[*Today’s blog and photos by Maylie Allord, age 14]
Change isn’t a new thing for me. In elementary(primary) school, my two best friends moved away. While I lived in the States, I switched schools seven times which was really hard, but good things did come from it in the end.
In fifth grade, I was homeschooled and attended a homeschooling group so I could be with people my age. On the day we were together, my mom and I had to leave early to visit some relatives who live in New London. My mom came down and told me it was time to go. One of the kids asked where I was going, so I said “We’re going to New London to visit some family.” he replied with “Wait…you’re going to London, like in London, England?!” I remember my exact response: “Oh no way, I’m never going to be able to go to London… Ha I wish.”
Then, in one of my theatre productions, I was with a friend who’s a little older than me. We were in the dressing room getting ready, talking about what classes I would take in high school so that we could be together. I had this clear image of what my future was going to be. Stay in the same small town until graduation, go to college in the same state, get married, have kids and stay in that same city forever. There was no thought whatsoever of my plan not working out. What could possibly get in the way?
London. London got in the way. On October 20th 2018, 9:15am, I stepped off a plane with hands full of luggage and thought, everything that I have ever known and loved – the people, places, culture, school, church, home, everything – everything is gone. So many people said this would be a new beginning. A big change that you’ll be grateful for. An adventure of a lifetime. But I didn’t want to listen.
October 17, 2018. The hardest and best day of my life. The day started off as usual: one of my parents drove me to school in Stevens Point, WI, which took only four minutes. But once I entered, there was something different; everyone was staring at me, looking shocked. Right then I knew that the word was out. The thing I’ve been trying to hide from everybody for the longest time.
Maylie Allord is moving to the London.
I got asked so many questions from teachers, students and even parents. After I got home from school the goodbyes started. Part of our extended family came over and I knew that it would be a long time till I saw them again. Since it was a Wednesday, my friends picked me up to go to youth group. Youth group was by far my favourite time of the week. You played games in a crowd of 350 students, saw your friends that attend a different school than you, and had deep conversations with your small group. When we got there, I tried to pretend like it was a normal night…tried. I talked with so many people which was super fun because I’ve always been a “social butterfly.” When it was time to break off into small groups, I went with my group into our room. We made a circle of chairs with me in the middle. Each individual person went around and told me what they wanted to say before I left. It definitely felt like a eulogy, especially when you have 13 teenage girls balling their eyes out. I felt so much love and pain at the same time. It was then when I looked around the room that I thought, this is real, this is actually happening, I’m not going to lie to myself anymore. Their lives will move on and mine will too. But in my case, with nobody I know. I’ll enter a brand new continent without knowing any people, places and things: friends, family, house, church, youth group and school.
After all of that happened at youth group, I crashed at my friend’s house. We both didn’t get much sleep that night. When I woke up, all I could think about was that this was my last day in America. We got up at 5:00am to go to school, running on about 4 hours of sleep with no caffeine, yet I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t home at all that day, let alone that week. Meaning, I didn’t pack. My mom did mostly all of my packing while texting me pictures of things asking if we should take or leave. Definitely forgot a lot of things to take with me.
Schooling here in London has been one of the biggest challenges. There are so many differences between American and British schools (even down to the letters of the alphabet.) I’ve never realised how much I would learn in the span of only 4 months. In the UK, there are things like: A levels, GCSEs, prefects, mentor reps, houses and the grading system is different. The film Harry Potter gives details about what it’s like in English schools. For example, houses. Each school has different houses (not actual houses) where they separate the kids for the core classes. My school, Saint Cecilia’s, has 5 different houses: Schubert, Archimedes, Ives, Newton and Turing. (S.A.I.N.T) Which are all named after famous musicians/ mathematicians. The colour of your tie determines which house you belong in. I am in Turing so my tie has green stripes. The schedules are nothing like the ones in Wisconsin. It changes every fortnight (two weeks.) Students here don’t rush to lessons or lunch, most times we’re still working after the bell rings and nobody’s even packed up. The thing that I’m really used to now is calling the teachers by Sir or Miss. Saying “what?” to an adult is considered to be very rude. Usually if a student does that, their name is written down on the “bad side” of the whiteboard. The day starts at 8:50 am and ends at 3:10 pm. There are two assemblies per week, one for your year, the other for all the years (7-13) in your house.
Back in the States, since I lived in a small town, I knew some of my teachers outside of school. My science teacher was my next door neighbor, my math teacher knew my whole family since he was in middle school, and I went on a missions trip with the lunch lady. I was the type of student that instead of raising my hand, I would just say what I wanted to say, wouldn’t stop talking, and always volunteered to answer a question, even if I wasn’t confident with my answer. All in all, my teachers really liked me and my grades, but I could be a little “distracting to others.” I didn’t have to worry socially that much, I was pretty well known from church, clubs, previously switching schools, and lots of mutual friends. Not being “known” was a big adjustment for me. But around church I do still get “Are you an Allord?” or “You’re Doug Allord’s daughter, right?”
In my opinion, I like the transportation here in London way better. I go to and from school by myself which is a bus to Wimbledon and then two stops on the tube(District line). Sometimes I take the train home but it’s more expensive since youth ride the bus free. Wimbledon is the area I know the most. Some people would die to visit Wimbledon but I go there at least twice a day which at times can get boring. Some days after school I go into the Wimbledon Centre Court, which is a mall, with friends or on my own to pick something up quickly.
During this move, I have lost and gained so many friends. I was on the phone with one of my good friends and he mentioned taking a driver’s test the day before. That was when I realised that I’m really growing up. Yes, of course I’m still a kid, but not a little child anymore. That really hit me once I turned 14, thinking that in 10 years I would be moved out of the house, finished with college, starting a life of my own.
Truthfully, when I was in the States, I felt like I was dying when I thought about London. A part of me did die though, all of the culture norms of small town living had to be put in the back of my head and I tried not to think about it, and I try not to think of my past. For example, this fall In Wisconsin I went to a lot of (American) football games. On the 5th of October, I remember: my friend and I were walking out of school. She was asking me if I was going to go to the next game. (This is before the word got out that I was moving.) In my head I thought Oh well I won’t be here…I’ll be gone. I just told her “No I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.” The words: I’ll be gone, I won’t be here, I’m leaving soon, and I can’t, really scared me.
Before I moved to London one of the common phrases people told me was, “You have had such a great impact on people and have changed me so much.” The thing is, if we hadn’t moved, I never would have known any of this. I never knew the impact my family could have on people.
So change is definitely not easy, and our family has had a lot of it lately. But sometimes change can grow you as a person and how I feel about this change depends on the day. Take it from Socrates: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new.”