By Sophie Gold
Change can be scary. And high school definitely means change. The prospect of entering high school was never far from my thoughts over the summer. I felt anxious and excited, apprehensive and eager all at the same time. The Labour Day weekend was less a vacation than an extended waiting game before the change became real. But hey, what did I know about high school? Only that passed on to me by friends and family who had survived (and even thrived in some cases), teen movies and the Barenaked Ladies’ This Is Me In Grade Nine. In hindsight, I was unreasonably nervous, irrationally fearful yet always hopeful. I bet some of you felt similarly. Seven weeks in, I am relieved, involved and settling in. Most of the things I had been so worried about never happened (or haven’t yet); those that did aren’t scary after all. Needless to say, there were still some big changes.
The biggest difference is the schedule. Previously, my schedule consisted of all of my courses year-round, with each period lasting about forty-five minutes. Suddenly, I have only four courses, every day, each one for seventy-five minutes. Sometimes I feel that I’m stuck in a Groundhog Day loop. At this point, I am accustomed to my schedule, and appreciate that I have an easier timetable to memorize and fewer books and binders to carry to and from school.
Another challenge has been learning to navigate a new and larger building packed with many more people. My previous schools were tiny in comparison. Entering FHCI on the first day of school, I was lost in a totally new geography. For the first few weeks of school, I struggled to find my locker and classes. I am thankful for the school map conveniently included in the school agenda but that we need a map in the first place … ? I still get lost from time to time and have yet to find the girls’ washroom on the second floor. That said, it’s all part of the adventure and I get to find someplace new weekly if not daily.
Then there’s the traffic in the hallways. It’s one thing being lost; it’s another being lost in a sea of humanity moving in every direction, some of whom are presumably also lost. Some days getting to class is very similar to rush hour traffic without any rules of the road. No amount of warning or training could have prepared me for this chaos and confusion. The number of times I have apologized for bumping into people (and lockers) would put any Canadian to shame. On the upside, 12th graders seem to float effortlessly through the madness like an expert skier shredding moguls. Maybe in time I too will master the double black diamonds of our hallways.
One thing I was very excited about was, and still is, the wide variety of extracurricular clubs and activities that FHCI offers. We seem to have a club, team or committee for everyone and about everything. Many people helpfully advised me that “getting involved” would be key to finding my place and my people in such a large school. As it happened, I probably took too much advice too literally. When the club fair rolled around, I eagerly signed up for too many clubs and my inbox has never quite been the same. It’s been a bit overwhelming at times, but in a good way. Learning to juggle classes and clubs keeps me busier, busier than I was in middle school.
Yeah, change happened and continues to happen. And seven weeks in, it’s not scary and never should have been. But if you are like me, when worried or unsure, you assign an irrationally high probability to those things you don’t want to happen and downplay the likelihood that everything will work out in time. I’ll find that second floor girls’ washroom in good time, and if I get lost along the way I’ll be excited to see what else the school has to offer.