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Transitioning to the American Classroom

October 28, 2020
By Justin

Hi everyone!

I am Justin, a junior at Saint Paul, and an international student from South Korea. I was a former St. Peter-Marian student. I decided to enroll at Saint Paul Diocesan Jr/Sr High School because I thought that the newly merged school would integrate only the beneficial aspects of both schools and subsequently make Saint Paul a better school than the previous two schools.

Let me briefly tell you about my history of studying in America, and my experiences as an international student. In 2015, when "little Justin" was 11, my parents offered me an opportunity to experience American education just for one year. Because I was so young, and only thought about things 5 minutes ahead of me, I permissively said “yes, that would be fun.” Throughout 6th grade at St. Bernadette School, I learned many new things – things I would never forget in my entire lifetime. The lessons I learned at St. Bernadette's formed me into an upright young adult. I began to enjoy America more and more as the school year progressed. American education, at least in my perspective, was much better than the dull and stressful Korean education my sister was going through at the time. I asked my parents if I could stay longer in America, and they agreed. By the time I became a freshman at St. Peter-Marian (SPM), I realized how hard my parents worked to support me. I promised myself, and God, that I would always try my best, no matter what the outcome may be. SPM couldn’t do better in motivating me with such challenging courses, strict teachers, and bright classmates.

When I first heard about the Holy Name/St. Peter-Marian merger, I was shocked and soon became worried I might not be able to see my favorite teachers and the “cozy” school building again. It seemed that everything I became used to was about to break apart and change. I am not much of a sociable and adaptive person, but the two long years I spent at SPM gave me a comfortable American environment with good friends and teachers. The news of the school merger sounded like hitting the “reset” button on the achievements I had accomplished in a video game.

There is saying, “new wine is ought to be stored in new bottles.” Even though the merger had some frustrating aspects, I was reminded that “our SPM community is not disappearing,” and that “it will be something that benefits both schools.” Six months have passed, and now I am a junior at Saint Paul. The transition wasn’t challenging for me at all, thanks to the school staff and faculty who worked hard all summer, day and night/weekday and weekend, to keep everything organized and smooth for students under chaotic circumstances such as COVID-19.

I now think of Saint Paul with the same gratefulness, or even more, as I felt at SPM when I first began my studies in America. The experience I felt during orientation, and the first few weeks of school, is astonishment and pride. Saint Paul has become a better stage for me and my classmates to complete high school. With more teachers and students, courses, extracurricular activities, and opportunities, the Saint Paul community has managed to become a better school than both the previous two schools. My favorite subject is math. So, it certainly is excellent that there are more math and science courses available now and more students participate in the Math Club. To a prospective student who would consider becoming a Saint Paul Knight, I would by all means recommend challenging yourself by joining our community.