You’ve arrived at your new location! Finally, the move is over. Now what? How do you connect to a new place? Where do you start? Who will help you figure stuff out? Do you approach the task alone, ask for help, or ask to help someone else? Find out how others have dealt with this and what skills they developed in starting their new journey.
While I’m not a military brat, I did experience a school transition when I was in 5th grade. Please forgive me for making a big deal of this since you have probably done 8 school transitions or more, but I did learn something from the experience. Please cut me a little slack and see if any of my story is helpful.
As my 5th grade year approached, the county where I lived in Virginia decided to shift the school boundaries. Without even physically moving, I was told I would be attending a new school in August! I had never done that before, and it was intimidating as you well know.
When the school year began, I knew basically no one. Because my bus got to the school about 15 minutes early, I began to gravitate to a playground area behind the school where a bunch of guys in my grade hung out. I watched for several days as they raced each other from one mark in the sand to the other about 30 yards away. I observed the pecking order and who was faster than whom.
One morning I decided to make my statement. I knew I was pretty fast, so I stepped to the line to race. On your mark, get set, GO! As I stepped off the line, a kid stuck his foot out and tripped me. I went sprawling. The laughter started. I got up, without even brushing myself off, walked up to the kid and punched him square in the face! I can remember thinking how odd it felt to hit someone’s face. I had never done it before (or since). I literally decked him, thereby getting his attention and that of every other guy on the playground. I later discovered that he was one of the real tough guys at school, and decking him was my ‘get-out-of-being-hassled’ card for the rest of the year. Actually, it won a certain respect even from him, because as we became friends later on and played on a championship football team together, he had numerous parking lot brawls where he dominated the other guys. But he never fought me.
Now, punching some tough guy in the face might be a strategy you use for fitting in to a new school. Someone told me that the easiest way to get quick acceptance is to smoke; have a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and you’ll make friends on day one. I guess if you gave out $10 bills that could work, too! Obviously, the emotional angst of walking into another new school is tough – harder for some than others. There are clearly different ways that people do it, some are more positive than others, but you have to find some way to connect. If you’re moving to a DoD school, most everyone there knows the drill and being the new kid doesn’t last for half a year. But if it’s a regular public school, the new kid status can seem to linger forever!
It’s not a throw away to say that God is seriously in the midst of your transition and understands the relational complexities and heartache of leaving friends in one location as you move to a new place! The Scriptures have lots of examples of God’s people moving from place to place, and there are things we can learn from how they handled it that might give us a deeper sense of security about the event. No joke, whether you feel him or not, whether you even believe in him or not, God is right with you through the whole process. Try asking for his presence to be made known to you and to give you strength in who he has made you to be. I know it’s very scary to wonder if people in the new school will like you and accept you, but know that God does (in fact he loves you deeply), and begin from that point as you enter a new school.
This story of Moses from birth until he is a grown man covers a couple of major transitions in his life. He is born a Hebrew, but is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in the palaces of Egypt, which means he lived a pretty cushy life! When he killed a man, he ran away to the country where there were a bunch of shepherds and open areas and people called Midianites. While he is way out of his comfort zone (actually, there’s not much ‘comfort’ like he had in the palace), and this is obviously a forced PCS, he approaches his new journey in a new location with a unique strategy. See if you can identify what he does that’s so unique.
Lord, I pray that you would be close to my family and me as we begin this new journey in our lives. I ask for your blessing on our lives as we begin a new life in a new place, find new friends, and experience new schools and jobs. Shelter us when we are at home, be our companion when we are away, and our welcome guest when we return. In all things, I pray that your presence will be our security, our one constant, when all else is changing. Amen.
Here is a map of the area mentioned in Exodus 2. Moses was born in Egypt and ran away to the desert region of Midian. Check out where these areas are located:
The New School
You know the drill. Another school means leaving behind the comforts of what you're used to. But getting prepared before you head off to your new school can make the experience a lot more fun and a lot less stressful.
What can I do to prepare for another new school?
- Research as much as you can about your new school. Call ahead or check out the school's website. Find out about the size of the school, the location, as well as the classes, sports, clubs, and extra-curriculars they offer.
- Contact the school's guidance counselor through email or phone. Check with him/her to see if there's anything you need to have ready before you get there.
