Sophie Conley is currently a freshman at Elon University. She was born and raised in Ridgefield, Connecticut. However, her world was turned upside down when her parents announced that they were moving the summer before her senior year. They moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, a place vastly different from Connecticut. Having lived in Connecticut her whole life, she was incredibly nervous to have to start over her senior year. New friends, new school, new city and new state.
What was your reaction when you found out you had to move?
I was devastated. Growing up with the exact same group of friends my whole life, it was very hard for me to leave them. I was going to stay with a friend my senior year and my parents did give me that option, but they also made valid points that I wasn’t in college yet and I needed their guidance. At the end of the day I had to be with my family, it was only right. So we ended up making a deal that I would move with them and apply to college and once I got in I could move back to Connecticut and stay with my best friend and finish off the year in Ridgefield. However, a lot changed once I actually moved.
What was your first day of your new high school like?
It was completely different. My old high school had about 300 kids per grade and my new high school had around 900 kids per grade. I walked into my classes and there were about 40-50 kids in each class. Being the new kid and also being a senior was very intimidating because everyone had set friend groups. I not only didn’t know anyone, but because classes were larger, I wasn’t able to make friends in them. In other words when there’s a smaller class people are able to talk more. At this new school I was more like a number in a crowd. Because there were so many people in my school, it wasn’t obvious that I was the new kid, because no one knew the whole grade.
How was your adjustment to the new school and new city?
I wanted to get to know more about my environment and my new community. So I ended up getting a job when I moved in August. So working at my job I was able to get a feel of the stores and what the people were like. In regards to the high school, in the beginning it was very hard because I not only had to make new friends, but I had to worry about getting into college. I was very stressed and alone during that time. I ended up making the right decision and I did early decision to Elon University. Until early December when I found out I got in, all I was doing was applying to colleges and trying to figure out my future for the next year. But as soon as I got in, my whole attitude and everything turned around. I became more confident and was very happy with myself. I ended up opening up more to people and making more and new friends equivalent to the ones that I grew up with my whole life. It was very hard for me because the school was so big and overpopulated, there were trailers outside on the soccer field. This was not only incredibly hot, but they were so cramped, so it was a big adjustment and a very uncomfortable environment. I understand why the school did it, but I was just not used to that.
How was your senior year overall?
Overall it was very mixed. In the beginning it was clearly very hard, but in the end it was a lot easier for me. However, the school year in general was a huge adjustment. My old class schedule in Connecticut consisted of seven classes a day that were 40 minutes with a free period each day. In my new school we only had four classes a day that were two hours long. We had no free periods and we could not use any devices. We couldn’t wear short shorts, tank tops and flip flops. It was very weird to me. I almost didn’t feel like myself because my whole life was used to this schedule and the way I had dressed and expressed myself. I went there and I felt like I almost couldn’t be myself because I wasn’t used to it at all. I couldn’t dress the way I wanted and I felt like I wasn’t able to fully express myself. But in the end, I realized that it wasn’t just me. A lot of people had moved and a lot of people weren’t fond of the school system. However, towards the end of the year when people got into colleges, everyone dealt with it because they realized that they were getting out. But the friends I made made me look forward to going to school. Having people I could depend on and hang out with while at the school really helped me throughout this whole journey.
How is Charlotte different from Ridgefield?
Charlotte is very different from Ridgefield, in part because of the geographic location. You get people from all over, causing it to be very diverse. There’s a lot more to do in Charlotte because I lived 20 minutes from the city. Ridgeful is a lot more secluded and smaller. The only place you can go to shop is one mall 30 minutes away. In Charlotte there’s more to do and the people are so nice. I grew up in Ridgefield and was so used to the people that I intended to go back the second half of my senior year and as much as I missed those people, I realized Charlotte’s environment was a lot better for my well-being. Everybody was so positive and friendly, which is why I was able to adjust to the environment so quickly and did not want to return to Connecticut.