anxious.

My obsessive thoughts are not helping. Most of it is stuff like people are going to die because of the socks I picked out, my family will get into a car crash because I used the wrong color pen, or that I didn’t step on an equal amount of cracks with both feet and so now my leg is going to get amputated. I get super anxious about everyday actions causing harm to people I love or to myself. I can’t avoid the anxiety even if I’m not thinking about other people and their thoughts of me, because even my brain has turned against me. It’s really hard to keep the obsessive thoughts away, and not doing the compulsions that come with them gives me so much anxiety that it’s overwhelming.

Basically, it feels like I’m in a sinking ship and nothing is working to help me learn to swim and nobody is hearing me when I ask or scream for help and everybody hates me. Anyways.

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Time Flies…

After this week, I have four weeks left. I don’t know how to describe my feelings, but it all just happened too fast. Because of the pandemic, I didn’t even feel like I’m a high schooler and I’m about to go to college. For half of my high school, I’ve been staying in my house and doing homework. During the other part of my high school life, I was still busy studying and getting ready for college. I wake up, study, gym, and sleep every single day. My high school year has been very different from my expectations. I thought those things that happen in high school movies are the things that are going to happen to me, but I guess it’s just a movie, right? Time flies by way too fast. It’s really hard for me to take it slow and enjoy the moment. Even the bad times I’ve been through are going so fast.

Photo Credit: HuffPost UK

Living away from home

When I was 4 years old, I lived away from my parents for the first time as I went to a boarding school for kindergarten. At the age of 11, I moved even further away, to a foreign country on the other side of the earth. Through living independently (not completely independent, I had to live with a host family or in a boarding school) at a relatively young age, I’ve experienced both positive and negative sides to it. 

I can have a lot more freedom since my parents are far away, and I can do whatever I want in my free time. But this also brings the major downside— the loss of self-control. I always had a hard time with time management, and after I started to study abroad, the situation became worse. I didn’t know a lot of English, so I didn’t understand anything in class, I tried to take notes without knowing even what they meant, but it didn’t work, and I still can’t keep up with my class.  Being the only Chinese student, the overwhelming foreign language and environment smacked me. I gave up doing any school work, resulting in a row of Fs on my transcript.

Although I don’t regret anything about my experience, my suggestion to parents who are considering sending their kids to another country is: to make sure their child knows what they are doing before sending them off to a place full of strangers. 

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Using Spanish

I have taken Spanish casually for 9 years now and at no point have I thought I have been good at it. I never really paid attention until high school, but completing workbook pages in Spanish was my least favorite homework. The work I was assigned was habitually tedious and boring. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoy listening to music in Spanish and speaking Spanish with people who speak the language.

Last year, I hated Spanish 3 Honors. I hated learning tenses and rules, what even is the reflexive? This year I am in AP Spanish, which is more conversation and application-based, which is the first Spanish class I have really enjoyed. My speaking ability has improved immensely, and I have a good grades without feeling like I am slaving over the work. This has given me confidence in speaking that I never really had before.

I have also started speaking mostly Spanish to the new girl in my grade from Spain. I have talked to her friends who only speak Spanish for hours on the phone and have gotten only good reviews.

I am very proud of how far I have come in speaking Spanish and feel like I can have a decently fluent conversation with just anyone.

PC: Pintrest

Cold

I got a cold. It came on last week Thursday, with a dry throat. I suffered through two days of school, then went home, where it got much worse. I tried to hang out with a friend on Saturday and just felt horrible and fell asleep. I was in bed from then until Friday morning.

Being in bed all week actually gave me some much-needed rest and relaxation, but the looming stress of schoolwork hung over me, making it less enjoyable. I managed to get my work done, but I couldn’t turn a corner on my cold. I was, and still am stuffed up, even though I feel better now (Sunday).

I pushed myself to drive to school on Friday, an hour and forty-five-minute drive both ways which in retrospect I should not have attempted. I was still sick, so I woke up late, got to school late, went to two classes, and halfway through the third, decided to go home. I did take my important stats test and finalized a journalism story, but it wasn’t great.

photo credit: today

In addition to my fatigue, I got denied from my top school, which sucked. I spent the weekend resting, which was great, and I hope to catch up on my work this week, slowly climbing up a mountain of papers, tests, and materials. 9 more weeks soldiers.