What food do you miss the most? “American foods are certainly a lot unhealthier than Australian foods. The quantity of junk food that people consume here every day is astounding, and I constantly see many obese people. There are many more different restaurants in San Diego compared to back home...especially Mexican. When I first arrived, I didn’t know anything about Mexican food and probably wouldn’t have known a burrito from a taco to save my life! I miss a lot of English-style foods that were available in Australia. Most people here don’t know about pasties, custard, or shepherd’s pie, all fabulous foods readily available. The quality of meat, vegetables, and bread was also better in Australia. The food I miss most is a traditional Australian meat pie.”
What was your reaction when you were told you’d be moving? “I came to San Diego because my father, a scientist, was offered a job at a research company. I absolutely hated the idea initially because it would mean leaving my friends behind. However, once I got used to the idea, I was also excited at the prospect of traveling and experiencing another culture.”
What were your expectations before coming to Mt. Carmel? “I had no expectations about an American high school. I suppose I expected it to be the same as an Australian high school. I was somewhat mistaken in this belief! I was terrified of starting at a new high school in a country where I knew absolutely no one. I shouldn’t have worried, though, because everyone was so friendly and helpful and made me feel welcome and accepted.”
Anna Choi, a senior at Mt. Carmel, moved to San Diego from L.A. last summer.
How have you changed since moving to San Diego? “I’ve become a better person, I think. The friends I’ve been able to make these past couple of months have given me a better outlook on life. They’re extremely encouraging, and I have been able to soak that in and share that generosity with other people.”
What did you find surprising about students at Mt. Carmel? “What surprised me about Mt. Carmelians is that they are impeccably punctual and more disciplined than the students I had encountered at my old high school. It’s absolutely astounding to see kids in their classrooms and ready for class two minutes before the passing period is even over, as it is surprising to be able to walk into and out of the school freely, without having to deal with a scrutinizing campus security.”
How does the learning environment in San Diego compare to L.A.’s? “I was glad to find that the academic classes offered here are pretty similar to the ones offered at my old school in L.A. I was able to enroll into the [advanced placement] classes I would have been in had I attended my old school my senior year.”
What would you take back to L.A. if you were to go back? “Although I lived just three hours north of here, I’m a firm believer that the weather is so much more refreshing and invigorating here than in even the suburban parts of the L.A. region.”
What food do you miss the most? “I’ve noticed that, among the several restaurants located in San Diego, many of which are unheard of in L.A., there are no Numero Uno Pizzerias here. In my opinion, they have the best pizza on the West Coast.”
What was your reaction when you were told you’d be moving? “I moved because of my father’s job. I was at first extremely reluctant to come because leaving L.A. meant that I had to leave the familiarity of my home and friends.”
What were your expectations before coming to Mt. Carmel? “Because I was unfamiliar with the school and its surrounding area, I had no idea what to expect.... This was the first time I had ever moved out of the schools within the area of my old home, much less out of the district. Thus, not knowing everyone — not being familiar with the environment — was an unnatural concept for me to deal with. Initially, I was apprehensive and nervous; but, after the first week, I began to feel utterly alone and painfully homesick, yearning for the established familiar.”
John Park came to San Diego from Korea two and a half years ago. He’s a junior at Mt. Carmel.
How has moving changed your lifestyle? “My lifestyle changed nicely because I don’t have to study for 20 hours like other students in Korea, and I can do many activities that I couldn’t do [because I was] studying.”
What did you find shocking about students at Mt. Carmel? “The lifestyles are much different compared to Korea. The students at MC are friendlier and most of the students are mannered well compared to the students in Korea. Students in Korea are rebellious. The air is clean and there are fewer students who take drugs at Mt. Carmel.”
How does the learning environment in San Diego compare to Korea’s? “The learning environment in Korea is worse than San Diego because in Korea, the parents and teachers push students [so] hard that it creates a lot of stress. The school closes early in America, while in Korea, it is like a college campus and is open past midnight.”
What would you take back to Korea if you were to go back? “I like the environment in San Diego...great weather and nice people.”
Did you have any difficulty adjusting? “The students here are less obnoxious and are calmer than most high school students in Korea. Students in America show more respect towards elders and teachers. Another thing I had difficulty adjusting to was the dark alleyways at night and how early people slept. Korea is a small city with a large population, so there are people constantly swarming around the sidewalk.”
What food do you miss the most? “I miss a lot of junk foods in Korea. There are many junk foods I can pick up on the way home because they have little shops where kids can stop by to grab a 50-cent [bag of] chips or a dollar’s worth of rice cake. The quantity was large and the price was cheap.”
What was your reaction when you were told you’d be moving? “When [they] told me about moving, I didn’t say anything because we moved around a lot. I didn’t think much of it, but once I came, I realized how different the two cultures were.”
What were your expectations before coming to Mt. Carmel? “I was excited before coming to Mt. Carmel because I believed there would be great activities, and I’d heard that Mt. Carmel was a nice school from friends who moved to San Diego from Korea.”
— Mimi Jun, Mt. Carmel H.S.