- Join your Youth Sponsorship program. This is a perfect way to meet someone and learn all about your new school and installation before you even get there. Check with the Youth Director at your current installation for help finding the person in charge of the program at your new installation. Then, get paired up with someone your age who attends the school you'll be going to. This person can tell you what the other teenagers are wearing, what music they are listening to, what the teachers are like, and what's going on at the school.
- Get your transcript ready. Ask your guidance counselor to help you get an official transcript ready to send to your new school. In the meantime, ask for an unofficial transcript to take with you. You can use this to make sure you get scheduled into all the right classes at your new school.
- Look at one of the suggested checklists below and get your official papers organized. You'll need to bring several important documents with you in addition to your transcript, such as health records, test scores, etc.
- Get involved. Once you do all your research about your new school, pick something to join. If you're involved in an activity now at your current school, see if you can sign up for it at your new school too. Or try something entirely new! Moving can be a great chance to reinvent yourself or just to find different things you may like doing.
(Material taken from Military Youth on the Move)
Have you moved the most? Been to the most schools? Got a tip for everyone else?
Take our military brat poll on moving and schools!
Here’s a guy with a short version of how he makes transitions work for him. Nice strategy:
"I've been to eight different schools in the last ten years. I have had way too many ‘first days of school.' But I'll tell you what, soccer is what has kept me sane. Most places play it year-round, so no matter when I move, I can find a team. With every team, I've been able to meet at least 15 new people. And those 15 people all have other friends. Pretty soon, I know a ton of kids!" Jose, 15
(Material taken from Military Youth on the Move)
Genesis 8:13-22 - After the great flood that wiped out all of humankind and animals except those on the ark, Noah and his family had to figure out how to make life work
Alligator Sky: This video is a bit about the newness of starting a new journey. Interesting words. What do you think?
This clip is from the movie The Great Santini. This clip shows the Meechum family as they begin their new journey in Beaufort, South Carolina. They are challenged by their Marine dad to make a difference in their new location! This hardcore approach may work for some, but clearly not for every family member. We all have our own responses to new challenges, so don’t feel like one approach fits all. You need to find your unique voice in how you navigate these waters with resilience.
Here are some ideas for fitting in to a new location. Do you think these are helpful, or do they miss the reality of your experience as a military teen?
Sometimes when you move to a new place, it can feel overwhelming because no one knows you. You might be worried that you won't be liked or accepted at your new school. It's really easy to think that if you act a certain way or talk a certain way that you will be more popular and make more friends. But in the end, most teenagers can see through an act. Check out the info below to see the best ways to fit in.
What's the best way to fit in at a new place?
- Be yourself. The best way to fit in is to be yourself. Think about all the important things about you. Maybe you love writing stories. Maybe you love the outdoors. If you feel like you have to hide any of these things to fit in with a group of kids, maybe it's time to find other friends.
- Don't give in to peer pressure. If you are being asked to do something that you feel is wrong inside, don't give in just to fit in. It's not worth it! You'll probably wind up with fewer friends and in a lot of trouble in the long run.
- Don't change yourself for others. If all the teenagers at your new school are into something that you don't like, make sure you don't change who you are just to fit in for that moment in time. Stick to your own way to live your life.
- Start small. Don't try to make friends with too many people at once or change yourself to try to become the most popular kid in school. Get to know the kids at your new school first. Be positive and honest, and those kids who are worth being your friends will want to get to know the real you.
- Get involved. Find something you're interested in at school or on the installation. Once you've joined an activity, it's easier to feel like you belong because you're around people with similar interests.
- Remind yourself about all the good qualities you have. When you begin to doubt yourself or notice that you are changing who you are to try and fit in, think about all the things that make you a special individual.
- People eventually will see through an act. Sometimes it might feel like the kids who are willing to change themselves and act or dress in a certain way are the ones with all the friends, but in time, others will see through it. Your only job is to be yourself.
(Material taken from Military Youth on the Move)
OK, this is just for laughs because it’s a funny song about a weird passage in the Bible. After the first time through the chorus, you can sing along (kinda like a Country Western song!). Have fun!
So you thought your moving van was full? Take a look at these photos!!
Write Your PCS connecting story: Go to the ReZilient Life Facebook page and write your story about how you have connected to a new place; this could be a triumphant story or a nightmare story. Either kind of story can be helpful to others, and for sure, someone will identify with what you’ve gone through.