Being forced to move–whether that move is due to your parents’ divorce, foreclosure, or your parents’ job loss, or their having landed a new job–is never easy.
You must make a clean break from old friends, that boy(or girl) you were just beginning to like, and teachers and coaches you were starting to become familiar with. You must start from scratch, and make new acquaintances in all these areas.
The worst mistake you can make is assuming that you can bring any paradigms associated with your old school into your new situation. If you do attempt to do this, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble, because your new situation may involve an entire set of new rules, both written and unwritten. It is your responsibility to learn those and adhere to them.
First Impressions: Appearance Matters
The first thing you need to do is look your best, without wearing the latest fashion fad, and coming across as a seditty person who looks down her nose at all of the other kids, who are dressed more modestly because their parents cannot afford to dress them in the type of outfits your parents can afford to buy for you. This will make your adjustment period more difficult, for you could find yourself friendless. Few people want to be friends with someone they feel is basically stuck-up.
On the other hand, don’t look like a slouch. Make certain your clothes are the correct size, and belt your clothes on you appropriately. Otherwise, you are not likely to make friends–or if you do, it will most likely be the wrong kind of friends, especially if you choose to walk around with your pants hanging down your bottom, exposing your undergarments.
Along the same lines, practice good body language. Walk with your head held high, as opposed to hung downward. Even if you feel like a small goldfish in a huge, new tank–don’t let your body language betray that. Somedays you may want to break down. Do that in the privacy of your own room, at home, when no-one is looking.
Relationships with Adults
Introduce yourself to all your new teachers, principals, and coaches. Exude a pleasant demeanor, as opposed to a negative attitude. When they ask something of you, obey with a respectful attitude, as your parents at home would want you to do at home when they ask something of you. Call them Mr. and Mrs., followed by their last name. At times address them as “Sir,” and “Ma’am.” This will pay dividends when you need to ask them for help with your schoolwork, or any other problem you may encounter. It will most certainly affect the response you get from them, whether it’s “Hi, Ashley, what can I help you with,” as opposed to an attitude of, “Make it quick, girl–don’t waste my time!”
This being said, don’t display a desire to be “too friendly” with your teachers, as if you want to curry special favor with them. Any tactics towards this are doomed to backfire. Maintain an appropriate professional distance; treat all your teachers courteously and respectfully, but don’t show signs of having a favorite adult. If other kids see this, it might evoke a certain fear that you may snitch on them at the first sign of bad behavior on their part. (Sidebar: You should report to an adult any actions that are a clear and present danger to yourself or others. But don’t just tattle to be tattling!)
Relationships with Fellow Students: Making Friends/Dating
Smile at the person sitting next to you. Say “Hi.” The conversation you start could lead to a wonderful friendship. You may start talking, and find out that the two of you have much in common. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses.
Don’t stake yourself only on one friend. Attempt to make numerous acquaintances. Join clubs. My wife often tells the story of how she became part of the marching band, and her high school’s Bible club. She made at least one or two friends that she still keeps in touch with today.
That being said, don’t be flirtatious or give the impression that you want something more to come of the relationship. Before you enter the dating culture of the school, sit back and observe. If the person seems friendly, take it at face value, and don’t read anything else into it. This could keep you out of a lot of heartbreak–and could keep you out of trouble with the boy (or girl) that person happens to be going out with at the moment, if it seems to your friend’s significant other that you are behaving a bit too flirtatiously towards him or her.
Beware of Bullies
Observe your surroundings. Watch how the members of your new student body interact with each other. Ask yourself who the bullies are. Stay away from them, for you don’t want the more decent members of the student body–and your teachers and principals–to label you as one of them. Besides, they could be headed into problems with the law that you don’t want any part of whatsoever. Choose your friends carefully.